DiSanti Farms is a prominent farm on the St. Charles Mesa east of Pueblo, and one of more than 34,000 farms in Colorado. Sara (DiSanti) Genova grew up on that family farm and she’s part of a growing female farmer population.
There are 2.1 million farms in the United States, with 14.1 percent of those being run by females. Women comprise 30 percent of all farmers when up to three operators per farm are included, as with DiSanti Farms, where Genova shares duties with her three brothers and her mother, RoseAnn. Her father, Jim, passed away three months ago.
Genova was one of five Colorado farmers who were on the panel for an Aug. 16 Colorado Proud luncheon event entitled “The Faces and Stories of Colorado’s Agriculture” at The Pinery at the Hill in Colorado Springs. Three of the five panelists were women.
“My personal perspective is that women have been in the industry for a long time. We’re just finally getting attention for it,” Genova said.
She doesn’t spend the day in the fields like her brothers, but is just as important.
“I could get on a tractor like my brothers but feel like I do my best for our business by being in the office and helping sell our products,” she said. “I’m our chief sales consultant.”
There are 34,200 farms and ranches in Colorado, encompassing more than 32 million acres; 56 percent of those raise livestock and poultry, 44 percent are crops and 81 percent are privately owned. They provide more than 173,000 jobs and contribute $40 billion to the state’s economy annually.
Genova said that DiSanti Farms grows “24 varieties of vegetables and 20 varieties of chiles” and also runs cattle. “The livestock helps out when crops are down and vice-versa,” she said.
She is a fifth-generation farmer, with the tradition dating back to 1890 just outside Pueblo.
“I had a choice of whether to go into farming,” she said. “I was born with a green thumb so it was an easy choice.”
She’s proud of the family business and all the other farms on the Mesa.
“There are roadside stands everywhere in our area,” she said, “so we meet our customers and create relationships with them.”
Still, most of the business for DiSanti Farms is with grocery stores in Colorado.
“We’re one of the bigger farms in our area and we focus on our chain stores while a lot of other farms focus on their roadside stands, which is great for them,” she said. “There are a lot of farms in our area and we all have our niche. We try not to step on each other’s toes.”
DiSanti Farms sells largely to Walmart, King Soopers and Safeway stores in Colorado.
“We go through the corporate office,” she said. “King Soopers and Safeway are really big on local. Buying locally really matters; it’s kept us in business for five generations.”
DiSanti Farms is a leading member of the Pueblo Chile Growers Association. Sara is on the board and her younger brother Dominic is the former president.
Sara said a new chile was hatched by the family this year.
“It’s called Dynamite,” she said. “It’s hotter, and it’s thicker than most of the hot ones.”
She also invested in molded pumpkins. She bought 600 “Frankenstein” molds, which will give the pumpkin even more of a Halloween look.
“It’s a mold shaped in a design,” she said. “You put the mold on when the pumpkin is about softball size and let it grow into full size. We can re-use each one for four, five years. We grow a lot of pumpkins. It’s one of our major crops and we send them to Walmart, King Soopers and Safeway.
“There are a lot of other pumpkin growers in our area, and we actually have a lot of farmers that grow for us because we just can’t grow enough. We pay them a certain amount and then sell to Walmart and the other stores,” she said.