Marshall woman to be featured in 'Farmland' film

Deborah Deasy
| Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

An enterprising young woman is to be featured in “Farmland,” a new movie set for national release in May.

The 77-minute documentary explores the lives of six farmers and ranchers, all in their 20s, including one woman — Margaret Schlass, 29, of Marshall.

Oscar and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker James Moll directed “Farmland” with funding from the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance. The first screening near Pittsburgh is set for 7 p.m. May 1 at the Regal Harris Stadium 14 movie complex in Harrisburg, Dauphin County.

Schlass, founder of One Woman Farm, grows more than 50 kinds of vegetables on leased land, including 5 acres on Valencia Road in Richland.

Her crops include kale, eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, onions and a lot of salad greens,

“If you're interested in fresh vegetables that are naturally grown, she does an excellent job,” said Donna Snyder, who owns the five acres that Schlass leases on Valencia Road.

Last July, Moll's crew spent five days filming and talking with Schlass.

“We were in the middle of production, so they got planting, harvesting, selling, going to market, doing our deliveries,” Schlass said.

“They slowed me down so much,” said Schlass, who also got a coat of uncustomary makeup for the high-definition cameras.

“I looked like I stepped out of a coffin,” she said. “I had so much makeup on.”

But Schlass likes that “Farmland” shows her as “a young person in the community, trying to do something good …. and trying to build something from the ground up, that positively impacts the community,” she said.

“That's why I did the film, so that people could see a first-generation farmer farming, and how hard it is, and all the struggles that they have to endure,” said Schlass, who markets certified naturally grown vegetables.

“Farmland” features five other food producers: Leighton Cooley, a fourth-generation Georgia poultry farmer; Brad Bellah, a sixth-generation cattle rancher with operations in Colorado and Texas; David Loberg, a fifth-generation Nebraska corn and soybean grower; Sutton Morgan, a fourth-generation California vegetable grower; and Ryan Veldhuizen, a fourth-generation Minnesota hog farmer.

Schlass, a University of Delaware graduate, studied art history and anthropology before she traveled to South America to study Amazonian flood-plain farmers in Peru and then got hooked on agriculture.

Schlass worked for a Zelienople grower before she set up her own business.

“Every year we're expanding,” said Schlass, who now leases land in Richland, Pine and Middlesex Township in Butler County.

Schlass, a 2003 graduate of Bethel Park High School, is the daughter of Farley and Greg Schlass of Marshall.

“I am so proud of her,” her mother said.

Schlass, who has four employees, annually sells her produce at farm markets in Pittsburgh's East Liberty neighborhood and Market Square in downtown Pittsburgh.

People also can buy the produce as members of the One Woman Farm Community Supported Agriculture Market.

Memberships cost $325 or $550 and entitle members to pick up vegetables on a weekly or biweekly basis, for 23 weeks, beginning in June, at multiple Pittsburgh-area sites, including St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Hampton and Glenshaw Valley Presbyterian Church in Shaler.

For information, visit One Woman Farm online at

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or

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