The 2015 All-School Read is The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities, by Will Allen, CEO of Growing Power, urban farming pioneer, and MacArthur “Genius Award” winner. The book is a story of Allen’s personal journey and his grassroots movement to create an innovative food system for inner-city communities.
1) Will Allen describes his early career as professional basketball player, corporate salesman, and discotheque and fast-food manager. He also describes his challenges with financial trouble and his battle with cancer. How did those detours and failures influence Mr. Allen’s decisions described later in the book? Do you feel that setbacks and failures have been beneficial or destructive for you?
2) “The fate of a seed can be predicted by the health of the soil where it takes root. This is true of summer crops. It can be true, in another sense, of people.” In what ways does The Good Food Revolution try to draw a connection between ecology and human development?
3) The development of Growing Power depended on a number of committed individuals. What does Will Allen’s story say about the role of chance encounters in our lives? How much of our successes and failures are self-determined and how much are a product of other people?
4) Will Allen describes his urban farm as a “work in progress” and the book reveals how it developed over two decades. Mr. Allen says “all big things are created by a slow and steady accumulation of small, stumbling steps.” Are there things you have not pursued because the road ahead seemed too long? Have you experienced situations where your idealism has led to inaction?
5) After reading the book, how do you feel about Will Allen’s vision for the food system? Are you more or less skeptical about the future of food? Did the book change you in any way or inspire you to do anything differently?