The program includes several options to visit farms across the Upper Midwest. Students will be invited to visit the farm closest to their location. Site visits will be hosted by farmers of color. We’ll tour the farm and hear about each farmer’s commitment to the land and have a candid discussion about all aspects of their farming experience.
Minnesota. In Minnesota, we’ll visit with Moses and Lonah Momanyi. In addition to running their own successful farm (Dawn 2 Dusk Farm), they founded the organization Kilimo Minnesota in 2020. Kilimo Minnesota is an organic incubator farm with a mission to empower emerging farmers of African descent, socially and economically, through mentorship, farmland access navigation and community building. Kilimo Minnesota offers a three to five year hands-on training program that includes farming experience, group classes, networking and one-on-one business mentoring. The program, founded by and for farmers of African descent, is uniquely situated to give emerging farmers an opportunity to learn growing techniques and business skills in a new climate, country and culture while in a comfortable peer setting. Moses also works closely with another budding organization, the African Growers and Producers Alliance.
Iowa. In Iowa we’ll visit a regenerative organic farm bringing humanely-raised meats and eggs to consumers. Jóia Food Farm is a diverse livestock and organic grain farm located near Charles City in Northeast Iowa owned and operated by farmers Wendy Johnson and Johnny Rafkin. They left the bright lights, big city of Los Angeles in 2010 out of a desire to connect with food and to live a life filled with intention and genuine purpose. A life that integrates the land, family, community, the work they do, and the food they raise. Wendy and Johnny are advocates of nutrient dense slow food, from raising it to preparing it. They believe in the principles of agro-ecology, with a focus on biodiversity, the sharing of animals and plants working together to create healthy soils, healthy animals, healthy plants, a healthy environment and most importantly, healthy food. They raise heritage pigs, sheep, turkeys, ducks and chickens. They grow certified organic grains and lush pastures and use regenerative methods to grow the livestock in the soils and plant trees, including fruit and nut trees and bushes annually to increase the diversity on the farm.
Wendy is originally from Iowa, but left the farm she grew up on to go to college, move to Los Angeles and fulfill a career in the fashion industry. After 18 years away from the farm, she returned with an entirely new appreciation for the family farm and a vision for its future. A farm is a place to grow roots figuratively and literally, and she is making every effort to do so. Wendy helps manage her family farm in addition to implementing the strategies and new ideas on the farm she and Johnny have made home. She loves learning and continually finding new and better ways to grow soil, food, awareness and community. Wendy is also active as a Climate Land Leader, connecting Iowa livestock farmers to markets through 99 counties, and as a board member at Practical Farmers of Iowa. She’s featured in PFI’s feature length film Livestock on the Land.
Illinois. Mrs. Zintambila is also known to many as Mama Chiko, Mama Mboga, Mama Janet, Ms. JZ, Mama Mahindi and Mama Wetu. Born and raised in Kenya, East Africa, she migrated to the USA in 1979 in pursuit of further education at Iowa Wesleyan College, Mt. Pleasant IA. She subsequently obtained her Master’s degree in Counselor Education from Western Illinois University, Macomb IL. Living in the Midwest, a rich agricultural area, Mrs. Zintambila’s love for growing crops, in particular those native to her home country, Kenya, has evolved. Her late husband Professor Dr. Henry Zintambila and her sons Chiko Zintambila and Vincent Airo Mmata have worked side by side during the growing season helping in many aspects. Currently, her main crop, White Green Maize used for roasting, boiling and making Githeri a famous traditional Kenyan dish makes many ethnic families in the USA happy. Mrs. Zintambila resides in Normal, Illinois. She also works for Homes of Hope Inc in Normal.