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August 29, 2013 / Rick Swann

Farmer Will Allen biography


Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table


Here’s a book that should be used in conjunction with every school garden curriculum.


Jacqueline Briggs Martin, whose book Snowflake Bentley won the Caldecott award, tells the story of Will Allen, the founder of Growing Power, whose vision is to build sustainable food systems that are equitable and ecologically sound, is no ordinary farmer. A former basketball star, he’s as tall as his truck, and he can hold a cabbage, or a basketball, in one hand. But what is most special about Farmer Will is that he can see what others can’t see. When he looked at an abandoned city lot he saw a huge table, big enough to feed the whole world.


This book, vibrantly illustrated by Eric-Shabaz Larkin, follows Allen from his childhood where the family table was always full of great food (including his favorite lima beans with ham!), through his professional basketball career in Belgium, to his success in bringing urban farming to Milwaukee and other cities around the world through worm-based composting, vertical gardening, aquaponics and other innovative programs.


This is a positive story that is a perfect fit for children and youth garden educators and the kids they teach, whether the kids live in an urban, suburban or rural area.  Not only does it show Farmer Will doing hands-on garden investigations as he studies the best methods for making compost using worms and puzzles out how to integrate food producing systems that use fish, sprouts and water, the driving message of the book that everyone in the world needs access to healthy and affordable foods is a good one and one that kids can be part of the solution to: “Will you be on Will Allen’s crew? Will you grow vegetables for your family, your neighbors, on your porch, or roof, or yard?”

The book is published by Readers to Eaters whose mission is to promote food literacy and publish books that celebrate the pleasure of food, the joy of eating together, and the wonder of seeing our nourishment grow from the ground.


One Comment

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  1. Jeanette Stickel / Sep 7 2013 5:21 pm

    It looks like this biography would make a nice addition to our library. I used your book, Our School Garden! with my students last week and posted about it on my blog. I hope you’ll drop by and take a look:

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