By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Feb 10, 2009 at 10:54 AM

Growing Power CEO Will Allen was just votes away from being in the top three vote-getters in the running for the Obamas' White House farmer.

Milwaukee's Allen was one of many farmers from across the country to be nominated to transform part of the White House lawn into an organic farm to raise fruits and vegetables for use in not only the Obama's family meals, but also in local food pantries.

Allen might not be the next "Farmer-in-Chief," but he does have an opportunity to share his knowledge of sustainable agriculture this Friday, Feb. 13. Former President Bill Clinton invited him to participate in a panel discussion called "The Future of Food" at the University of Texas at Austin.

Drew Barrymore, who has been named an Ambassador Against Hunger to the U.N. World Food Programme, is also on the panel, which will address 1,000 college students and 200 university presidents and chancellors from institutions across the nation about food security and food justice in a world threatened by economic and political upheaval, global warming, overpopulation and outmoded food policies. The conference is a part of the Clinton Global Initiative.

The following on Monday, Allen visits Yale University for an address on the Yale Sustainable Food Project, which directs programs that "support exploration and academic inquiry related to food and agriculture," and also manages a sustainable dining program and an organic farm on the Yale campus.

"It's pretty clear that food, pure and simple, is not being taken for granted anymore," Allen said in a statement. "Conferences like these, sponsored by some of the most important institutions in the world, suggest it has finally sunk in: We need to address hunger as a global threat."

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”