Growing Power was formed in 1993 on a small plot of land on Milwaukee's north side. What started as a small community garden has grown into a revolution for Allen to improve the lives of lower income people living in urban areas that have a shortage of grocery stores, by providing them with better access to locally grown, healthy food.
In 2011, the organization composted more than 40 million pounds of food waste, and transformed it into healthy soil. It maintained 13 farm stands in the city, which provide fresh food to urban communities that otherwise have few healthy options.
They hired more staff at living wage salaries and trained 1,500 beginning farmers through weekend workshops. The organization also acquired more than 100 acres of new land to grow more food and graduated 43 people from its Commercial Urban
Agriculture program. Thirty-six of those graduates were people of color, women, or both.
The book outlines a story of Allen's life growing up on a farm outside of Washington D.C. and eventually follows him on a journey to play college basketball at the University of Miami and professional basketball in the ABA and overseas in Belgium.
"When I left I decided I never wanted to do that farming business again," he said. "I should never say never."
Allen started helping out on a farm in Belgium before returning to the U.S. and relocating to Milwaukee as an employee for Marcus Corp. and an executive for Proctor & Gamble.
Growing Power grows and sells produce, fish, and eggs on farms in Milwaukee and Chicago, and educates others on its processes through workshops and classes. The organization teaches organic farming techniques and hopes to make farming a profession that young people want to enter, Allen said.
"Our current generation of young people rarely eat fresh foods, they don't know how to grow or prepare them, and in many cases, can't even identify them," Allen says in the book. "They have become entirely dependent on a food system that is harming them."
The book discusses Allen's belief that equal access to healthy, affordable food should be a civil right.
The book is available on 800 CEO Read, Amazon.com, iTunes and other bookseller locations.