Urban Farmer and Best-selling Author Will Allen to Speak at Westfield State

WESTFIELD- Westfield State University will host a guest lecture by best-selling author Will Allen on Tuesday, November 15 at 7 p.m. in the Woodward Center.  Allen’s book “The Good Food Revolution:  Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities” was chosen as the university’s First-Year READ, a common book that all first-year students are required to read prior to the start of the fall semester.

Will Allen is a former professional basketball player and executive for Kentucky Fried Chicken and Procter & Gamble. The son of a sharecropper, Allen returned to his farming roots after cashing in his retirement to purchase a two-acre plot just outside Milwaukee's largest public housing project. As neighbors began to ask him for advice and guidance with growing their own crops, Allen began to teach them the ins and outs of farming.

In 1995, Allen created Growing Power Inc., a not-for-profit center for urban agriculture training and building community food systems. Through cultivating his plot, Allen perfected new methods of composting that resulted in higher yields of food despite the small dimensions of his farm. In 2008, Allen was awarded the John D. and Katherine T. MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” for his work on sustainable food production.

Growing Power is involved in more than 70 projects and outreach programs in Milwaukee, across the United States and throughout the world. “The Good Food Revolution” details Allen’s journey and the lives and communities he has impacted.

Allen’s book aligns with the university’s mission to promote healthy living. In July, Westfield State launched its own self-operated dining services based on a farm-to-fork model with guidance from UMass Dining. The new program, created with assistance of a Henry P. Kendall Foundation grant, focuses on healthy, sustainable meal options for the campus community and those in the City of Westfield that frequent Westfield’s Dining Commons.

Initiated in 2012, the First-Year READ is just one component of Connections: First Year Forward, a collaborative program designed to create a seamless transition period for first-year students from high school to college. All composition professors are required to use the First-Year READ for one major project, but some elect to use it more extensively throughout the semester. In addition to Allen’s visit and talk, a series of lectures took place throughout the semester that concentrated on the themes found in “The Good Food Revolution.”

The Nov. 15 lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, visit