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The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,286 ratings  ·  184 reviews
A pioneering urban farmer and MacArthur “Genius Award” winner points the way to building a new food system that can feed—and heal—broken communities.

The son of a sharecropper, Will Allen had no intention of ever becoming a farmer himself. But after years in professional basketball and as an executive for Kentucky Fried Chicken and Procter & Gamble, Allen cashed in his
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published May 10th 2012 by Gotham (first published May 1st 2012)
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3.95  · 
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 ·  1,286 ratings  ·  184 reviews

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This is an inspiring and progressive look at urban gardening and farming. Will Allen bought some abandoned greenhouses in Milwaukee and over time, he turned them into a massive food-growing operation. He grows fruit and vegetables, he composts, and he even figured out a way to raise fish.

His mission was to provide healthier food options for the urban poor:

"In inner-city communities throughout the United States, it is easier — and often less expensive — to buy a Twinkie or frosted cupcakes or a
Jul 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Being a middle-class white guy, I haven't had to spend much time thinking about the history of race and food in America. Will Allen, the son of African American sharecroppers, has spent a lot of time thinking about it. His thinking and actions have landed him a MacArthur Genius award for his work to bring good food and good jobs to those confronting the "lingering disparities in racial and economic justice." Using highly intensive growing techniques (composting, vermiculture, aquaculture, etc.) ...more
Mar 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
p.35 "I believe that this quality of 'grit', the ability to withstand setbacks and disappointments, is more important to teach children than any facts we can cram into their heads."

p.63 "We all need a healthy environment and a community that lets us fulfill out potential."

p.73 "The benefits of the hard work that you do now may not be felt for a very long time. But if you plant seeds and continue to tend to them - and keep faith in the harvest - good things can come."

p.111 "... this experience sh
May 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: food
I read this book because I wanted to learn how Will Allen urban farms, and while I did learn that, this book offered me something of much more value: a firsthand and historical perspective of the connection between race and food/farming. Will's personal history combined with historical anecdotes really taught me a LOT about the reasons why parts of the US are still struggling with diet-related health problems and institutional racism within food systems.

I also really liked the writing in The Goo
Jun 08, 2016 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ronald Steele
Jul 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"The Good Food Revolution" is a about former pro basketball player, Will Allen, who abandoned the corporate life and committed himself to creating urban farm centers across the country to people the value of locally grown food to healing our environment, improving our nutrition, creating economic opportunity and healing one another. Allen explores how USDA engineered corporate farming who uses harmful fertilizers and pesticides. Corporate farmers also drove the small farmer out of business. Alle ...more
Jul 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
In short, this book is a great inspiration. A combination of Will Allen's family history and his urban farming revolution, this book will inspire you to rethink what you're eating, who is growing it, and how you can help the food revolution Will began. I loved reading it and I really hope this book takes off!

He defies adversity and takes a gamble on a feeling in his soul that healthy fresh food should be for everyone, especially those who live in low income urban environments and growing healthy
Oct 01, 2012 added it
Shelves: naturally
At one point, while describing a friend and employee Will Allen writes:

"She wants me to tell her story now.
'Don't pretty it up,' she said.
Sometimes on the sidewalks of Milwaukee, there will be a flower or a tall weed sticking defiantly out of the tiniest crack in the concrete. I realize that human lives can be like that. People find a way to persist even when they are provided the narrowest possibility."

Allen tells the story of persistence, whether it be in the people he knows and lives and work
Mar 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An insightful, inspiring memoir/call for change by urban ag visionary Will Allen, with writer Charles Wilson. For all the books you may have read about changing our food system, you've never before heard from an American black farmer who works nationally and globally with underserved, multicultural communities. This is an honest story about Will Allen's search for meaning in his own life--and how his pioneering work in urban farming came to transform the lives of so many, often people who were p ...more
Marguarite Markley
May 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
Wow. Will Allen is a game changer. Looking for an inspirational book? This is the book for you. Instead of hoping to change the food system, Will Allen changed it for many small inner-city communities...and it all started with a dream that he could do it. Believe in yourself and others will believe too is the main theme in this book. The work he does is amazing. If you're interested in eating locally, eating organically, or eating economically, if you like "foodie" books, if you like memoirs abo ...more
Jul 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book was required to read for the incoming first years for OSU. As a staff member, I was also required to read this book. Overall, the message was inspiring and it was wonderful to see what Alan achieved from where he started.

