Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table (Food Heroes #1)

by Jacqueline Briggs Martin (Author) Eric-Shabazz Larkin (Illustrator)

Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table (Food Heroes #1)
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Series: Food Heroes
Will Allen is no ordinary farmer. A former basketball star, he's as tall as his truck, and he can hold a cabbage--or a basketball--in one hand. But what is most special about Farmer Will is that he can see what others can't see. When he looked at an abandoned city lot in Milwaukee he saw a huge table, big enough to feed the whole world.

No space, no problem. Poor soil, there's a solution. Need help, found it. Farmer Will is a genius in solving problems. In 2008, the MacArthur Foundation named him one for his innovative urban farming methods, including aquaponics and hydroponics.

Jacqueline Briggs Martin, author of the Caldecott Medal winner, Snowflake Bentley, and Alice Waters and the Trip to Delicious , along with debut artist Eric-Shabazz Larkin's striking artwork, tells the inspiring story of the African American innovator, educator, and community builder.

Farmer Will Allen is the first book of Martin's Food Heroes series, followed by Alice Waters and the Trip to Delicious. In 2015, it was selected by Points of Light Foundation to set a new Guinness World Record for the most children reading the same book across the globe to promote literacy. Nearly 300,000 participated.
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School Library Journal

Starred Review

Gr 3-6—This engaging introduction to the work of Will Allen and his organization, Growing Power, should stimulate interest in gardening in schools, homes, and communities. After playing basketball professionally in Belgium, Allen settled in Wisconsin. He bought a Milwaukee city lot complete with empty greenhouses. With the help of friends and neighbors, he improved the soil through composting and expanded the growing spaces. Recipient of a MacArthur "Genius Grant," Allen has taken his message of growing and serving food locally across the United States and to other countries. Visitors from around the world come to the Milwaukee farm. Larkin's energetic illustrations reflect both hard work outdoors and the delicious results on a table loaded with good food. In a final spread, Allen waves from a rooftop garden to the Statue of Liberty, who is holding aloft a bunch of beets and cradling a basket of vegetables in her arm. His afterword urges readers to farm wherever they are and exudes the enthusiasm that has inspired others to join him. Martin includes a fine list of resources to assist prospective gardeners.—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato

Copyright 2013 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"[Will had] seen that fresh vegetables were as scarce in the city as trout in the desert. Will believed everyone, everywhere, had a right to good food. But how could Will farm in the middle of pavement and parking lots?"
— from the book
Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Jacqueline Briggs Martin's many children's books include Snowflake Bentley, winner of the Caldecott Medal, and Alice Waters and the Trip to Delicious, a School Library Journal "starred" review book. She grew up on a farm in Maine and now lives in Mt. Vernon, Iowa.

Eric-Shabazz Larkin made his illustration debut with Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table in 2013 and his author-illustrator debut with A Moose Boosh: A Few Choice Words About Food in 2014. Both were named ALA Notable Books. He lives in New York City.

Will Allen is a farmer and founder and CEO of Growing Power in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is recognized as a preeminent practitioner of urban agriculture in America and throughout the world. A former basketball star, he was named a MacArthur "Genius" Fellow in 2008 and Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World" in 2010.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Readers to Eaters
Publication date
September 20, 2013
Food Heroes
BISAC categories
JNF007000 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | General
JNF051020 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Technology | Agriculture
Library of Congress categories
Vegetable gardening
Urban agriculture
Allen, Will
Land of Enchantment Book Award
Nominee 2015 - 2016
Star of the North Picture Book Award
Nominee 2015 - 2015
Louisiana Young Readers' Choice Award
Nominee 2016 - 2016

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