Will Allen.

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Urban farmer Will Allen has been named one of this year’s recipients of the prestigious “genius” grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The grant recognizes Allen’s work bringing affordable fresh produce and quality grass-fed meats to the urban poor and educating communities about sustainable farming. Allen co-founded the group Growing Power in Milwaukee in the early ’90s to engage kids in food production and educate them about where food comes from. At the same time, the organization also worked to ensure that low-income neighborhoods had access to fresh fruits and vegetables via farmers’ markets and other programs. The group runs a two-acre urban farm in Milwaukee and a 40-acre plot in Merton, Wisc., that both teach sustainable, low-cost farming techniques to people of all ages and backgrounds. Growing Power has also spread to Chicago, where Allen’s daughter Erika runs a parallel program that includes a community garden, education programs for would-be farmers and gardeners, and an organic farm in Grant Park.

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