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Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table

4.17  ·  Rating Details  ·  256 Ratings  ·  78 Reviews
Will Allen is no ordinary farmer. A former basketball star, he's as tall as his truck, and he can hold a cabbage--or a basketball--in one hand. But what is most special about Farmer Will is that he can see what others can't see. When he looked at an abandoned city lot in Milwaukee he saw a huge table, big enough to feed the whole world.

No space, no problem. Poor soil, ther
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 10th 2013 by Readers to Eaters
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It shouldn’t be this hard. You walk to a biography section of a children’s room, any children’s room, and you start searching for biographies of living people who are not sports stars, actors, musicians or politicians. And you search. And you search. And after a while your eyes kind of droop and you feel a bit sleepy, so you tell yourself you’ll continue to search on another day. Don’t bother. I can tell you right off that finding biographies of contemporary people who don’t fall into the worlds ...more
I enjoyed Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table and found his an interesting and inspiring story. I'm not sure how feasible some of his goals for urban gardens are is but it's a great and worthy dream and I hope that the book inspires many people who might not have thought they could have a "real garden" (of the big, backyard, in-ground variety) to have gardens and grow delicious and healthy fruits and vegetables of their own no matter the size of their home or yard (or lack of yard). I especi ...more
Nov 26, 2013 Tasha rated it it was amazing
Will Allen is a farmer who can see the potential where others can’t. When he sees a vacant lot, he sees a farm with enough to feed everyone. When he was a boy, he grew up helping care for a large garden that kept their family fed. But Allen did not want to spend his life weeding and digging in the dirt, so he decided to become a basketball player, and he did. But then living in Milwaukee, he saw empty greenhouses standing vacant and realized that he could feed people who had never eaten a fresh ...more
Jun 15, 2015 Dolly rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
Inspiring, informative and entertaining, this is a great book for young readers to help them learn more about the importance of connecting with the earth, finding out about where our food comes from, and more importantly learning to grow fruits and vegetables.

In an age when many children can't identify even some of the most common vegetables (see this episode of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution), I am so impressed that Mr. Allen is bringing farming to urban areas and helping to expose more childr
Apr 06, 2014 Martha rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Alice, Librariansteph, Marti, Elissa, Nadine
Shelves: k-3-biography
Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table tells the story of how a former basketball star returned to his upbringing as a farmer. He transformed barren city blocks into thriving vegetable gardens through the teamwork of the community, who grew and ate their healthy food. A perfect title to share during Earth Day or any day of the year. The illustrations and text are powerful!
Karen Witzler
May 30, 2015 Karen Witzler rated it really liked it
A children's picture book biography of a former basketball star who began an urban gardening movement in Milwaukee called Growing Power. The book captures his enthusiasm for his subject and its potential to change urban landscapes and food distribution systems. Will Allen's use of vermiculture (red wriggler earthworms) and composting to rebuild soil is a highlight as is his willingness to experiment and re-purpose both space and objects for urban food production.The book captures the pioneering ...more
Mar 16, 2015 Margaux rated it it was amazing
GREAT book on composting and what it's like to be an urban farmer! Farm2Fork
Cassidy Gilbride
Jun 23, 2015 Cassidy Gilbride rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Twin Text:
Matthies, J., & Valiant, K. (2011). The Goodbye Cancer garden. Chicago, Illinois: Albert Whitman & Company.

These two books both are about farming and gardening. Getting kids involved with building the garden and growing the plants themselves is an important aspect in both of these books. One is a non-fiction book about former basketball player Will Allen and his plan to help those who are hungry everywhere by teaching them to farm for themselves. The other is a fiction book ab
Michelle Schnell
Mar 29, 2014 Michelle Schnell rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Twin Text: the apple orchard riddle, by Margaret McNamara and G. Brian Karas, @ 2013.

