Farm Fresh to Urban Communities in the Midwest

May 1, 2012

Quarterly Report ( January 2012 - March 2012)

The year certainly got off to a great start! Growing Power's national "From the Ground Up!" workshops began, and tons of amazing folks from all over the country came to our national headquarters in Milwaukee to learn about a variety of exciting subjects. So far this year, over 300 participants were able to choose from a plethora of options including Aquaponics, Bee Keeping, Community Project Design, Composting, Hoop House Construction, Myscpoaping, Year Round Production and Marketing, and Renewable Energy. Our staff is always excited to see new faces (and old!) and they take great pleasure in sharing their knowledge with diverse audiences. "From the Ground Up!" workshops are held once a month through June; check the website ( for dates and more information or give us a call if you have questions-- we'd love to see you there!

We're also busy planning our second annual National-International Urban & Small Farm Conference, to be held in Milwaukee from September 7th to 9th, 2012. Growing Power first hosted this event in 2010, when nearly 1500 participants gathered at the Milwaukee State Fair to share ideas for building healthy and resilient community-based food systems. This year we're looking forward to an even larger affair, where passionate folks from all walks of life- farmers, aspiring farmers, renewable energy experts, urban planners, business owners, academics, chefs, and people from countless other areas will be present and ready to mingle. There will be 17 conference tracks in total, including fantastic sessions like Urban Planning Strategies, Environmental Design Innovation, Brownfields Development, Fundraising and more! We anticipate over 3,000 participants will attend, and the nation’s most well-known food-system experts will share their knowledge and expertise! To register, or find out more about the conference, visit the site:

Of course, leading up to the conference, Growing Power will be carrying on with regular activities; providing hands on environmental education to local youth and adults through tours and volunteer opportunities, giving technical assistance to budding farmers and small farm enterprises; providing interns with meaningful work experiences, and growing good food for local communities. 2012 also finds us refining our methods and systems; for example, Growing Power is partnered with UW-Milwaukee’s Great Lakes Water Institute and Freshwater Sciences to research optimal conditions and time for spawning fish (Lake Perch) in four, 1100 gallon tanks; so exciting! Organizationally speaking, we are also in the midst of our strategic planning process and look forward to building internal capacity to better serve both the local and the national community.  

As our project draws to an end here on Global Giving, we'd like to take this time to thank YOU, our enthusiastic supporters! We wouldn't be able to accomplish anything without your support. You donate your time, your hard earned money, and your passion for The Good Food Movement with willing hearts and open hands.  We are genuinely thankful for all the ways in which you help us to impact communities that need it most.  

Here at Growing Power, we also value stakeholder input; what do you like about how we’re doing things? Where do you see opportunity for improvement? We read every comment on facebook, every email you send our way, and every letter that lands in our mail-- and we’d love to know more.

So don’t be a stranger. Play with worms. Eat good food. And may your gardens ever flourish!


Our Mission : Growing Power is a national nonprofit organization and land trust supporting people from diverse backgrounds, and the environments in which they live, by helping to provide equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe, and affordable food for people in all communities.  Growing Power implements this mission by providing hands-on training, on-the-ground demonstration, outreach, and technical assistance through the development of Community Food Systems that help people grow, process, market, and distribute food in a sustainable manner.

Our Vison : Inspiring communities to build sustainable food systems that are equitable and ecologically sound, creating a just world, one food-secure community at a time.

Jan 12, 2012

Quarterly Report (October 2011-December 2011)

What a year! Growing Power accomplished quite a bit in 2011. We are excited to share our success, as none of it would be possible without you!  Overall, Growing Power continued to expand its educational programming, increase community outreach, intensify local food production, boost distribution and refine its existing urban sustainable food system programs. We composted more than forty million pounds of food waste in 2011—more than ever before—and transformed it into healthy soil. We maintained thirteen farm stands in the city, providing fresh food to urban communities with few healthy options and hired more staff at living wage salaries. We trained 1,500 beginning farmers through our weekend workshops and acquired more than a hundred acres of new land to grow more food. We graduated forty-three people from our Commercial Urban Agriculture program and continued serving youth through our Service Learning Program, Youth Corps and numerous educational outreach projects and tours.

