SILT’s Corydon farm, donated by Mary Ellen Miller, is 40 acres of pasture, a large pond and timber. While soils in southern Iowa are not known for their fertility, Mary Ellen, who still lives in the nicely-appointed modular home on the site, is willing to help a beginning farmer truck in compost or wood chips.

Mary Ellen is the executive director of 50-50 in 2020, a statewide group dedicated to making half of the Iowa Legislature women by 2020. She is a Unitarian and a leader in the Republican Party, identities she loves to live with. She is the grand daughter of Amish people, a 4-H rabbit breeding champion and ran a cow-calf operation in her 20s. She has much to offer a beginning farmer interested in learning livestock, fruit, nut or vegetable production.

When Mary Ellen no longer chooses to live on site, the use of her land will be entirely under SILT’s control. A farmer already chosen for the site would have first choice of a long-term lease his or her children could inherit with the choice to gain equity in the buildings.

Marketing opportunities include Chariton, 15 miles north and Des Moines 70 miles north. The area has an active Amish community with a sale barn and is near Hy-Vee’s central distribution center.