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This Is Iowa: Woman with Down syndrome turns green thumb into thriving business

By Eric Hanson

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    PLEASANTVILLE, Iowa (KCCI) — When Marissa Schletzbaum was in high school, her parents noticed she had a green thumb. She loved getting her fingers dirty and spreading smiles.

So Marissa’s parents, Roger and Maureen Schletzbaum, decided to invest in a dream. They opened Marissa’s Straw Hat Farms in Pleasantville.

KCCI first met Marissa in 2015. Now, with eight more years of spring experience, Marissa’s responsibilities have grown.

Her greenhouse now supplies farmers markets and restaurants with vegetables from her new hoop building.

In the last decade, Marissa has also been recognized for her talent outside the greenhouse. In 2018, She was named Big 12 Special Olympics Athlete of the Year.

“Eighty-five thousand people in the Texas Stadium are giving her a standing ovation. You just soak it in. But in the greenhouse, it’s that way every day. And that’s what makes it worthwhile,” Roger Schletzbaum said.

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