Growing Power has also continued developing Community Food Centers throughout the country.  During the grant period the organization expanded to partner with sixteen organizations across the country in over 12 states to implement Regional Outreach Training Centers (ROTC).  These Centers are organized in a way that provides the immediate community with training, technical support, and programming in sustainable agriculture based off of Growing Power’s successful community-based food systems work. Through the ROTC development, Growing Power training and technical assistance will build the capacity of community leaders to empower children and families in urban and rural communities to achieve a healthy, dignified and environmentally sound standard of living. The Community Food Centers are located in various regions including the Southeast, Southwest, Northeast and other areas.

Our composting operation is flourishing as well: we partnered with the local Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) to secure three locations to support centralized large scale compost operations and increased year round food production.  We also made great strides on the renewable energy front : our 10.8kw solar photovoltaic array, since its installation  in the spring of 2010, has  produced 24.8 MWh (24, 838, 174w). The energy created by our solar array is estimated to have offset 10.4 tons of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions! We installed a new polycarbonate roof in Greenhouse One allowing over 40% more light for an estimated carbon offset of 4.85 tons!

In the New Year, we are looking forward to ramping up production, expanding distribution, developing organizational capacity and strengthening community outreach. We are moving forward on preparation for the five story vertical farm and finishing our plans for the local  store on Martin Luther King Drive ,  which will include space  for retail, a deli and a farmstand situated below office and residential apartments in a distressed (but developing) neighborhood.  Growing Power is also excited about continuing its relationship with the Milwaukee Public School System in our “Farm Fresh to MPS” initiative (since October, Growing Power has supplied 5 tons in carrots alone!)

We love hearing from you, so feel free to shoot us an email or a phone call with questions you may have about what we do here. Even better, pay us a visit!  We have tours daily at 1:00pm at our headquarters, and through June, you can participate in Growing Power’s  monthly “From the Ground Up!” weekend-long workshops (visit our website for registration info). Growing Power hopes your New Year has gotten off to a great start, and looks forward to sharing our progress with you in the coming months!

Oct 14, 2011

Farm Fresh to Urban Communities in the Midwest Quarterly Report ( July-September 2011)


The second half of the year brought many exciting things to Growing Power, its dedicated supporters and good friends!

July and August saw great growth in Growing Power’s capacity to get fresh, nutritious (and tasty!) food to our local community.  The marketing and production team quarters overflowed with gorgeous produce from Growing Power’s multiple farm and hoop house sites as crops responded to the warmer summer.  Demand for produce from Growing Power’s local farms, as well as local farmers involved in Growing Power’s Rainbow Farmer’s Co-op, increased substantially as well. Growing Power bees produced fresh, delicious honey, which got packaged under the Growing Power label, Urban Honey.  Of course, Growing Power also continued its Farm to City Market Basket program, which provides weekly delivery of bountiful baskets for Milwaukee families seeking affordable, safe and healthy food.

Growing Power is also happy to announce that Growing Power’s CEO, Will Allen, received the 2011 James Beard Foundation award. The 2011 James Beard Foundation Leadership Awards recognize visionaries in the business, government, and education sectors working toward creating a healthier, safer and more sustainable food world. This year’s inaugural honorees—who range from urban agriculture heroes to tireless healthy school food pioneers to corporate business leaders (Michelle Obama is among this year’s recipients)  —were chosen by an advisory board of a dozen experts committed to advancing food quality and healthful, sustainable practices. The Leadership Awards recognize specific outstanding initiatives as well as bodies of work and lifetime achievement. Winners are honored at a dinner ceremony during the James Beard Foundation Food Conference  in early October taking place in New York City.

