Let's Give the Gift of Good Food Through Growing Power

By Markets Fool.com

Image source: Growing Power.

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By now, we've all finished our Thanksgiving meals of gratitude and survived Black Friday shopping -- and even possibly supported some mom-and-pop establishments on Small Business Saturday or clicked our way through our gift lists on Cyber Monday. That brings us to Giving Tuesday, when we turn our attention to ways we can give to help boost others during the holiday season.

Giving Tuesday also marks the day we here at The Motley Fool launch our annual fundraising campaign for an organization that we believe can yield loads of positive impact in the world. We're all about helping the world invest better, but every holiday season, we want to do our best to help our community give better, too.

This year, we're getting back to the land, so to speak, through our chosen Foolanthropy recipient. Our 2016 Foolanthropy partner is Wisconsin-based Growing Power, a nonprofit farm operation and land trust that has been focused on providing sustainable, affordable, healthy food -- and jobs and training -- to the diverse communities it works in since 1993.

Help us reach our $60,000 fundraising goal for Growing Power -- or even our $100,000 super stretch goal! -- by donating at give.fool.com, or read on for more about this homegrown force for healthy food production.

Planting the seeds for healthier communities

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After a varied career as a professional basketball player and a corporate executive, Will Allen started Growing Power 23 years ago in Milwaukee, linking up local teens who needed employment with his farm endeavor located a half mile away from the city's largest housing project. He hired the teens to work in his store and renovate greenhouses to grow food for their community, which was a food desert -- and Growing Power has flourished since.

Today, Growing Power has incubated farms in both urban and rural settings as well as greenhouses and community gardens in Wisconsin and Illinois, providing not only fresh, affordable food produced in a sustainable manner but also jobs, training, and community outreach.

Every year, Growing Power provides more than 1 million pounds of greens, fruits, and vegetables. It also has aquaponics systems that produce perch and tilapia. In addition, it produces its own high-quality soil using vermicomposting, yielding nutrient-rich compost that blocks an estimated 1,500 pounds of food and organic waste from ending up in landfills.

It probably goes without saying that providing low-cost produce and other farmed goods in areas where fresh, local foods can be a scarce or pricy commodity is helpful to communities. Meanwhile, fostering the love of nutritious, whole foods can go a long way in helping solve some of our biggest health problems in the U.S., such as daunting obesity rates and related health issues like diabetes.

Growing Power's strength goes beyond gardens, though. The organization functions as an educational destination as well. According to its website, it provides a "living museum" and "idea factory" for young and old, as well as for farmers and producers and a variety of folks who act in the public interest when they consider the lay of the land, such as USDA personnel and those employed in urban planning.

Growing Power provides training in an array of areas, from the nuts and bolts of farming (composting, soil health, vermiculture, and so forth) to the business end of agriculture (food distribution, marketing, and value-added product development) to bigger picture areas that serve folks well (youth education, community engagement, project planning, and participatory leadership development).

Ready, set... grow

The Motley Fool will plant a $5,000 donation to launch the Foolanthropy 2016 campaign. With the help of generous folks like you, we hope to hit and hopefully even exceed three fundraising goal thresholds for Growing Power: our $60,000 basic goal, our $80,000 stretch goal, and the $100,000 super stretch goal, which would go a long way in helping Growing Power in its ongoing mission. The Fool will kick in another $2,500 when we hit the $60,000 goal. Just visit give.fool.com to donate now.

Check back at Fool.com in the weeks ahead for more on Growing Power, or you can even check out Will Allen's book, The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities. In the meantime, have a healthy and happy Giving Tuesday and start to your holiday season!

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