The Gillings Sustainable Agriculture Project: A Gillings Innovative Laboratory

Will Allen, Sustainable Agriculture Leader, Coming to North Carolina!

Will Allen, courtesy of The New York Times

Critics of eat local movements typically point to one theme – the often high cost of buying fresh fruits and vegetables and the difficult task of stretching food budgets to find ways to afford local food. At the same time one can buy a McDonalds’ burger for a dollar, a head of lettuce grown in nearby soil may cost over twice as much.  This means that financially struggling families often have little choice about how to keep from going hungry: McDonalds is often the least expensive, and perhaps easiest option for people who feel they can’t afford to spend much money on their diet. This point is emphasized by Triangle local Tom Philpott, food editor of Grist Magazine who says, “If there’s no place in the food movement for low- and middle-income people of all races, we’ve got big problems, because the critics will be proven right — that this is a consumption club for people who’ve traveled to Europe and tasted fine food.”

In order to eat more fruits and vegetables without breaking the bank, some people have learned that they can’t just rely on their grocery stores and farmers markets for food anymore and have begun to grow their own in order to get healthier fresh food in their meals. Gardeners around the country are working in their communities, schools and in their personal gardens and are attempting to break the economic barriers of buying healthy food while getting people to rethink the idea that eating locally is only for the upper class.

This coming month, those of us in North Carolina can have the pleasure of hearing from one of the most creative leaders of the movement to improve access to healthy food — Will Allen, the 2009 recipient of the MacArthur Genius award will be visiting Raleigh later this month and speaking at the McKimmon Center . Allen started a two-acre urban garden called Growing Power Farm in downtown Milwaukee, a city with an abundance of cheap, fast food and little options for fresh produce. Frustrated with these limited choices, Allen took initiative to start a community garden and engage those people living in the area to get involved learning about growing their own produce and enjoying the delicious results of their labor.  Allen will be speaking next Monday evening, Nov. 9th, as the 2009 Center for Environment Farm Systems (CEFS) Sustainable Agriculture Leader. Click here to link to The New York Times article to learn more about Will Allen and his work and click here to learn location and time details.

We encourage you to attend the event and bring a friend! Allen’s beliefs and work are vital in expanding the local food movement to include all people, regardless or race and income.


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