Occupation: edible landscape designer, carbon farming organizer, urban homesteader, freelance writer
Residence: Asheville, N.C.
Background: Mari grew up in rural northern Finland, in a culture and family where nature connection, gardening and foraging are the norm rather than the exception. Moving to the United States as a college student and subsequently studying, traveling and volunteering on five continents taught her the value of broader perspectives, but also of the land-based provisioning practices of her homeland.
Mari holds a PhD in the study of religion from Harvard University, and for several years taught Asian religions and environmental ethics at Reed College and the University of South Carolina. During these years as an academic, she returned to her childhood love of gardening and foraging and began studying permaculture design. She became a self-taught natural dyer and started to learn how to make just about everything from scratch, from sweaters and soap to candles and herbal medicines.
The irresistible pull of land-based living led her to leave her academic position in 2016 to pursue ecological landscape design and regenerative farm planning full-time. She is a Certified Permaculture Designer and Teacher, a Certified Ecological Landscaper, and has studied with many of the renowned leaders of the regenerative agriculture and ecological design movements.
Mari is the co-founder of Project Grounded, an initiative that connects urban consumers to the regenerative agriculture movement through their daily choices. She is currently working to develop a pioneering community-supported carbon farming program in Western North Carolina. She has taught Regenerative Design for SIT Graduate Institute’s Master’s Program in Sustainable Development, modern homesteading classes in her community, and is a frequent speaker at farming and gardening conferences. She writes about local food for Edible Asheville Magazine and is working on a book on re-localizing our material lives.
Mari lives in Asheville, North Carolina, where she stewards an urban homestead together with her husband and daughter. On her happiest days, she’s got her hands in the dirt, or is in the midst of making something from scratch. She is fascinated with where things come from and how they are made, and how material lives can connect people to place.
Read all of Mari’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.Photo by Emily Nichols
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