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Farm in US Midwest Feeds Hungry, Teaches Farming Skills

An organic farm known as Growing Power and its owner, a former basketball player are on a mission. Over the past 15 years, Will Allen has developed what he calls an ecologically sound urban farm in Milwaukee, [in the Midwestern U.S. state] Wisconsin. In this story by Faiza Elmasry (voiced by Amy Katz), Allen also has sought to teach people ways to feed themselves.

Lauren Demet, a old Milwaukee resident, visits Will Allen's farm, Growing Power, once a week as a volunteer to help out and learn. She even participates in some of the chores. "Usually every time I come here, I milk a goat or two goats," she says.

Demet, 23, hopes this experience will help her run her own farm to produce cheese. She learns from Leona Nakielski, who also started as a volunteer but three years ago became a permanent worker.

"For me, the type of work that I do here, I feel, is the type of life style I'd like to live and encourage people to live," says Nakielski.

Walking through the farm, Nakielski shows volunteers and visitors how some 20,000 vegetables are cultivated and how workers keep more than a million red wriggler worms, a few hundred chickens, a family of goats, rabbits, geese and bees.

Farm owner Will Allen says fish are raised in an aquaponic system. "Aquaponic is growing plants and fish in the same system," he explains. "You have the fish down below. And you have plants above. It's a symbiotic relationship between the plants benefiting from the fish and the fish benefiting from the plants."

And on Allen's farm there is no waste, literally. He says, everything is recycled. "Everything that comes in here needs to be used up in the system," he says. "So, they don't have waste going into our rivers, our streams or anywhere else."

It costs $5,000 a month to provide Growing Power, and its six huge greenhouses, with the energy to keep running. Allen hopes to cut that cost.

He is building an anaerobic digester that takes solid food waste to produce acids. Allen explains, "Those acids will go into the digester to [produce] methane gas that will run a generator to produce electricity."

Allen says Growing Power began as an organic farm producing healthy and affordable food for the local community. It has expanded to a hands-on training center where local small growers learn to farm and sell their produce.

He adds, that translates his vision for local communities to be independent from chemicals and poverty into reality.