From Professional Basketball Player to Urban Milwaukee Farmer.
By Redstone Publishing and Promotion / Circkles.com
Allen currently serves as director of Growing Power, a now mature urban farming project in Milwaukee, with a 40-acre farm west of Milwaukee in the town of Mertonand an off-shoot project in Chicago run by Allen's daughter, Erika.
Will Allen’s parents were sharecroppers in South Carolina until they bought the small vegetable farm in Rockville, Maryland, where Allen grew up, the second-youngest of six children. Despite a strict rule of his father’s – no sports until all farm chores were done – he became a standout basketball player in high school and the first African-American scholarship athlete at the University of Miami. He eventually became the men’s basketball team captain, and still holds a number of Miami Hurricanes records. Will graduated with a degree in education. Will was drafted in both the National Basketball Association and the American Basketball Association. He played in the ABA for a year and then entered the European League, playing for Belgium.
While living in Belgium, Will reconnected with his farming roots. He observed the intensive methods used on small plots by local farmers, and began applying those methods in a garden where he grew food for his family and teammates. Upon returning to the United States, Will began a career in corporate sales and marketing. Job opportunities brought him to Oak Creek, a suburb of Milwaukee, his wife’s hometown and site of her family farm. Eventually, Will tired of corporate life and took over operation of the farm. In 1993, wanting a place to sell his produce, he located a vacant garden center with three acres on Milwaukee’s north side. As it turned out, the small property was the last tract in the city of Milwaukee still zoned for agriculture. Will realized he could not only sell food from his own farm in Oak Creek, he could grow food on-site in a neighborhood where there was little fresh food to be found.The ultimate direction of Will’s life truly changed when young people from the neighborhood, including kids who lived in the largest low-income public housing project in Milwaukee,began to ask him for advice and assistance with growing their own vegetables. Almost overnight, Will took up the mantle of teacher and trainer, and the impromptu gathering of neighborhood children became the YouthCorps, a program that continues today.
In 1995, Growing Power Inc. was born: a not-for-profit center for urban agriculture training and building community food security systems.Will has been an innovator in methods of composting, vermicomposting (using worms to refine and fertilize compost) and aquaponics (growing fish and food plants in a closed system). These and other intensive practices result in remarkable yields of food, even in a very small area.Today, Growing Power employs a staff of 65 and is involved in more than 70 projects and outreach programs in Milwaukee, across the United States and throughout the world. Will has trained and taught in the Ukraine, Macedonia and Kenya, and has plans in place to create community food centers in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Haiti. In the U.S., Growing Power has set up 15 Regional Outreach Training Centers throughout the U.S.In 2008, Will was awarded the John D. and Katherine T. McArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” and named a McArthur Fellow – only the second farmer ever to be so honored. Will is also a member of the Clinton Global Initiative. On Feb. 9, 2010, was one of four national spokesmen who stood on the dais with First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House to launch her “Let’s Move!” initiative to reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity by 2015. In May 2010, Time magazine named Will as one of 100 World’s Most Influential People.Despite his busy schedule as an international ambassador for urban agriculture and universal food security, Will continues to farm his own property in Oak Creek and direct operations at Growing Power, still headquartered in the original location on Silver Spring Drive in Milwaukee.Growing Power’s vision: To inspire communities to build sustainable food systems that are equitable and ecologically sound; creating a just world, one food-secure community at a time. http://www.growingpower.org
Bayfield Peninsula Tour.
Start in Ashland at the Northern Great Lakes Visitors Center where a wonderful series of exhibits detail the area’s regional history and culture.
During your scenic fall driving tour follow Hwy 13 and the Lake Superior shore north to Bayfield, a quaint harbor town with a great fall vacation vibe. Bayfield is also the gateway to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore; 21 gem-like coastal islands and 12 miles of mainland that are home to six lighthouses, labyrinthine sea caves, terrific blue-water sailing, and some of the best sea kayaking in the world. You can take a ferry to Madeline Island where you can visit Big Bay State Park and aState Historical Society site.
