As part of its emphasis on promoting agricultural and science careers, Kauaʻi Community College launched its Agriculture and Science Speaker Series on Monday, January 25.
Opening the evening was a showing of Farmland, a documentary on the lives of six successful young farmers and ranchers, directed by Academy Award winner James Moll. Following the film, Margaret Schlass (featured in the documentary) presented her journey as a first-generation Certified Naturally Grown vegetable farmer and business owner of One Woman Farm in Pennsylvania.
In addition to her public appearance, Schlass met with students in the Natural Resources Pathway from all three public high schools at the college. She also met with KCC credit and non-credit agriculture classes and toured several farms on island.
Farmland captures an in-depth view into the lives of farmers and ranchers in their 20s who have chosen high risk, high reward careers and how they have been able to successfully live their passion for a way of life. This next generation of farmers and ranchers show what it is like to farm and ranch using a variety of modern day practices.
“I am thrilled that Kauaʻi CC is able to headline this series of presentations,” KCC Chancellor Helen Cox said. “Opening with agriculture demonstrates the college’s firm support for the building of agriculture as a healthful and successful industry on Kauaʻi. We need to collectively encourage our next generation of farmers and ranchers.”
Schlass’ love for farming was ignited while on a study abroad trip to Peru as a student at Delaware University. After graduating, she worked for Don and Becky Kretschmann, pioneering organic farmers in Rochester, New York and at Garden of Eve in Riverhead, New York.
Not formally trained to farm, Schlass received her education directly from growers and in 2008 at the age of 23, took a risk and started her own farm and business — One Woman Farm. In just seven years, One Woman Farm is now a 120-member agriculture business. Schlass grows and markets her produce through a Community Supported Agriculture membership program, farmers markets and a partnership with one of the largest group of restaurant owners in her area.
“You have to love it. It is hard work, but if you say can do, you are can do,” Schlass on farming.