At the heart of all vibrant communities are mothers who have overcome adversity to raise children that have bright futures. Krista Linden is ensuring that young mothers in the Puget Sound can raise strong families through programs that teach women skills that help them realize their potential.
Krista is the Founder and Executive Director of Farm 12, a full-service restaurant and event center located in the heart of the Puyallup Valley. But Farm 12 is more than just a restaurant with an incredible locally sourced menu—the newly opened eatery is empowering low income mothers by providing them with job opportunities.
We spoke to Krista about how Farm 12 has transformed a legacy farm into a renewed place that will strengthen families in the community for generations to come.
Step By Step: Empowering Low-Income Mothers
As the mother of seven daughters, Krista knows first-hand the powerful role that mothers play in raising children who grow up to contribute to vibrant communities. After considering how she would want to be helped if she were in the same situation as a low-income mother, Krista founded Step By Step in 1997.
Step By Step is a nonprofit organization that serves low income mothers in Pierce, King, Kitsap, and Snohomish County. The organization employs registered nurses, counselors, and dietitians who help mothers understand how to best care for their child during pregnancy and throughout the first year of their baby’s life. Step By Step also provides mothers with baby items, Maternity Support Services, and Infant Case Management. Throughout the year, the organization fosters community support among mothers through community baby showers, summer barbecues, free yard sales, and family Christmas celebrations.
After operating for nearly 20 years, Step by Step was presented with the opportunity to expand their mission and grow strong families in a new way.
Infusing a Farm with New Life
For over 90 years, the Van Lierop family ran a tulip and daffodil field that filled the Puyallup Valley with acres of blooming flowers. Neil Van Lierop, a fifth-generation farmer and the last farmer in the Van Lierop family, made the difficult decision to put the farm up for sale. The decision to sell the farm created a great deal of uncertainty as the potential for the land to be converted into an industrial site loomed.
But Krista had a different vision for the land. Krista had grown up on a family farm in Colorado and was drawn to the idea of repurposing the farm while preserving the history of the land. In 2015, Step By Step purchased the property from the Van Lierop family, creating an opportunity to transform the farm for generations to come.
Once Step By Step purchased the farm, they repurposed each of the four buildings on the property to serve the community differently.
One building was converted into the headquarters for Step By Step so that the organization could better serve mothers. Mr. Van Lierop still lives in his house on the property. One building became the home of Bee Kings Raw Honey, a company founded by Chris Miller that makes raw, hand-poured honey accessible to the community. The third building is the Loveland Greenhouse which preserves the legacy of the Van Lierop Bulb Farm and the Edgewood Flower Farm by growing flower baskets that can be purchased for your home or your business. And finally, the largest building on the property became Farm 12 Restaurant and Events to support mothers in gaining job experience.
Founding Farm 12
In November 2019, Farm 12 officially opened its doors after securing through fundraising, grants and loans $11 million over seven years. While Krista had initially envisioned Farm 12 becoming a small cafe, the restaurant offers three meals a day seven days a week with one hundred percent of the proceeds going to support Step By Step programs.
Farm 12 currently employs some Step By Step moms who work as servers, hosts and baristas in the restaurant. The forward-facing roles help empower the women to gain job skills. The Step By Step team wants to continue providing women with new opportunities to develop skills that will help them recognize their long-term goals.
The team recently applied for a three-year grant to help them further support mothers experiencing barriers to work, including transportation and childcare. Krista hopes to soon convert one of the buildings to a childcare facility that will help to prepare children for kindergarten while enabling mothers to gain work experience along the way.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced unforeseen challenges for the new business, Krista is thankful that the business has been well-embraced and supported by the community during this challenging time.
"An all female gym that provides an excellent space to exercise and connect with others. The different locations are beautiful and rejuvenating. The coaches are encouraging and uplifting. It's a great community to be a part of!"
"Does a great job providing shelter for families in need."
"Huge heart! They do great things for our community in need!"
"Korum Automotive Group has been a successful car dealership in Puyallup for more than half a century. They also are very generous donors to many Puyallup non-profits in the community."
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