Mary Cove and Allison Culbreth. Credit: Blue Thumb Farms

Celebrating women in agriculture & #ChooseToChallenge

March 8, 2021

Editor’s note: Nathalia Delima is a marketing associate and John Angerami is a sales operations manager for Artemis, a cultivation management platform that enables growers to manage crops, people, and compliance to create a risk-free environment. Here they write about some of the female growers in their network to celebrate International Women’s Day.

Make sure you and your colleagues are added to the growing list of women innovators in agrifood by filling out this short survey here. And join us on Clubhouse later today (5pm ET, 2pm PST) to hear from 50+ amazing women innovating in our food system. Find out more here.


Today is International Women’s Day with this year’s theme #ChooseToChallenge. Here, we wanted to celebrate some of the incredible women whom we are honored to work with and who choose to challenge the agricultural industry, because “a challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change.”

After becoming self-taught experts on the subject of hydroponic farming, Mary Cove and Allison Culbreth started Blue Thumb Farms from scratch. They designed their facility from floor to ceiling, keeping in mind how to minimize the environmental impact of their farm. Now, Blue Thumb Farms is a thriving operation that provides healthy, delicious salad mixes and herbs to dozens of locations in central North Carolina.

Growing fresh accessible leafy greens, Cheryl Arnold is a co-founder of Miami’s premier Hydroponic Box Farm: Boxed Greens. Cheryl is setting out to disrupt our food system and founded Box Greens with a mission to grow and harvest farm fresh greens and distribute them locally throughout the city of Miami.

Co-founder and CEO, Shannon O’Malley started Brick Street Farms in 2015 to change the production and distribution of food systems. By utilizing cutting-edge indoor hydroponic practices and zero chemicals, pesticides or fertilizers, their mission is to grow the most nutritious produce at the heart of consumption.

Katey Leesneski, PhD is the current Director of Restoration Science at Coral Vita. Coral Vita was founded by environmental entrepreneurs driven to solve one of the planet’s greatest challenges; saving the reefs that they love. Coral Vita works to restore the world’s dying and damaged reefs.

Jo-Ann Ostermann is an experienced executive with a demonstrated history of working in the vertical farming industry. Currently, the chief customer officer at CubicFarm Systems Corp., providing farmers everywhere with a commercial-scale vertical farming system to grow leafy greens, fine herbs, and microgreens – near the final customer and year-round.

Denise Hannay is the CEO of Eco Canadian Organic Inc., a family-owned organic cannabis producer. Their mission is to provide Canadian communities, First Nations, Veterans and First responders with safe access to the highest quality, lab-tested organically grown medical cannabis.

IronOx is dedicated to addressing some of the most significant issues in food security, now and in the future.  Lola Siboldi has joined Nicole Bergelin as Head Growers, and Patricia Romero, PhD Plant Pathology, joined the team in 2020 as a Senior Grower. Lucianne (Keenan) Kempton was also promoted in 2020 from Facility Operations Manager to Head of Facility Operations.

Suzette Overgaag and her husband, Leo a third-generation grower, started their family farm in Coachella Valley thirty years ago with a barely-there budget and borrowed farming equipment. Today, North Shore Greenhouses, Inc. has over 10 acres of greenhouse space where they hydroponically grow living herbs that are available for consumers in the produce section of the grocery store.

Alida Burke started The Growcer as a way to address food insecurity and food sovereignty in Canada. The Growcer’s flagship product, the 4th-Generation Arctic Growing System (AGS-IV), is a modular hydroponic system designed specifically for harsh climates that enables year-round commercial production of vegetables within shipping containers.

RedHat Co-op is the premier supplier of fresh, high-quality produce to Western Canada, focusing on locally grown products. Throughout 2020, under General Manager, now Chief Operating Officer, Gillian Digman, Redhat was able to meet the increased demand for fresh vegetable orders while meeting strict calls for increased health and safety.

Chloe Veurink has joined her family as a grower and General Manager for Ruben’s Veggies. Founded in 1996 Ruben’s is passionate about providing the freshest product at a rate that everyone can afford. They are also environmentally conscience growers, using a bio-control program, using good bugs to fight the bad bugs, and keeping their veggies natural. Chloe will soon be joining us for an Artemis Live Talk – Subscribe Now to stay in the know!

Kite Child, founded by Pollyanna Salas-Uruena and Jacqueline Herrera with Martha Maina as the Project Manager, is a non-profit organization working to empower at-risk children in Kenya through partnerships with children’s centers. They develop and fund community-based sustainable and income-generating initiatives to transform the quality of care, educational opportunities and foundational support that at-risk children receive as well as elevating their surrounding communities.

Nona Yehia and Caroline Croft Estay founded Vertical Harvest, an impact-driven business that builds and runs cost-effective and profitable hydroponic farms that do well by doing good. Their goal is to provide inclusive employment for underserved populations in vertical farms. These employees grow local food for local communities in locally-based vertical greenhouses located in urban environments.

Born and raised in Uruguay, shaped in Israel, and cured in California, Andrea K. Krell now finds herself back in Uruguay helping develop a new medical cannabis industry. Together with her husband and business partner, she founded YVY, a medical cannabis company with a purpose. She is passionate about creating sustainable and scalable agricultural practices and making sure patients around the world have access to natural, science-backed, and chemical-free medicine.

This is only a small list of the women who challenge the industry and continue to inspire us. We are lucky to work with such amazing growers and businesswomen and salute all the women working to make our agricultural system stronger. We are excited to announce that this spring, Artemis will be launching Artemis Grower Awards to honor more inspirational folks in the industry!

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