Mari Jyväsjärvi Stuart (Ph.D.)
I’m an urban homesteader, edible landscape designer, storyteller and educator living in Asheville, NC. Together with my husband and daughter, I steward a 1/3-acre urban homestead where we keep chickens, grow a lot of our own food, and tinker with various DIY projects. I design edible gardens and climate-resilient landscapes, and teach permaculture and modern homesteading skills. I cook, eat, and write about local food.
And if you want to hear the longer story…
I grew up roaming the boreal woods of rural northern Finland, in a culture and family where sourcing at least some of your needs from the surrounding landscape was a given. Summers spent at my grandparents’ farm further strengthened my connection to land. As a college student, I moved to the U.S. and ended up traveling, studying and volunteering on 5 continents while pursuing an academic career. I hold a PhD in the study of religion from Harvard University and in my former life taught Asian religions and environmental ethics at Reed College and the University of South Carolina.
But after some very nomadic years, I started to feel the pull back to the ground beneath my feet, a strong desire to put down roots. As I studied permaculture design, planted the first garden of my adult life, and learned to make an absurd number of things from scratch, I realized that I was in fact returning to the values and skills I’d internalized growing up. Not only that, but cultivating that connection to land was what I wanted to do in life.
In 2016, I made a pivot. I quit my tenure-track university job, enrolled in a six-month ecological landscaping training in California, and never looked back. I’m a certified permaculture designer and teacher, a certified Ecological Landscaper, and have studied with some of the leading teachers and mentors in regenerative design and regenerative agriculture. I work as a project coordinator in a regional carbon farming project, and I cultivate my own and others’ connection to land through my gardening, freelance writing, homesteading skills teaching and edible landscape design work.