Recognizing visionaries in the business, government, and education sectors responsible for creating a healthier, safer, and more sustainable food world, the James Beard Foundation has named Will Allen, CEO of Growing Power, a recipient of the inaugural James Beard Foundation Leadership Awards.
Allen, an urban farmer, has gained regional and national attention over the last two decades for his work as the lead trainer and Chief Executive Officer of the Milwaukee-based, non-profit organization, Growing Power, Inc. In 1993, Allen offered a group of teens the opportunity to help him renovate the Growing Power greenhouses in order to grow food for their community. What started as a simple partnership to grow a few gardens blossomed into a national and global commitment to sustainable food systems, using the innovative Growing Power Community Food Center as the demonstration model and training grounds to support this initiative.
“One of my core beliefs is that healthy communities cannot exist without healthy food systems,” said Allen. “At our urban farm, everyone is welcome.” From elementary students and farmers to government officials and University professors, Growing Power welcomes anyone who is interested in urban sustainable food systems, renewable energy, the environment, and of course, FOOD, to participate in at least one of the many educational opportunities the organization offers year-round. In particular, Growing Power provides regular trainings, resource development, and technical support-outreach for limited resource farmers and socially disadvantaged communities.
The Leadership Awards represent a new focal point for the Foundation as the culinary arts organization enters its 25th anniversary year. “Our Foundation is widely known for recognizing the best chefs and restaurateurs in America through our annual James Beard Awards,” said Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation. “Our new Leadership Awards shine the spotlight on game-changing pioneers who have inspired positive action to improve our country’s food system.”
Honorees were chosen by an advisory board comprised of a dozen experts from diverse areas of expertise. The Leadership Awards recognize specific outstanding initiatives as well as bodies of work and lifetime achievement. Among the criteria used to select final honorees are excellence of work, innovation in approach, and scale of impact within a community or the nation.
Will Allen and the other nine first-time recipients of the Leadership Awards will be honored at a ceremony and dinner prepared by James Beard Award-winning chefs Michel Nischan and Anne Quatrano during the second annual James Beard Foundation Food Conference. The invitation-only conference, co-hosted by Good Housekeeping, will take place on October 12 and 13 at the Hearst Tower in New York City.
Food is the world’s biggest industry, with restaurants alone contributing more than $550 billion to our national economy. Media messages about food saturate our culture at every turn. The 2011 James Beard Foundation Food Conference, Sustainability on the Table: How Money and Media Influence the Way America Eats, will explore these two themes. Founding support for the JBF Food Conference was provided by GRACE Communications, Edens & Avant, and Sodexo. The Conference is also made possible with support from American Humane Association, Karp Resources, and UBS. For more information, visit www.jbffoodconference.org.
Tickets to the inaugural Leadership Awards Dinner are available for $1,000, and tables of ten are available for $10,000. A portion of each ticket or table purchase is tax-deductible as allowed by law.
For event information or to purchase tickets, please contact Bowen & Company at 212.925.0054 or visit www.jbfleadershipawards.org.