The “Help Feed the Hungry” campaign delivered by Yavapai County Food Bank and Mortimer Farms is back. It was so successful last August that the two entities agreed to expand the philanthropic effort to two days, Aug. 27-28, this year.
The fundraiser will center on the second annual Sweet Corn Harvest Party at the intersection of Hwy 69 and State Route 169 in Dewey, the home of Mortimer Farms.
Thousands of people from throughout the region are expected for the harvest weekend, which features all things corn.
Admittance fee is $3, plus at least two non-perishable food items per person. Kids 3 and under are free. So is parking. Monetary donations for the food bank are also welcomed.
“We were overwhelmed by the generosity and the positive public response we had to the one-day fund-raiser last year, so we were thrilled when Gary and Sharla Mortimer suggested we expand it to two days this year,” said Ann Wilson, executive director of the Yavapai County Food Bank.
It did not hurt that Martha Stewart Living magazine mentioned Mortimer Farms in its July-August feature, “Best Things to See, Eat and Experience from Coast to Coast.” Circulation for the publication is estimated at more than two million.
“We think that having Mortimer Farms and its activities mentioned in a national magazine will appeal to people who otherwise would never have heard of Yavapai County and the Quad Cities,” Wilson said.
Last August, case after case of food was contributed. “We had lots of monetary donations, too,” she said. “We made sure that everything was dedicated to helping feed the hundreds of needy families who visit the food bank.”
Something Corny for the Entire Family
From the minute people enter until they exit, they will be surrounded by corn motif and corn attractions. “Folks who want to can take a hay ride into the corn field and pick their own ears of corn to bring back for roasting. They can enter several corny competitions, too – corn eating, corn shucking, corn-tossing – and they can win prizes,” said Cecelia Jernagan of Mortimer Farms.
“We’ve some special attractions for kids, too. There’s the Farm Animal Kingdom, the pony rides, the straw maze, a farm slide, a corn bath and a colorful tractor-drawn barrel train,” she said. “For older kids and adults, we’ve got roping dummies, various competitions, tractor displays and a bunch of vendors. Of course, there’s plenty to eat at the Farm Store.”
Photo opportunities where families can capture memories of visiting an old-fashioned farm are unlimited, Jernagan says, plus a special harvest meal with everything made from scratch.
Giving Back to the Community
The cooperation between Yavapai Food Bank and Mortimer Farms reflects a philosophy.
Though they own the 350-acre farm, the Mortimers for years have sponsored events and activities that benefit those in need. For instance, last October the Mortimers dedicated a 15-acre corn maze to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Through the years, they have shared their bounty with schools and other charitable organizations.
The same is true of the food bank. In operation since 1992, it is a non-government funded 501 (c) 3 charitable organization. Along with food, it provides clothing, shoes and more to qualified applicants throughout the county.
“For the past several months, especially since the economy dropped, we’ve been trying to help the hungry, especially families, with basic food needs,” Wilson said. “Most people don’t know it, but a lot of people are in need. Any given week, we provide help for 600 or more families. We’ve had days when we’ll see as many as 200 people who need food.”
The five paid staff members and 60 or more volunteers keep busy. “We are the biggest philanthropic food distributor in Yavapai County. We give tons – literally, tons – of food to low-income families. That’s why we’re proud to partner with Mortimer Farms on the upcoming Harvest Party,” Wilson said.
The food bank is located at 8866 E. Long Mesa Drive in Prescott Valley. Business hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday; extended to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Food distribution hours are 3-5 p.m., Tuesdays and Wednesdays; and 1-3 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays.
By Ray Newton, QCBN
Photo by Ray Newton