Rationale: I selected the apple orchard riddle to accompany Farmer Will Allen Growing Table because it is also about growing things and making your own food. In the apple orchard an elementary school class goes on a field trip to visit an apple orchard and to learn about all the different types of apples and how apples are grown, stored, processed into apple cider. At the end of the book there is a list of “Mr.
Better for young elementary, not preschool.
Kaitlin Burke
Apr 30, 2015 Kaitlin Burke rated it really liked it
Martin's Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table is a picture book about a man that takes a simplistic problem and solution framework to show children how farmers deal with small space. This book is a great informational book for children, because most children don't know where their food comes from. This book would be a great way to introduce agricultural concepts to your students and further their learning because it is crucial that they know what they are eating and if its healthy and where i ...more
From my book lending buddy, a new book about an organization that has grown from a reluctant gardener, Will Allen, who ignored the family gardening when he grew up so he could play basketball, in Belgium. But there he learned that he really loved digging in the earth, and his dreams of food on the table for everyone started with his own farm, then six empty greenhouses in Milwaukee, then forming a community to help him make good earth for growing in the polluted soil. Like his plants, his dream ...more
Sharon Worrell
Oct 25, 2015 Sharon Worrell rated it really liked it
After reading how wonderfully Farmer Allen grew all the food for his table,I wanted to grow some vegetables too! This book is wonderful for homes and science classrooms it introduces clever vocabulary and encourages healthy eating. Farmer Allen was a young boy who helped at home in the garden,but grew up and wanted to play basketball and gained a white collar job. As he grew older and moved away and found land and also noticed that the children needed to eat the right foods. Then, he planted a g ...more
Jul 06, 2015 Amanda rated it really liked it
Brilliant. Madam and I read this together and we both loved this. Very inspiring. At the end, Madam told me that she wants to visit Milwaukee now and see Will Allen's farm. That's what I'm talking about.
Jim Erekson
Jan 26, 2014 Jim Erekson rated it liked it
Wow, 3 for 3. This one is definitely informational. While the story revolves around Will Allen, this self-published title from Readers to Eaters (a 'food literacy' group) is more about urban gardening than just about Allen. The agenda is to promote knowledge about growing, cooking, and eating! Hard to argue with that as an informational niche.

Ultimately, I didn't like this quite as much as Peter Brown's 2009 The Curious Garden, both promoting the idea of urban farming and local food.

The hook f
So many reasons to buy this book and share it with kids.

I shared this video with my 1st and 2nd graders:
Jan 28, 2014 Eboni rated it really liked it
While the number of books surrounding food deserts has increased, this book is one of the first attempts I've seen to introduce it to younger children.

Briggs Martin succeeds as she introduces us to Will Allen, a man who "can see what others can't" and simply wants to provide food for the worlds "tables". It frames Allen's work in a simplistic problem and solution framework, explaining how the urban farmer dealt with small spaces, bad soil, and finding support. The book ends with additional reso
Jun 29, 2015 Jenny rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this true story of Will Allen and his dream to help people grow gardens even in urban areas. While I know some parts of his dream have not been realized, it is encouraging to see community gardens and school gardens becoming more common in my city as well as other cities. I have a neighbor that is involved in opening a brand new charter high school where the focus will be on agriculture...growing crops, raising livestock, veterinary medicine and so on. Some positive steps in the right ...more
Ms. Barry
The story of former basketball player Will Allen's childhood of home grown food, family, and community, how he takes his memory and adult experience to develop urban farms and teach children and adults how to do so in order to bring good food to every table. This book is AWESOME for so many reasons - it's about an athlete, a man, a human who takes something from his childhood and literally grows it into something else, something after his initial career. I love that it talks about family, work, ...more
Review copy: Purchased, but also a final copy from the publisher

