The James Beard Foundation Names Will Allen, a pioneer in urban farming and CEO of Growing Power as Recipient of Inaugural Leadership Award Recognizing 10 Visionaries – including First Lady Michelle Obama – Who Are Creating a More Healthful, Sustainable, and Safe Food WorldRecognizing visionaries in the business, government, and education sectors responsible for creating a healthier, safer, and more sustainable food world, the James Beard Foundation has named Will Allen, CEO of Growing Power, a recipient of the inaugural James Beard Foundation Leadership Awards. Allen, an urban farmer, has gained regional and national attention over the last two decades for his work as the lead trainer and Chief Executive Officer of the Milwaukee-based, non-profit organization, Growing Power, Inc. In 1993, Allen offered a group of teens the opportunity to help him renovate the Growing Power greenhouses in order to grow food for their community. What started as a simple partnership to grow a few gardens blossomed into a national and global commitment to sustainable food systems, using the innovative Growing Power Community Food Center as the demonstration model and training grounds to support this initiative.
“One of my core beliefs is that healthy communities cannot exist without healthy food systems,” said Allen. “At our urban farm, everyone is welcome.” From elementary students and farmers to government officials and University professors, Growing Power welcomes anyone who is interested in urban sustainable food systems, renewable energy, the environment, and of course, FOOD, to participate in at least one of the many educational opportunities the organization offers year-round. In particular, Growing Power provides regular trainings, resource development, and technical support-outreach for limited resource farmers and socially disadvantaged communities.
The Leadership Awards represent a new focal point for the Foundation as the culinary arts organization enters its 25th anniversary year. “Our Foundation is widely known for recognizing the best chefs and restaurateurs in America through our annual James Beard Awards,” said Susan Ungaro, President of the James Beard Foundation. “Our new Leadership Awards shine the spotlight on game-changing pioneers who have inspired positive action to improve our country’s food system.”
Honorees were chosen by an advisory board comprised of a dozen experts from diverse areas of expertise. The Leadership Awards recognize specific outstanding initiatives as well as bodies of work and lifetime achievement. Among the criteria used to select final honorees are excellence of work, innovation in approach, and scale of impact within a community or the nation.
Will Allen and the other nine first-time recipients of the Leadership Awards will be honored at a ceremony and dinner prepared by James Beard Award-winning chefs Michel Nischan and Anne Quatrano during the second annual James Beard Foundation Food Conference. The invitation-only conference, cohosted by Good Housekeeping, will take place on October 12 and 13 at the Hearst Tower in New York City.
Food is the world’s biggest industry, with restaurants alone contributing more than $550 billion to our national economy. Media messages about food saturate our culture at every turn. The 2011 James Beard Foundation Food Conference, Sustainability on the Table: How Money and Media Influence the Way America Eats, will explore these two themes. Founding support for the JBF Food Conference was provided by GRACE Communications, Edens & Avant, and Sodexo. The Conference is also made possible with support from American Humane Association, Karp Resources, and UBS. For more information, visit www.jbffoodconference.org.
Tickets to the inaugural Leadership Awards Dinner are available for $1,000, and tables of ten are available for $10,000. A portion of each ticket or table purchase is tax-deductible as allowed by law. For event information or to purchase tickets, please contact Bowen & Company at 212.925.0054 or visit www.jbfleadershipawards.org.
About Growing Power
Growing Power was started in Milwaukee, Wis., in 1993 by Will Allen, a 2008 winner of a MacArthur “Genius Award” who has long worked to produce and deliver healthy food to low-income communities. It is a national nonprofit organization and land trust supporting people from diverse backgrounds, and the environments in which they live, by helping to provide equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food for people in all communities. Growing Power implements this mission by providing hands-on training, on-the-ground demonstration, outreach and technical assistance through the development of Community Food Systems that help people grow, process, market and distribute food in a sustainable manner.
About Will Allen
Will Allen, son of a sharecropper, former professional basketball player, ex-corporate sales leader, and now farmer, has become recognized as among the preeminent thinkers of our time on agriculture and food policy. The founder and CEO of Growing Power Inc., a farm and community food center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Allen is widely considered the leading authority in the expanding field of urban agriculture. At Growing Power and in community food projects across the nation and around the world, Allen promotes the belief that all people, regardless of their economic circumstances, should have access to fresh, safe, affordable and nutritious foods at all times. Using methods he has developed over a lifetime, Allen trains community members to become community farmers, assuring them a secure source of good food without regard to political or economic forces. In 2010 Mr. Allen joined First Lady Michelle Obama as she launched the White House’s “Let’s Move” campaign to address issues affecting American youth and the risk of obesity and Mr. Allen was also recognized as one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.
Founded in 1986, the James Beard Foundation is dedicated to celebrating, nurturing, and preserving America’s diverse culinary heritage and future. A cookbook author and teacher with an encyclopedic knowledge about food, James Beard, who died in 1985, was a champion of American cuisine. He helped educate and mentor generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts. Today, the Beard Foundation continues in the same spirit by administering a number of diverse programs that include educational initiatives, food industry awards, scholarships to culinary schools, and publications, and by maintaining the historic James Beard House in New York City’s Greenwich Village as a “performance space” for visiting chefs. For more information, please visit www.jamesbeard.org. Find insights on food at the James Beard Foundation’s blog Delights & Prejudices. Join the James Beard Foundation on Facebook. Follow the James Beard Foundation on Twitter.