Shantae Johnson, co-owner of MudBone Grown, stands at the Oregon Food Bank’s Unity Farm, where her startup — which also provides education, outreach and advocacy around food justice and urban farming — is now growing food. Photo by Christen McCurdy Shantae Johnson and Arthur Shavers both grew up in Portland and both grew up gardening.
Johnson’s great-grandmother grew berries for the J.M. Smucker company, and her family grew much of its own food. Shavers helped his grandmother in the garden when he was young. After they met they kept a garden wherever they could – in community garden plots or in the back yard of a condo – but dreamed of having their own farm.
Now they’ve launched MudBone Grown, a company focused on promoting farming, education and community outreach – and a culturally specific urban food systems project at the Oregon Food Bank’s 33rd Avenue farm.
Prior to the company’s launch, Johnson worked for Multnomah County as a community health worker and breastfeeding peer counselor. Shavers had worked as a leather smith, firefighter and emergency medical technician.
Having inherited an interest in growing food, they wanted to pass that on to their children: they each had two from previous relationships when they met, and have since had two together.
“We wanted to teach our kids to be self-sufficient,” Johnson said.