I loved this look into urban farming and appreciate that he is living here in Wisconsin. It fits really well with the school garden that we have so our students can see that farming doesn't require tons of land. Everyone can grow food for their own table. The students also loved that he was a basketball player. The text is just the right amount for first and second grade students, but it could certainly be used with older students t
Charles Wilson
Oct 19, 2013 Charles Wilson rated it it was amazing
This is a delightful children's book, gracefully written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and imaginatively illustrated by Eric-Shabazz Larkin. In clear, inclusive language, Martin traces the life of Mr. Allen. Raised by parents who were involved in sharecropping, he fought most of his early life to escape farming. He pursued a career in professional basketball but found a passion later in life for agriculture. He bought the last remaining land zoned for agricultural use in the city of Milwaukee, and ...more
May 05, 2015 Sam rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographical
This is a great biography that would be very interesting, especially for older readers. I loved the chapter formats and the graphic-style illustrations. I wish there were more books like this - biographies geared toward kids and teens about people who have seen a problem and done something about it. I really liked the idea of growing things not necessarily on a farm, but wherever you are! Definitely encourages me to plant a garden this spring in my postage stamp sized yard!
Oct 09, 2015 Dana rated it really liked it
Growing plants from seeds may be a new concept for many children. The Growing Table is a children’s non-fiction picture book that introduces kids to agricultural concepts. It’s an introduction to knowing what’s involved in growing a garden. Briggs the author, tells the true story of Will Allen’s passion was so great he taught people to grow food all over the world. Allen says “We need 50 million more people growing food on porches, in pots, in side yards...” The child in And Then it’s Spring anx ...more
Oct 24, 2015 Suzi rated it really liked it
We read this as a school as part of the Read Across the Globe Guinness World Record Attempt for most children read to in 24 hours. Each class in school read it for half an hour and discussed it and although it was a simple book, it made the children think about what they were reading and their connections with their fellow pupils and children around the world. It was a great event to be part of and created a real buzz around the school.
The Styling Librarian
Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Eric-Shabazz Larkin – Beautiful, inspiring story of someone who looked at an empty lot and saw a future filled with health- vegetables, fruit, community garden… and when he succeeded after research and study there, he began to pass his message all over the world! So inspiring. Glad this is part of the Beverly Cleary Children’s Choice Award Program!
Vernon Area Public Library KIDS
Will Allen is a grassroots farmer who farms in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Growing up, his family grew most of their own food. Although he loved eating the delicious food, he wasn't fond of the work needed to make the farm grow. When he grew up, he moved to Belgium to play professional basketball. It was there that he fell in love with farming, after a friend had asked his help with a farm. When he moved back to the United States, he bought a piece of land with 6 empty greenhouses. From that, his farm ...more
This is a wonderful conversation started about where our food comes from. I like how Will Allen believes that good food can be had by anyone no matter their socioeconomic status because anyone can have a garden. This book would be great for teachers to use in the class room because this may not be a familiar topic for children AND even parents!
Sandy Brehl
This is a utilitarian book which fills the needed purpose of sharing an essential urban farming story. Will Allen is a leader whose story should be told, and this is serviceable effort that uses nearly comic-book images to appeal to older readers. The afterword and author note as well as back matter resources make it a useful teaching tool.
Karen Arendt
Mar 29, 2014 Karen Arendt rated it really liked it
I just love to read picture book biographies that can show young children that everyone can make a difference if they try! Will Allen is a former professional basketball player who started growing food in greenhouses in Milwaukee to help feed people, He has encouraged millions of people all over the world to grow food to feed people.
Oct 20, 2014 Sharon rated it really liked it
Shelves: with-my-ears
Will Allen's urban farm is in Milwaukee, WI, so this is a particularly appropriate book to share with teachers and parents looking for books describing the growing process. It's from a new publisher that focuses on books about healthy eating. Jacqueline Briggs Martin captures all of the facts that will be of interest to kindergarten through fourth graders and Eric-Shabazz Larkin's sturdy illustrations portray a man with a strong vision. Lively narration by Peter James Fernandez with well-placed ...more
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