By Hilary Dartt

Although many people think of farming as a male-dominated industry, women play a significant role in growing our food and, therefore, nourishing our families and

In fact, a 2017 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed women farmers out-earned their male counterparts. An article on the United States Department of Agriculture website states that women make up 30 percent of farm operators in this country. And here in town, they’re making huge contributions, not just in terms of offering local produce, but also, economically.

We spoke with three Prescott-area farmers who are helping residents reconnect to their food.

Sharla Mortimer

Owner, Mortimer Farms

How did you get started in farming, and what is your farming life like now?

My husband and I grew up on farms in different parts of the country. When we met and married, we decided we wanted to be involved in agriculture. We found property eight years later, and little by little we have built a sustainable business.

This is our tenth year at Mortimer Farms in Dewey. We farm 150 acres. We raise cows, pigs, goats, chickens, and turkeys, and grow the gamut of garden vegetables: sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, squash, lettuce, chard, potatoes, and garlic, and tons of strawberries and blackberries!

What’s your favorite thing about farming?

The daily success you feel in growing food. There’s nothing quite like ending the day, going home, and eating dinner with your family, knowing you’ve been able to grow everything on your table. Also, during our festivals, when the kids are so excited to be at the farm, it’s so rewarding.

What is the significance of local farms?

Education is one of my main focuses. I want people to have the experience and exposure to agriculture to better understand how important it is to grow our own food in America. A sustainable food source is a major part of our national security.

We offer harvesting, or “you pick” so people can see how plants grow, pick their own produce, then take it home, cook it, and eat it.

Plus, the closer to the farm you can get your food, the more flavorful it is.

What’s the most challenging thing about farming?

Juggling daily duties and responsibilities. Our task list never seems to get smaller. We prioritize and delegate to our great staff to keep up!

Other Important Details

Mortimer Farms, at 12907 E. State Route 169 in Dewey, has a variety of offerings, including Mortimer Farms Park, which features unique equipment for kids to play on; the Country Store where fresh vegetables are available seasonally; and other seasonal events.

Visit for event calendars and more information, or call 928.830.1116. Fresh produce is also available seasonally at Mortimer Nursery. at 3166 Willow Creek Road in Prescott (call ahead for availability: 928.776.8000). 

Shanti Rade

Owner, Whipstone Farm

How did you get started in farming, and what is your farming life like now?

A high school farming internship sparked the passion. Eventually I earned a sustainable agriculture degree from Prescott College.

Shortly thereafter, I got a job with the Prescott Farmers Market. That is where I met my husband. He was already farming. We joined forces and grew our farm and business from there.

Now, we have close to 20 acres in production and many different sales outlets. We employ around 12 seasonal employees.

Whats your favorite thing about farming?

The first time I ever ate food from seeds I planted myself, it felt magical and life-changing. It was an idealistic notion, that you could have a hand in creating your own sustenance. I still find inspiration in that. Now, my satisfaction has a lot more to do with being my own boss, creating a life and livelihood around my passion, supporting not just my family but also our employees. We have a positive impact on the environment and are doing something that aligns with our values. I also feel empowered by being a woman in a field that is seen by society as more of a man’s occupation.

What is the significance of local farms?

Rediscovering what it means to eat with the seasons and appreciating food at its peak of ripeness. There are benefits in a direct relationship with the person doing the work to grow your food. Finally, there are economic implications. When you buy something from a local business, it circulates within the community.

Whats the most challenging thing about farming?

Wearing all the hats! I got into farming because I liked working with plants. I didn’t start out with the skills to be a small business owner. Luckily my husband and I can share these many tasks.

Also, farming has special challenges in that everything is dependent on Mother Nature. Managing risk becomes a huge factor in farming successfully.

Other Important Details

Whipstone Farm sells its products at the Prescott Farmers Market year-round. Learn more at 

Kathleen Yetman

Executive Director, Prescott Farmers Market

How did you become involved with the Prescott Farmers Market?

I was born and raised in Prescott. I worked for three years on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, through FoodCorps (an AmeriCorps program that connects kids to food through gardening, nutrition education, and cooking). During that time, Prescott Farmers Market hosted a FoodCorps service member so I was in close contact. When the director resigned in 2014, I applied for the job and moved back home.

My grandmother was an amazing gardener and my parents also had a huge garden so I grew up with that foundation and connection to food.

I want to help change the food system—get people to connect back to where food comes from and how it’s prepared and ensure everyone has access to good, affordable food.

What’s your favorite thing about farming?

While I don’t have a farm, my passion is fruit trees, and I have 26: pear, apple, peach, cherry, apricot, and plum. My dream is to have an orchard and support others in growing and caring for trees.

What is the significance of local farms?

Knowing the people who grow your food. You can’t ask questions at grocery store, like how something grows, whether pesticides were used, how to cook it. The local economy piece is huge, too. Last year, our 50-plus vendors combined made over $1 million in sales. People are learning how important it is to support local businesses and farmers. They’re starting to make those connections, and that’s exciting. 

What is the benefit of having big cooperative like PFM?

In this day and age, it’s important to be in public spaces interacting with people who might have different views, or look or sound different. That’s what builds strong, resilient communities. The PFM is that. 

Other Important Details

Summer Hours: 7:30 a.m. to noon at Yavapai College’s Prescott campus, in Parking Lot D.

The Prescott Farmers Market accepts SNAP benefits, and offers the Double Up Food Bucks program, which allows PFM to match benefits up to $20 (provided in tokens for additional fruits and vegetables).

Learn more at or follow the market at