Mari Hunt Wassink

Mari Hunt Wassink

Black Earth Gardens | Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Mari Hunt WassinkWhy do you want to farm?

While volunteering at a diversified vegetable farm, I realized that my love for nature and my gardening hobby were not incompatible with my lifelong pursuit of racial justice. In fact, farming and racial justice are intertwined and inseparable. Farming has become for me a ministry and a tool for anti-racism. It also has become a healing practice for my physical and mental wellbeing.

What are you farming right now?   

I am currently operating my farm, Black Earth Gardens, on a half-acre in Cedar Rapids through Feed Iowa First’s Equitable Land Access Program. Using organic and regenerative practices, I grow vegetables, herbs and fruits that are culturally relevant to the Black and African diaspora communities of eastern Iowa.

What’s your vision for your farm?

I envision Black Earth Gardens at the intersection of regenerative agriculture and anti-racist activism. The three driving goals of my farm are to increase access to produce of cultural importance to Black communities, to dismantle food apartheid in our neighborhoods and to steward and renew the ecosystems in which we operate.

Why do you want to participate in this program?

I don’t have formal training in business planning or administration, so I am looking forward to learning how to manage the administrative aspects of my farm business. In addition, my farm’s biggest barrier to success is lack of capital. I am excited to participate in the savings match and farmer of color start-up to help my business succeed.