In the latter half of the summer, Growing Power staff and affiliates were busy with plans to help kick-off the 4th annual Growing Food and Justice for all Initiative (GFJI) Conference. The Growing Food and Justice for All Initiative is an initiative aimed at dismantling racism and empowering low-income and communities of color through sustainable and local agriculture. This comprehensive network views dismantling racism as a core principal which brings together social change agents from diverse sectors working to bring about new, healthy and sustainable food systems.  It also supports and builds multicultural leadership in impoverished communities throughout the world. The vision for this initiative is to establish a powerful network of individuals, organizations and community based entities all working toward a food secure and just world. The conference took place September 9th-11th in Milwaukee and included a plethora of powerful, interesting and informative workshops and trainings. You can see footage of the conference, access conference workshop descriptions, download workshop documents and view facilitator info by visiting the website

In September, Growing Power also welcomed 7  visitors from Uganda and Kenya through the BOLD Fellows Program, an exchange program that takes place with diverse groups of adults from Sub-Saharan Africa. The program is designed as a fundamental exploration of food security and is developed with support from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State and corresponding U.S. Embassies. The adult exchanges are between professionals working within social, economic and political aspects of food security as related to Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture.  It includes an eight-week exchange for African participants--which includes a six-week fellowship at a food security related site--and a two-week exchange for U.S. participants, who get a chance to travel and learn in Kenya and Uganda. Growing Power is excited that they are here, and about the mutual exchange of culture and technical expertise.

Growing Power is also looking forward to wrapping up its first round of Community Food Systems Specialist training in the coming weeks. Growing Power’s job training program prepares urban, older youth with the skills needed to succeed in the growing urban sustainable agriculture sector. As part of their job training requirement, the youth help construct hoop-houses around the city and contribute to the production of local food distributed through Growing Power’s Rainbow Farmer’s Cooperative to stores, restaurants and Milwaukee families via the Farm-to-City Market Basket program.

Growing Power also increased support for their Regional Outreach Training Centers (ROTC). Growing Power’s ROTCs are located in over 10 states and are actively creating community food centers of their own and improving the local urban agricultural infrastructure.  Growing Power assists these local community food centers in building organizational strength through effective strategic planning, leadership development, infrastructural development, financial sustainability guidance, anti- racism education and promoting networking opportunities.

Growing Power is looking forward to the rest of the year as it gears up for the holiday season, and hopes that supporters will continue to be generous as low-income families struggle through the upcoming winter. One upcoming concrete way you can help is to contribute on October 19th, which is GlobalGiving's LAST Bonus Day! Starting at 12:01 am EDT, GlobalGiving will be matching all donations (up to $1,000 per donor, per project)! Growing Power fervently believes that its friends and supporters (that means you!) will rise to the challenge and grow the Good Food Movement!

Aug 4, 2011

Farm Fresh to Urban Communities in the Midwest Quarterly Report (April, 2011 - June, 2011)

For the 2010-2011 school year, Growing Power, through its Rainbow Farmers Cooperative, provided 10,167 Milwaukee Public School (MPS) elementary-aged students with a locally grown and fresh snack, i.e., sunflower micro-greens, carrot sticks.  Of these students, 8,897 are SNAP-eligible.  This local food procurement is a major component of Growing Power's and the Milwaukee Public School system's partnership.  As MPS teachers and students receive training in urban sustainable agriculture methods, project implementation, and curriculum development, Growing Power is actively increasing production and its Rainbow Farmers Cooperative membership to be able to meet the food needs of Wisconsin's largest public school district (81,372 students total).  Growing Power has been providing locally grown food to MPS since the 2008-2009 school year, when the organization conducted a pilot project with ten elementary schools to introduce new and healthy, locally grown foods to students and review their reactions.  In general, students are very receptive to trying the sunflower micro-greens (which have a nutty flavor reminiscent of sunflower seeds, a popular snack food for many students) and even more excited upon touring the Growing Power National Training and Community Food Center.  In the past three months, Growing Power staffs welcomed on average five groups of youth per week.  Altogether, the organization educated over a thousand youth through tours, planting projects, and service learning.

 In addition, Growing Power staff will have completed the "From the Ground Up" workshop series by the end of June, 2011.  Altogether, six weekend-long workshops were offered to train participants in various urban and sustainable agricultural techniques/systems.  Current topics include 1. Living Biological Worm Systems & Compost; 2. Aquaculture; 3. Beekeeping; 4. Community Project Design; 5.Year-round Greenhouse Production; 6. Hoop-house production; 7. Mycoscaping; 8. Renewable Energy; 9. Hoop-House Construction; and 10. Dismantling Racism in the Food System.

In May, Growing Power graduated its 2011 Commercial Urban Sustainable Agriculture Training Class.  Altogether, 43 people graduated and will implement their business/strategic plans in communities across the U.S. in Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Detroit, Phoenix, Indianapolis, Dallas, Nashville, Birmingham, and many more.

