Growing Power: Producing Organic Affordable Food For 23 Years.
Growing Power’s projects fall into three essential areas:
Projects and Growing Methods – Growing Power demonstrates our easy to replicate growing methods through on-site workshopsand hands-on demonstrations. We have farms in Milwaukee, Madison, and Merton, Wisconsin, and in Chicago, Illinois. Growing Power has also established satellite-training sites in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, and Mississippi.
Education and Technical Assistance – Growing Power’s educates folks through local, national, and international outreach for farmers and communities. We also run multiple youth programs, have an active volunteer base, and actively work on policy initiatives regarding agriculture.
Food Production and Distribution – Food production occurs in the organization’s demonstration greenhouses, rural farm site in Merton, and urban farms in Milwaukee and Chicago. We also distribute produce, grass-based meats, and value-added products through the activities of over 300 small family farmers in the Rainbow Farmers Cooperative, and the organization’s year-round food security program the Farm-to-City Market Basket Program. We also sell to numerous restaurants and small grocery stores in Chicago, Madison, and Milwaukee.
All of the above provide important opportunities for individuals and communities to network with each other as they work in partnership to promote food security and environmentally sound food production practices.
Additionally, Growing Power convenes numerous national workshops on-site at our Milwaukee facility each year; we have sponsored several nationalconferences focusing on food security; we provide technical assistance – on-site – at numerous sites around the country from Boston to Seattle.
Over 5,000 individuals receive tours of the Community Food Center each year; and the Will Allen, Growing Power’s Chief Executive Officer, has been the keynote speaker at several national conferences and the recipient of numerous local, state, and national awards and recognitions.
The simple truth is that it all starts with the soil. Without good soil, crops don’t get enough of the nutrients they need to survive and when plants are stressed, they are more prone to disease and pest problems. That’s why we grow our own compost and vermicompost – 10 million tons of it a year. That compost goes onto every growing bed we raise crops on. Because we know what goes in to the compost, we aren’t worried that the soil is contaminated with lead or other chemicals that humans just shouldn’t eat.
At Growing Power, we raise all of our crops sustainably, which is a term that means we grow produce at or above current organic standards but we have not been certified organic by the U.S. government. Currently, it just is not a priority of ours. We would all much rather be in the fields than filling out lots of paper work for the government. We are third-party certified by a group called Certified Naturally Grown, which means an extension agent comes to the farm annually to look at our records and growing practices to insure we are growing in the most sustainable way possible. We are also Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Certified which means that we handle our products in the safest manner possible and have methods of traceability in place to insure food safety.
To grow sustainably means that we do not use any synthetic chemicals – fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides – on any of our crops. We prefer to do things the old fashioned way; we hand pick weeds, we control pests with beneficial insects such as ladybugs, and we use foliar compost tea to help control pest and bacteria problems. As a very last resort, we use only certified organic pesticides like Neem oil and Pyrethrum, a pesticide made from Chrysanthemum leaves.
In addition, we buy all of our seed from reputable seed companies who do not treat their seeds with pesticides or other chemicals. Seed companies that we often use are Johnny’s Seed and Seed Savers. These are seed companies that we trust and who are committed to helping their communities.