Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Summary of Lecture by Will Allen at UK in Lexington, KY

A team from the UC Urban Farm visited Lexington, KY to listen to a talk by Will Allen, a recent MacArthur Genius award winner, who founded and operates the Milwaukee-based NGO Growing Power. Some important take-home lessons from the talk (in no particular order): (1) engage the community to improve appreciation for nature and to ensure security of the garden - kids working in the garden won't be likely to damage the garden; (2) focus on the finances - a garden needs to produce $5/yr per square foot to become a viable economic enterprise; (3) soil, soil, soil is the key - compost production on-site is a must; (4) sustainable water resources are identified where they are available; (5) raised beds are built on 6-12 inches of wood chips covered with 2 ft of composted soil. Mr. Allen's presentation was lively and filled with photographs and anectdotes of his adventures as a gardener. Its clear that he has a vast practical knowledge of successful urban gardening. In the future, it would be appropriate (and useful) for a team from the UC Urban Farm to participate in a workshop sponsored by Growing Power.

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