Sometimes throughout the book I found myself becoming uninterested with the micro details about others lives, but overall I was able to absorb the message.

It was not something that I would have picked up off the shelf on my own, but I am glad I have read The Good Foo
Dec 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012, apl
Will Allen is a farmer and a retired basketball player from Wisconsin. He bought some greenhouses in 1993 to (make money and) provide some fresh food to a part of Milwaukee where there was a grocery black hole, and nothing fresh. This book follows his journeys from before getting the greenhouses to growing with the greenhouses. The stories of Will's family (who were farmers in the South) and the friends he works with. Way more than just what the title promised...
Makes me want to get my hands dir
Aug 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
4.5. Will Allen is a visionary, and this book is inspiring. A nice blend of his background, interesting and alarming facts about farming in the U.S., and touching stories about the lives of people who are a part of the "good food revolution."
Jun 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is a powerful and touching account of how a single person can get a community on board to make a vast difference and create a domino effect of “change” throughout the nation. Will Allen, once a sharecropper’s son, takes us through his journey of how he went from a professional basketball player, manager of several KFC chains and a salesman at Proctor and Gamble to return to doing the work he despised as a kid but later in life realized was his passion. Simply written with powerful messages, ...more
Oct 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mainlibrary
History gives us the stories of influential people who sacrificed all to the better good. I feel like I've witnessed the growth of another icon to add to that list, Will Allen. Allen, the son of sharecroppers, embraced his inner farmer and revitalized a community while teaching us what Urban Farming is all about. His story isn't glam; it's about real life as a child of the 60's, his struggles as a pro basketball player, traveling saleman and a man with a dream. It's the story of the people he me ...more
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Will Allen is a very inspiring person. I was only vaguely familiar with his organization, Growing Power, before I read this book. It is really amazing how he has harnessed the power of his community to do such amazing things with community gardens, aquaculture, creating healthy food choices in food deserts, inspiring disadvantaged youth, bridging race and socioeconomic gaps through food and farming, etc. Allen is definitely deserving of the MacArthur genius grant. The book itself is a really qui ...more
Jun 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Living in Madison, I had heard about the work Will Allen was doing for years. I was very excited to read his book and I was not disappointed. What a fascinating tale of his life journey to the work he is doing and his vision for his ideas and dreams to continue past his lifetime.

We recently moved to Craftsbury Common, Vermont, the home of Sterling College, which is small unique college devoted to sustainable agriculture and community.
Sterling is one of only seven Work-Learning-Service colleges
This book combines a bit of memoir, relating Allen's family history with agriculture and the Great Migration, and how he himself got back into farming, with the story of how he started and developed Growing Power, the urban farming nonprofit for which he received a MacArthur genius grant, and which he's now trying to take national.

It's a book that could be inspiring to anyone interested in youthwork, local food, and sustainability, and Allen has a lot to say specifically about farming in an Afr
Sarah Rice
Jun 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Will Allen is a bad ass. His story is inspiring and there's something for everyone in here - for the historian, the sociologist, the gardener, the farmer, the ecologist, the economist, the sports fan, the risk taker, the urban dweller/lover, the social worker, the entrepreneur. It's not the finest of writing, but there are plenty of moments of literary clarity to get you through. The story itself is engaging and uplifting. Throughout the book I kept thinking of different people I would recommend ...more
Nov 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent, inspirational book. It is as much about living a life well lived as it is about food. Will Allen doesn't preach about how to live a life with purpose and meaning - he simply DOES it. In doing so he provides an example for the rest of us.