 Finally, Growing Power launched its “Growing Capacity for the Green Economy” Initiative this past April, 2011.  This ambitious initiative will support the construction of 150 hoop-houses throughout the City of Milwaukee for local food production/distribution AND the creation of 150 full-time positions by the end of 2013. 


Mar 15, 2011

Farm Fresh to Urban Communities in the Midwest Quarterly Report (December, 2010 - March, 2011)

Over 150 Farm to City Market Baskets were donated to unemployed individuals and their families over the Holiday season.  These market baskets included fruits and vegetables commonly eaten around the Holidays as well as fresh greens and salad mix grown in our year-round greenhouses at the Milwaukee-based Community Food Center.  The baskets were complemented by locally produced butter, eggs, and spices donated by Penzeys Spices.  In addition to these donated baskets, Growing Power continued to deliver weekly orders and provide daily regular market baskets for families seeking affordable, safe and healthy food.

January, 2011 marked the beginning of Growing Power’s “From the Ground Up!” workshop season.  From the Ground Up! Workshops are intensive, hands-on trainings offering diverse groups the opportunity to learn, plan, develop, operate, and sustain community food projects.  Project participants leave the workshop with improved skills that they can take back into their communities and pass on to others.  These workshops are for both rural and urban projects.  Several sessions are offered per workshop, including Living Biological Worm Systems & Compost, Aquaculture, Beekeeping, Community Project Design, Year-round Greenhouse production, Hoop-house Construction, Mycoscaping (mushrooms), and Renewable Energy. 

Several Milwaukee Public School teachers have enrolled to attend all of the monthly workshops (three to date) and brought Milwaukee Public School students to the January workshop.  The workshops are offered one weekend per month on a monthly basis, January – June.  Altogether, Growing Power welcomed hundreds of people at the Milwaukee-based Growing Power Community Food Center to participate in these workshops.  Scholarships are available on a monthly basis and provided to people with a demonstrated need and interest in intensive sustainable agriculture.

January also marked the beginning of Growing Power’s Commercial Urban Agriculture Training (CUA) Course.  This five-month course is a series of monthly sessions that align with Growing Power’s workshops.  The CUA trainees learn basic skills in business and non-profit development throughout the five month training concluding with the development of a customized business plan for future implementation.  Growing Power welcomed over 50 trainees for the 2011 season who travel from all over the country to attend these monthly sessions.  Growing Power completed three monthly sessions to date, covering topics such as Project Planning, Marketing, and Financials and Human Resources.

In general, over the four month period, Growing Power welcomed over 5,000 people to tour the Milwaukee-based Growing Power Community Food Center.  Our tour guides shared information about our sustainable agriculture systems and the history of Growing Power.  Tour participants ranged from Milwaukee Public School students, university volunteers, families, government officials, businesses, and farmers.  Growing Power considers these tours as a gateway and introduction to the organization’s effective programs.  Several people have elected to participate in a Growing Power training, the market basket program, or other special events as a result of touring our Milwaukee facility.  Tours are offered daily at 1:00PM Central Time and made available to groups through our Main Office: 414-527-1546.

Growing Power is also well underway with the national Food Security Fellowship program that will offer exchange experiences for professionals from the U.S. and select African countries working in community food systems.  Growing Power’s Milwaukee and Chicago facilities will host Food Security Fellows during the 2011 year, exposing these Fellows to the innovative and successful urban sustainable agricultural systems that have developed over the past two decades.  Some Growing Power staff and qualified individuals from across the U.S. will participate in exchanges in select African countries, sharing knowledge and exchanging experience and information.


About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.

An anonymous donor will match all new monthly recurring donations, but only if 75% of donors upgrade to a recurring donation today.
Terms and conditions apply.
Make a monthly recurring donation on your credit card. You can cancel at any time.
Make a donation in honor or memory of:
What kind of card would you like to send?
How much would you like to donate?
gift Make this donation a gift, in honor of, or in memory of someone?


Growing Power

Milwaukee, WI, United States

Project Leader

Cassie Brayton

Milwaukee, WI United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Farm Fresh to Urban Communities in the Midwest