Growing Power Conference-Milwaukee

11.7-9.14-GrowingPowerConference-Almquist_13On November 7-9, 2014 Adrian Almquist, our CommunityGrows Garden Programs Manager, attended the Growing Power Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The theme was Urban and Small Farms Conference:  Building a Fair Food Economy to Grow Healthy People. The intent of this national and international conference was to share ideas and inspire others to find ways to create sustainable jobs in their communities and help people live healthier lives. 11.7-9.14-GrowingPowerConference-Almquist_6As described on their website, “In 1993, Growing Power was an organization with teens who needed a place to work. Will Allen was a farmer with land. Will designed a program that offered teens an opportunity to work at his store and renovate the greenhouses to grow food for their community. What started as a simple partnership to change the landscape of the north side of Milwaukee has blossomed into a national and global commitment to sustainable food systems. Since its inception, Growing Power has served as a ”living museum” or “idea factory” for the young, the elderly, farmers, producers, and other professionals ranging from USDA personnel to urban planners. Training areas include the following: acid-digestion, anaerobic digestion for food waste, bio-phyto remediation and soil health, aquaculture closed-loop systems, vermiculture, small and large scale composting, urban agriculture, permaculture, food distribution, marketing, value-added product development, youth education, community engagement, participatory leadership development, and project planning.” 11.7-9.14-GrowingPowerConference-Almquist-1Here is Adrian’s synopsis: Will Allen’s organization stands as a prime example of the power and viability of urban agriculture, young farmer training, and the ability for communities to come together to overcome inequities.   In was truly inspiring to meet with people from across the country to talk about the future of urban agriculture and renewable energy.  In addition to touring their urban farms and greenhouses, I co-facilitated a workshop at the conference which highlighted youth farming programs, and spoke about CommunityGrows efforts to bring environmental education, food education, and job readiness skills to our San Francisco youth.  I also spoke to our recent inclusion of meditation in our classes and the importance of giving our youth the chance to be in silence, explore their imaginations, and check in with their feelings during the course of their busy days.   Across the country people are embracing local and urban food production to solve injustice within the food system and lack of fresh healthy food in their communities.  CommunityGrows and Growing Power have been at the forefront of this movement over the last 20 years, training urban youth in the basics of urban food production and healthy eating, and it was amazing to be at a conference where so many people were coming together to celebrate and plan for a healthier, more sustainable, and more just world for all.11.7-9.14-GrowingPowerConference-Almquist_9