I have had the privilege to tour Will's operation and to hear him speak. He is as committed and passionate in person as he sounds in this book. Having grown up in a rural area with a father who was an outstanding producer of organic food, I
Jun 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Over the past few months, I've had a strong desire to read organic cookbooks and books about revolutionizing how and what we eat. THE GOOD FOOD REVOLUTION is the 'aha' that my soul has been searching for and I'm so glad to have finished it. Let me add, as a political science teacher, I tell my students that they can change the world starting in their own neighborhood. Allen proves me right as he dug in his heels and shared his vision of growing good food for his urban community. I know this is t ...more
Joy Weese Moll
Sep 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Summary: Will Allen is a former professional basketball player (mostly in Europe) and business man (mostly in Wisconsin). This story is about how he turned unused green houses from a defunct florist into the basis for a national urban food movement: Growing Power.

Thoughts: I heard about this book when Will Allen was interviewed on the radio show To The Best of our Knowledge, Will Allen on Urban Farming. From that interview, I expected a book about food policy. What I got was so much more than th
Oct 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An inspirational book on growing food in an urban community and offering clues as to how one might go about it. I would have to say this might have limited applicability in other nations due to differing logistics and availability of fresh food. For instance, Southeast Asia nations have far more access to fresh produces but having said that the fresh food available are mostly laced with pesticides and grown with chemical fertilizers to which the book is trying to steer from. It offers insights i ...more
Dec 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those interested in farming, food, or food supply
Shelves: food
I loved the intent of this book: communicating that everybody deserves the right to quality food and we can all do a little towards that goal. Will Allen and his Growing Power organization has made some pretty impressive headway towards bringing quality local food to the impoverished communities of Milwaukee.

Will's narrative is straightforward. It's clear he has a lot of insight into this world and that comes out in the quantity and diversity of experiences and stories which are intermingled thr
Mar 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I kept seeing will's book reviewed in mother earth news and finally decided to read it. It wasn't quite what i expected. It was a lot more autobiographical than i expected. I think this added a lot to the treatise he was making about the need for replacing (or at least augmenting) factory farming with a smaller urban based community food production model. Will's story is inspiring for his determination to do what makes him happy, his resoluteness and 'sticktuitiveness' in the face of numerous ob ...more
Ellen Bell
Aug 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Simply put, Will Allen's book is exciting. His experiences are so varied, yet there is a common thread running through all of them. I love the way Allen writes about each part of his life, and relates it back to where he's at now, as the owner of Growing Power in Milwaukee. It's easy for the reader to understand that each step along his varied life path lead him in the same direction: one that promotes equal access to fresh, healthy foods for people of all demographics. Allen is a pioneer in thi ...more
Jul 27, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love what Will Allen did and what he's doing through Growing Power. He gives a lot of great advice and has a strong focus toward helping people emulate his success. My one hangup was that he was essentially given a 100-acre farm with accompanying house from his mother-in-law to start him off. He also didn't come from the urban environment he's trying to help which adds an interesting dynamic to me. That being said, he has had amazing and tangible positive effects on the lives of many people an ...more
Susan Baumgartner
May 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
A brief, straight-forward and honest summary of Will Allen's journey to urban agriculture. What a life! So beneficial to hear his family history as well as his own evolution. I stopped at 4 stars because I had hoped there would be at least an index at the end of the book giving sources for more info on all that he talks about in the book- one wants to hit the ground running after this sort of read. In addition, the long side journeys through some of Mr Allen's associates at Growing Power were a ...more
Frederick Bingham
Aug 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Mr. Allen the author runs a community garden in Milwaukee and heads an organization called Growing Power dedicated to urban farming. This book is his memoir. He came from a hardscrabble background and really made something of himself. He is an inspiration to us all and has touched a lot of lives through his community organizing and entrepreneurship. I enjoyed his ability to tinker with his operation and to always by looking for ways of doing things better, cheaper and differently.
Laura Horne
Jul 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book makes me want to become a farmer! Not only does it offer Will Allen's inspiring personal story and passion for urban agriculture, but it also walks readers through the small steps we can each take to join the "good food movement." Read if you're interested in urban food systems, closing the gaps on health disparities, African American history, community organizing and/or the good food movement.
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Goodreads Librari...: Book listed under incorrect author 5 151 Jun 08, 2012 06:05PM  

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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Will Allen is an urban farmer based in Milwaukee and a retired American basketball player.