Many people call Will Allen the modern-day George Washington Carver. Allen is an urban farmer who is transforming the planning, cultivation, production and delivery of good, healthy food to urban and rural populations. As the son of a southern sharecropper, as well as being a former professional basketball player, ex-corporate sales leader and longtime farmer, he is recognized as a national /international leader in urban and rural agriculture and food policy.
After a career in professional basketball and a number of years in corporate sales and marketing at Procter & Gamble, Allen returned to his roots as a farmer in 1993 to purchase the last remaining registered farm in the City of Milwaukee. He established and functions as farmer, founder and CEO of the world’s preeminent urban farm and for-profit organization — Will’s Roadside Farms & Markets.
In 2008, Allen was a John D. and Katherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellow and “genius grant” winner. In 2010, Time magazine named Allen to its list of 100 World’s Most Influential People. A member of the Clinton Global Initiative, he was invited to the White House to join First Lady Michelle Obama in launching “Let’s Move!” her signature leadership program to reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity in America. In 2010, Allen received the Key to the City of Milwaukee from Mayor Tom Barrett. In 2011, Allen received The James Beard Award. In 2015, he was selected to the National Organic Standards Boards’ Hydroponic/Aquaponic USDA Taskforce. Allen also attended the Milan Expo 2015 in Italy as part of the U.S. Presidential Delegation led by First Lady Michelle Obama. In 2016, the Good Food Award was given to Lakefront Brewery’s Growing Power Farmhouse Pale Ale.
Allen’s autobiography, The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People and Communities (C. Random House, Penguin/Gotham Books), was published in 2012 and received the Silver Medalist Award from Axiom Business Books. The book was nominated for Outstanding Literary Work for a NAACP Image Award in 2013. The Good Food Revolution is being used as a college textbook across the nation.
In the world of basketball and sports, Allen received the highest honor for a collegiate athlete, the Theodore Roosevelt Award from the National College Athletic Association, and his name was enshrined at the NCAA Hall of Champions in Indianapolis, Indiana (2012). He also was inducted into the Atlantic Coast Basketball Conference Hall of Legends (2010) and is a member of the University of Miami Hall of Fame.
He has received seventh honorary doctorates — from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design; Marquette University; University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, School of Freshwater Sciences; University of Miami, Florida; Hofstra University; Medical College of Wisconsin; and the National University of Natural Medicine in Oregon. He also has been given the National Education Association Security Benefit Corporation Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education in recognition of his work with children, teachers and schools.
Named one of the World’s Most Powerful Foodies by Michael Pollan and Forbes magazine, Allen continues work at Will’s Roadside Farms & Markets in Milwaukee to bring good food to people all over the world and to help end poverty.