Will & Sherilyn Ortman
William, Sherilyn, Liam, Solomon & Christian Ortman live on Will’s home place, along with his parents and brother & sister-in-law. Farming is truly a family affair.
Will & Sherilyn met in college and were married in 1998. Having grown up on farms more than 400 miles apart, they soon discovered they had also both run strawberry u-picks and sweet corn patches in their youth.
A favorite story is from a college choir tour before they even started dating. When Sherilyn asked Will what he saw himself doing in ten years, he responded that he would like to be married and doing something that allowed him to work beside his wife "from sunup to sundown." Guess it worked out!
Innovation seems to be in the Ortman genes. Will's grandfather was the first in this area to plant soybeans. Father Arlan also experimented with different crops and animals, and was ahead of his time in harnessing wind energy, as the iconic farm "tower" testifies. As for us, we've dabbled through the years in hydroponics, an indoor winter garden program, and a peach orchard, to name a few. Each one of these ventures, and our eventual pursuit of organic certification, has been about improving food quality and accessibility and has had two common themes: maximizing the potential for local consumers, and creating opportunities for future generations to stay on the farm.
Our boys attend Freeman Academy and each enjoys a different aspect of the farm. Christian, the youngest, is the gardener and the "fruit man." Solomon gravitates toward tractor work, especially when he has a chance to drive! Liam is the oldest and is always ready to catch chickens if need be.
Our life outside the farm is often focused around the arts. Sherilyn is a private piano instructor and frequent accompanist. Will is a composer. All five of us enjoy acting, traveling, board games and spending time with family and friends.
I grew up on a farm outside of Goessel, KS. With hard work and determination in my genes, an Ortman was a perfect fit. I met Lindsey Ortman, daughter of Stan and Gwen, while attending Bethel College just 15 miles from where I grew up.
In August of 2013, I married Lindsey and the following January we moved to South Dakota where Lindsey grew up. Lindsey and I live just two miles from the home farm where I work with her family.
As mentioned, hard work and the rural, farm life are all in my genes. Both of my grandpa’s were farmers and known for the relentless hard work, and my parents carried on the tradition and passed it on to their son. I enjoy the chance to work outside on my feet using my hands to provide food for others and a living for my family.
I tend to spend the majority of my time working with the cattle, and I love to care for and raise healthy animals. I am committed to making sure my cows are healthy and happy and well cared for. Raising grass-fed, non-GMO, natural beef is rewarding work, even though it is not always the easiest or most popular way to go. Why is it rewarding? While I feel I am providing a necessary product to the surrounding community and filling a need, I am motivated most by my commitment to caring for God’s creation to the best of my ability, and I feel I am doing my part in sustainably raising beef on a diet that reflects natural tendencies as much as possible and managing the land in a way that is mindful of both the present and the future.
Outside of farming, I love athletics and music. Basketball is a passion of mine; I continue to play whenever I can and more importantly I am the head coach of the Freeman Academy-Marion Bearcats high school boys basketball team. I also enjoy football, baseball, soccer, and ultimate Frisbee. I also enjoy more obscure games such as badminton and spike ball, though my playing opportunities for them are not as many as I would like.
Music is an equal love of mine. I have played piano since the 1st grade and am a fan of the music of Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Brahms, Grieg, and Debussy to name a few. I also enjoy singing in church choirs and singing and acting in community theater. Throughout my day, you can often find music playing in the background.
I have a lovely wife Lindsey who works as a social worker at Freeman Regional Health Services in Freeman. It is her incredible eye for photography that has provided this website with so many beautiful snapshots of farm life. Besides photography, Lindsey also loves music and athletics. She helps coach volleyball and girls basketball for the FA-Marion high school teams and enjoys playing volleyball. Music is a shared interest for Lindsey as well, as she plays piano and guitar and enjoys singing.
We love the rural lifestyle, made more enjoyable by beautiful views of the valley, crisp mornings, and the fun and companionship of our three cats Pope, Brahms, and Nella along with the ever sweet and energetic Titan, our German shepherd.
MEET THE REST OF THE FAMILY
STANLEY & gWEN oRTMAN
Stan and Gwen Ortman are living in the house that Stan grew up in. They raised their children in this same house, with the exception of the 3 years they lived in Tanzania, Africa, where Stan worked with water develop for clean drinking water, and Gwen homeschooled their children. Now Stan’s mission is working with his brother, Will Ortman, and his son-in-law, Austin Unruh, to produce food products that are nutritious and free of chemicals. Gwen’s mission is teaching high school English and theater at a local private, Christian school. Their oldest, a son, Caley, is attending seminary in Indiana. Lindsey is married to Austin and is a social worker at the local hospital and nursing home. Kelsey, the youngest, is administrator at the local museum and a tutor at the school where her mother teaches. Stan and Gwen see many benefits of living on the same yard with his parents, and also Will’s family—sharing ideas and work.
Bio and pic
aRLaN & eLLEN oRTMAN
Bio and pic