Where There’s Will Allen, There’s a Way
My interview with Will Allen almost didn’t happen. We were in Milwaukee shooting Sweet Water Organics and scrambling to get it all done. Given that Allen is arguably the biggest name in urban ag and in high demand it was difficult to connect with him. We had traded voice mails and emails with folks at Growing Power, the nonprofit farm and education center he heads, but we couldn’t line anything up. We were set to leave Milwaukee for Detroit and figured the interview with Allen wasn’t going to happen. To be honest, I didn’t think we needed to meet him. He is already so well known that I thought our episode on urban ag would be better if we focused on new voices. But the day before we left we got a call from the big guy himself. He was in town and wanted to meet.
We rolled out to his farm in Milwaukee and shot some b-roll and then headed south of town to where he was overseeing the construction of new greenhouses right across from Lake Michigan. We we got there he was eating lunch inside his pick-up truck. The wind was blowing a bit too hard for a sitdown interview but we did it anyway and were glad we did. Allen is 6-foot 8 and moves slowly because of a recent knee operation. He uses a rake as a cane but once he starts speaking it’s hard not be moved by the power of what he says.
Allen is showing the country and, increasingly, the world, that’s it’s not only possible, but necessary to reestablish our connection with the source of our food and each other while creating jobs and rebuilding communities in the process.
“If people can grow safe, healthy, affordable food, if they have access to land and clean water, this is transformative on every level in a community,” he says. “I believe we cannot have healthy communities without a healthy food system.”
He is making this happen. Allen deserves his star status and Food Forward’s episode on urban agriculture is going to be stronger because of our time with him. I’m glad we were able to pull it off. Thanks, Will.