North of Bayfield, Hwy 13 swings west paralleling Lake Superior’s southern shore for forty miles to the Brule River State Forest – 40,000 acres of beautiful fall color, whitewater canoeing, kayaking, camping and trout fishing.
Wisconsin River/Baraboo Hills Tour
The Wisconsin River/Baraboo Hills Fall Tour begins in Lodi and heads west on Hwy 113 for five miles to Cty V and Gibraltar Rock County Park (watch for the signs). The climb to the top is steep and not for the faint-of-heart, but the autumn views are truly spectacular. Two miles further on Hwy 113 and you’ll cross the Wisconsin River aboard the ColSac III Merrimac car ferry – it’s free. Hwy 113 then turns north and bisects Devil’s Lake State Park – one of Wisconsin most popular parks with terrific views of the fall color from the bluffs above the deep blue lake. Hwy 113 continues into Baraboo where the kids will love a stop at Circus World Museum.
For more fall foliage driving, follow Hwy 12 north seven miles to Fern Dell Road west to Mirror Lake State Park. From there the many amusements of Wisconsin Dells – including autumn boat tours through the carved sandstone bluffs of the Wisconsin River – are just minutes away.
Hilltop Color Tour
Three of the state’s highest points can be found in central Wisconsin along the Hilltop Fall Color Tour from Wausau to Ogema to Neillsville.
A 60-foot observation tower in Rib Mountain State Park near Wausau affords a breathtaking perspective of the Wisconsin River Valley’s fall foliage below. The mountain, estimated at one billion years old, is one of the oldest geological features on the planet.
Timm’s Hill, near Ogema, is the highest point in Wisconsin – 1,951 feet above sea level. The peak is preserved in Timm’s Hill County Park. At its top, an observation tower rises an additional 60 feet for outstanding views of the surrounding forest and its breathtaking fall colors.
One of the best fall foliage drives includes The Highground near Neillsville which occupies a ridge that overlooks colorful hillsides and glacial moraines. It is dedicated as a memorial park with many sculptural tributes to Wisconsin veterans.
Wisconsin FARMER'S MARKETS:
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GOOD EATS! Wisconsin Restaurant Review
El Sarape Restaurant
Food is excellent, but be patient with the service. The reviews on their service are not so great, but the food is worth the wait.2030 E Mason St Ste I, Green Bay, WI 54302. (920) 468-8792
Luigi's Italian Bistro
2733 Manitowoc Rd, Green Bay, WI 54311. 920-468-4900.
Amazing pizza! I have eaten here for years and the food is very good, very italian. But I would highly recommend the pizza it's the best in Green Bay hands down.
Joe's Pasty Shop
Light crusts on the Pastys, not hard.
123 Randall Avenue, Rhinelander, WI 54501
1 South Pinckney Street, Madison, WI 53703, 608-251-0500
“Best restaurant in Madison” Just went and had a wonderful dinner. Love that they use so many local foods. ~ Jen75
“Excellent food” Best fries anywhere in the world! The steak is incredible!
311 3rd St, Wausau, WI. www.politospizza.com
“All around best pizza in Wausau" Great service, friendly staff, pizza is wonderful every time!~Nancy S Green Bay,
The Crimson Cafe
This little cafe can easily be missed on the way to Wal-Mart in Rhinelander, but since our first time there, we rarely miss it. Outstanding paninis, and soup. The coffee is great too.
424 Lincoln St., Rhinelander, WI
1 (715) 362-8994.
Angelo's Family Pizzeria
Definitely the best pizza in Wausau. Thin crust, delicious sauce and toppings. We live here, so we almost always get the pizza delivered, or carry it out. When dining in the service is typically slow.
1206 6TH St, Wausau, WI 54403-3550 (715) 845-6225
We've been there many times for chicken which is excellent but now they serve steak too and it's great. The prices are very economical. 4 People can eat a chicken dinner for under $40 bucks and there's a good chance you'll need a doggie bag. If you order a baked potato you get 2. They also serve seafood which is very good too. If you’re a Packer fan the decor will be right up your alley, A lot of signed photos and memorabilia
3361 Main St, Green Bay, WI
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