Malcolm Shabazz Hoover is rattling off his vegetable varieties to two potential customers from a local restaurant.
“It’s called Brassica juncea, a west African mustard green,” Hoover says to Marissa Lorette and Ian Watson, co-owners of BeesWing, a local restaurant looking to work with Black businesses. He picks some from the ground and offers it to them. “Taste it.”
“It’s sweet and spicy,” Watson says, looking pleased and happily confused, and Black Futures Farm bags another client. This brings the number of entities to which it sells produce through the city’s Community Supported Agriculture program to 17 – in less than a year of operation.
I have come to meet Hoover on his micro farms at Portland State University’s Learning Gardens Laboratory. I’ve known this Black naval reserve vet for many years – and the silver-haired 50-year-old has, at times, been one of the most restive and unstable of my Portland associates. When I heard he had turned to farming, I had to see it for myself.