Pioneering urban farmer and MacArthur "Genius Award" winner Will Allen had no intention of ever becoming a farmer. But after years in professional basketball and as an executive for Kentucky Fried Chicken and Procter & Gamble, Allen cashed in his retirement fund for a two-acre plot a half mile away from Milwaukee's largest public housing project. The area was a food desert with only convenience stores and fast-food restaurants to serve the needs of local residents. In the face of financial challenges and daunting odds, Allen built the country's preeminent urban farm – a food and educational center that now produces enough vegetables and fish year-round to feed thousands of people. Employing young people from the neighboring housing project and community, Growing Power has sought to prove that local food systems can help troubled youths, dismantle racism, create jobs, bring urban and rural communities closer together, and improve public health. Today, Allen's organization helps develop community food systems across the country. An eco-classic in the making, The Good Food Revolution (Gotham, $26) is the story of Will's personal journey, the lives he has touched, and a grassroots movement that is changing the way our nation eats. Presented in collaboration with Slow Food Miami. Free and open to the public.
Julia Alvarez has been called "a one-woman cultural collision" by the "Los Angeles Times Book Review," and that has never been truer than in this story about three of her most personal relationships--with her parents, with her husband, and with a young Haitian boy known as Piti. A teenager when Julia and her husband, Bill, first met him in 2001, Piti crossed the border into the Dominican Republic to find work. Julia, impressed by his courage, charmed by his smile, has over the years come to think of him as a son, even promising to be at his wedding someday. When Piti calls in 2009, Julia's promise is tested. To Alvarez, much admired for her ability to lead readers deep inside her native Dominican culture, "Haiti is like a sister I've never gotten to know." And so we follow her across the border into what was once the richest of all the French colonies and now teeters on the edge of the abyss--first for the celebration of a wedding and a year later to find Piti's loved ones in the devastation of the earthquake. In A Wedding in Haiti (Algonquin, $22.95), as in all of Alvarez's books, a strong message is packed inside an intimate, beguiling story, this time about the nature of poverty and of wealth, of human love and of human frailty, of history and of the way we live now.