MPS to benefit from Growing Power and Sysco partnership

Growing Power staff members along with founder Will Allen are excited about new partnership with Sysco. (Photo by Robert A. Bell)

A 34-acre tract of land in Jackson, WI, will give Southeastern Wisconsin food lovers a chance to enjoy the healthy flavors of locally grown produce when dining at nearby eateries and in local public schools, thanks to a partnership between Growing Power, Inc. of Milwaukee and Sysco Eastern Wisconsin.

In partnership with Will Allen, founder and CEO of Growing Power, Sysco recently launched a local cooperative farming project. It is donating the use of 34 acres adjacent to its Jackson distribution center on Mill Road to Growing Power. This will allow Growing Power to harvest carrots, cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot pepper, zucchini and yellow squash in the project’s first year.

Additionally, Sysco and Growing Power are working with local public schools to allow children to participate in the cultivating of fresh, healthy food options within their local communities. The first year’s crop has been planted and will be harvested in throughout the 2011 growing season. Sysco and Growing Power currently participate in the Milwaukee Public Schools Initiative, which has helped serve more than 25,000 MPS students with locally grown food. The Jackson farm program aims to triple the number of MPS students served to 75,000.

“This is a wonderful beginning to a healthy partnership that will improve the nutritional content of our schools’ meals, support local agriculture, and teach our youth about healthy eating,” said Will Allen, founder of Growing Power and nationally recognized urban agriculture leader. “It’s important that all stakeholders, especially food distributors such as Sysco, are at the good food revolution table to develop a more integrated, local, sustainable food system.”

Cathy Henry, president of Sysco Eastern Wisconsin, said, “This opportunity to partner with such a reputable organization as Growing Power is an excellent way to develop a source of highquality local produce at a lower cost – and to put that food on our customers’ tables within 24 hours of its availability. It’s also a meaningful way to support our local economy, to contribute to managing our environmental impact on the community and to offer our local schoolchildren the chance to become involved in local farming activities.”