PORTLAND, OR. (February 3, 2017) — Local start-up MudBone Grown, LLC (MBG) and its partner programs GroundUp Organics, Green A&T have launched a culturally/ethnically-specific urban food systems project at the Oregon Food Bank’s 33rd Ave. Farm. MudBone owners Shantae Johnson and Arthur Shavers are NE Portland natives that made the leap to small farm agriculture early last year.

“We are very excited about our collaboration with Christine Hadekel Outreach Manager with Oregon Food Bank for the opportunity to launch our social enterprise-based start-up farm”, said Johnson, (founder, certified community health worker, doula, and now urban farmer).  Arthur, (co-founder, construction “jack-of-all-trades”and professional leathersmith) and I have been dreaming about this for years and we were not sure how things were going to turn out after we left the BUFA (Beginning Urban Farmer Apprenticeship) program last summer.”

“This is a game changer,” says Shavers. “This assistance saves us more than $10,000 of start-up costs that usually keep many people interested in this kind of work, from being able to launch their dream of farming .

With the help from ReBuilding Center’s Community Outreach manager Edward Hill, who happens to have a background in urban farming, Shantae and Arthur in less than 60 days, were able to  finish writing a business plan, establish land agreements, and create a farm plan that supported a formal partnership with the Oregon Food Bank on nearly an acre of fully equipped land in NE Portland.

“We are so excited to have Edward and ReBuilding Center on board, their assistance has been instrumental in getting us past many of the barriers we were experiencing to getting an actual farm site in the City and large enough to create sustainable cooperative revenue.”

Additionally, education contracts with Black Parents Initiative (BPI), purchasing agreement with KAIROS School and local Food Prescription programs, and watershed enhancement funding, MudBone Grown is leading an environmental and community economic stewardship coalition that is modeled on national programs like Growing Power in Milwaukee, WI and Detroit Black Farmers in Michigan.

“Farmers, by nature, are innovative problem solvers,” said Shavers, who will lead the crop planning for the team. “We can be most effective by working toward solutions in a collaborative manner with other community groups who have been trying to leverage for a position regionally.”

MudBone Grown, formed as a LLC, focusing on promoting inter-generational community-rooted farming methods that create “measurable and sustainable environmental, social, cultural, and economic improvements.” MudBone will also be providing STEM/STEAM-based education, workshops, and outreach through things like on-farm demonstrations, hands-on engagement with local schools, and adult jobs training services for both interested small farmers and the general public.

Johnson is thrilled at the pace of success this year already; “Our community partners recognize that local agriculture is critical to healthy lives and a strong economy for communities that have historically had marginal participation in the local food economy.”

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