C O M M U N I T Y P A R T N E R: Y O U T H F A R M
Executive Director Gunnar Liden and Associate Director Amanda Stoelb:
AB: What is the impact of working with Alma and Brasa on Youth Farm?
GL: It’s amazing having leaders in the restaurant industry be a part of not just the “volunteering/ feel good” aspect of things, but really being involved in our mission in supporting young people and food for change in the world. That’s what we’re trying to do, and it’s what Alma and Brasa are trying to do, in the different ways, but to the same end. Alma and Brasa have been instrumental in supporting that work, but also in helping us do the things that we’re not good at - not in a weird way, but because it’s not what we do. I get that lean-in aspect from Ash, where she says: “yes, we know how to do this, and we know how to do this well, and we care about what you’re doing, and we want to help you make you make an impact.” She always leads with “How can we help?”, which is not always the response you get.
AS: That’s a very unique question when someone approaches us and wants to partner. Very rarely do we get asked what we need. A lot of people come in with how they want to help, and I feel like the Brasa/Alma partnership - and also the additional restaurant partners their partnership has brought in - is really authentic. We really get heard when we say what we need, and when we come back with ideas, the response from Ash is, ninety-nine percent of the time: “Yeah, let’s see if we can figure it out.”
GL: We have other great partners in other places, but I feel totally respected from Alma and Brasa and the staff, from people who are at every level of the organization, and I appreciate that. A lot.
AS: I appreciate that Alma/Brasa walks their talk in terms of supporting local food in a way that’s also really unique. It’s easy to talk. And you can walk that talk within your restaurant space, but it’s an entirely other level to actually go out into the community and take it to the next level, finding people who are doing work that you’re not doing, to help create this really holistic system. The on-the-ground impact, really practically, is huge. We’re able to raise money in a way that fits with us. We’re a small non-profit. Pulling off an event like this [the Youth Farm Dinner] is not easy.
GL: This event is going to raise close to forty thousand dollars for us, and then we have the other money that Brasa/Alma raises for us. We never ear mark that money ahead of time - but that’s almost a full time staff person’s salary! That pays for our high school interns throughout the school year.
AS: The money is important, but there’s also another factor - we’re an organization that really values transparency. It’s amazing to not only have partners that will raise money, but who will actually come out here and do farm work! Everyone on our staff knows Ash. That’s a big deal at Youth Farm. Because we have that culture of ownership, our staff feels like they own every piece of our work, so if they didn’t know Ash - it would be weird! Our staff knows that they can call her with questions. So there’s that very tangible forty-to-fifty thousand dollars a year impact, and then there’s these softer things that are really important, and really valued.