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Rainbow Lake Farm

Chelsea, Iowa

Matching Partner: N/A

Growing up in Iowa, I spent my summers visiting and exploring my family farm, and these experiences formed my love of the natural world. Years later, while traveling around the country as an artist, I attended many music festivals and gatherings that introduced me further to organic farming, permaculture, herbalism, and regenerative land practices. This then fueled me to volunteer on many organic farms around the world and study permaculture and herbalism in Costa Rica. During these travels, I always was thinking about how I could take these practices back to Iowa, and live a life of land stewardship and connection to the earth.

In 2020, I moved to my family farm in Iowa to start a no-till, regenerative market farm called Rainbow Lake Farm. My Grandfather started this farm, and six generations of my family before him have lived within two miles of this land. He was a well-respected leader in Iowa agriculture and an advocate for sustainable practices his entire life. In my first growing season, we sold at two farmers’ markets, grew over 50 varieties of crops, and sold produce to multiple restaurants and grocery stores.

This year we are installing four acres of native prairie, building a high tunnel greenhouse, creating more no-till garden beds, and building the soil with compost tea and organic matter. I am grateful to be able to grow the highest quality organic food for our community and family. I am committed to soil health, regenerative practices, bio-regional permaculture systems, and educating others on these value systems as well.

I hope to continue to build our farm infrastructure so we can hold gatherings and workshops to educate people and let others experience the beauty and fulfillment of working with the earth.

Business Description

Rainbow Lake Farm is a two-acre, regenerative market farm that grows a large variety of produce. We have sold at farmers’ markets, we offer an informal CSA program where friends can sign up each week to receive a box of produce, and we sell food to local grocery stores and restaurants. We pride ourselves on using all organic seeds and practices, and the quality of our soil and produce reflect this. Soil structure is key for the operation, and we are implementing compost teas, mulch, wood chips, cover crops, and other no-till methods to build soil quality over the years to come. This style of farming is done with hand tools and no tractor to be as non-invasive to land, soil, and surroundings as possible.

The Farm is located in the rural hills of the central Iowa River valley. The farm sits on a large sprawling acreage surrounded by forest, next to a small lake and a couple of hundred acres of cattle pasture. With this expanse of land, we can curate a very serene atmosphere, and we are looking to expand to the curation of farm dinners, farm stays, workshops, and retreats. We travel to larger cities nearby to sell our products and are looking to expand into the local smaller communities to provide better access to food in locations and small towns where the fresh-from-the-farm, organic produce is scarce or non-existent.

I started this farm to help continue my grandfather’s legacy and commitment to preserve this piece of land and turn it into a place of abundance and regeneration. I love spending time in nature and cultivating a relationship with food and Iowa’s ecosystems. It has become a source of healing for me to work with my hands each day, solve problems, and live with the rhythm of the seasons.

What is the Purpose of This Loan?

This loan will help us acquire pesticide-free manure from local farms, truckloads of wood chips, and worm casting production to build our compost; closing the loop of farm inputs. This is also a key step to brew our compost teas, which increases our soil’s beneficial bacterial and fungal ecosystem. We will also start to build a small farm stay accommodation to rent out, as well as host farm guests and workers. We have been acquiring recycled materials for the last two years and have construction plans developed.

This loan will impact our business by giving us the tools and infrastructure to be profitable this year so we can keep reinvesting in this project. The farm tools will make the operation more time-efficient, keep the weeds manageable, and allow us to grow more food and take more to market. Having our bulk compost will increase soil health and food growth. We will be able to start hosting people on the land and sharing our practices and space with our community.