Last year I visited Growing Power, a well-known urban farming operation in a not-so-well-known area of Milwaukee’s north side. Located in and behind a greenhouse on a parcel of excess land next to an Army Reserve base, Growing Power is quite simply a farm. They raise food. But there is more to the story.
Growing Power is located in a “food desert,” an area of a city without a grocery store to provide an adequate array of healthy food options, particularly fresh produce. So they grow food, including fruits and vegatables, and they also raise chickens and fish. They practice vermiculture – using worms to create compost at a rate of 80,000 pounds of compost per week at their 2.5 acre site in Milwaukee and a 30 acre farm in nearby Merton.
Growing Power’s founder, Will Allen, a son of a sharecropper, merged a vision of sustainable urban farming with outreach and educational opportunities for children on Milwaukee’s north side. Growing Power even has an edible flower garden in Chicago’s Grant Park, which I saw last summer and you wouldn’t notice if you weren’t looking.
Perhaps most amazing to me on my tour of the Milwaukee facility is the use of aquaponics. It works like this…well, read here for yourself, but rest assured it is brilliant!
With all the enthusiasm out there for local food production, Growing Power can serve as a very good example.
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