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A Young Farmer's Vision for Food and Female Leadership in Iowa

Updated: 2 days ago

Corbin Scholz, a young organic farmer from Iowa City, is cultivating healthy food and growing a strong community and support network for women in agriculture. As the owner of Rainbow Roots Farm CSA and the farm manager at Camp Creek Organic Produce, Scholz is leading by example and encouraging other women to pursue careers in sustainable farming.


two people in a farm field
Corbin Scholz, owner of Rainbow Roots Farm in Iowa and film director, Jerry Millhon

Scholz's journey into agriculture began after graduating pre-med from the University of Iowa. Realizing that medicine wasn't her calling, she discovered a passion for regenerative agriculture and sustainable food systems. After attending the Organic Farm School (featured in a 2023 Thriving Film) in Washington state, Scholz returned to Iowa City in her early twenties to start Rainbow Roots Farm.


Despite a challenging first year, Scholz persevered, and her farm's CSA (community-supported agriculture) program has grown from 30 members in its first year to 150 members (and growing) in 2024. Rainbow Roots Farm is USDA-certified organic and employs sustainable practices like crop rotation, composting, and reduced tillage to prioritize soil health and minimize environmental impact.


In addition to running Rainbow Roots Farm, Scholz serves as the farm manager at Camp Creek Organic Produce, a 40-acre diversified vegetable farm in Kalona, Iowa, owned by James Nisly, a farmer with over 25 years in business and a deep passion for making healthy food accessible to all. Camp Creek's mission aligns closely with Scholz's values, focusing on growing healthy food for the community without exploiting the environment or its employees. (3)


Scholz's leadership extends beyond her farms. She also serves on the Sustainable Iowa Land Trust boards and the Women, Food and Agriculture Network (WFAN). WFAN, founded in 2004, aims to connect women in agriculture to share experiences, network, and promote sustainable agricultural practices and land conservation. Wren Almitra, WFAN's Program and Grants Director, notes that while women have always been involved in agriculture, their contributions have often been undervalued. "Women have always had a seat at the table, it just hasn't always been at the leadership table," Almitra said. "Their input hasn't always been heard, their knowledge hasn't always been recognized." (2)


The 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture reveals that female producers are slightly younger on average than male producers (57.1 years versus 57.7) and more likely to be beginning farmers, with 30 percent of female producers having farmed for ten years or fewer, compared to 25 percent of male producers. (4) Scholz embodies this new generation of young women who bring fresh perspectives and innovative approaches to agriculture.


Scholz sees farming as a critical way to make positive changes in the world and hopes to inspire more young people to join the farming community. "One thing I always say to young people, 'You're never too young to be interested in farming, and you're never too old to start farming,'" Scholz said. "It's important that we get more people doing this work because the world's burning. If we can try to work together to fix this system, I think a lot of other systems will fall into place as well." (2)


As Corbin Scholz continues to nurture her farms and empower other women in agriculture, she is helping to cultivate a more sustainable, equitable future for farmers and communities alike.


The Organic Farm School Documentary by Thriving Films, 2023


Sources:



3. Camp Creek Organic Produce website: https://www.campcreekorganicproduce.com/about-us


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