Austin Recap: Changemaker Chat with Stephanie Scherzer

Stephanie Scherzer joined us for our second-ever Changemaker Chat, hosted by Brew & Brew’s Companion Room. The conversation covered the fundamentals of bootstrapping your way to success, entrepreneurial challenges as a woman, and creating a culture of empowerment for every person contributing to and touching your company. We looked at these topics in the areas of Stephanie’s expertise – solving the problems of food waste, food distribution, and food cost in Texas.

Here are some of the highlights:

Don’t hesitate. Bootstrap. And follow your heart.  
While “follow your heart” often gets turned into cheesy posters for office décor, it’s been a guiding light for Stephanie in both her personal and professional life. She has followed her heart in the majority of her big life decisions, including buying four acres in East Austin in 1993 (which would later become Rain Lily Farm) and in starting Farmhouse Delivery. This sense of bootstrapping embodies an attitude of getting things done with zero hesitation that many in the audience admired.

Community is key to a life well lived.
As soon as Stephanie and her partner, Kim, secured the land in East Austin they began to think about how they could use it to serve the community. They used it to grow their own business teams, but also to connect with local farmers, restaurateurs, and like-minded women (who even started a Saturday pickling group to combat food waste).

We won’t get better without education. 
One of the biggest obstacles that Farmhouse Delivery faces is lack of education about food distribution and waste in Austin and throughout Texas. Stephanie works each day to cultivate a deeper understanding in the community of where food comes from, and empower locals to become a part of the process. She believes in the benefits of small-scale urban farming and that if each family just grew a single edible plant in their backyard that we could all contribute.

Stephanie also touched on the difficulties women face in fundraising. As the only woman at the table, she’s been able to reflect on her past experiences and approaches and share her insight. Namely, she isn’t afraid to ask anymore.

On legacies: it’s the people she’s grown, not the things she built. 
Stephanie regularly looks at her kids in awe watching them turning into real, thoughtful people. Her legacy also circles around selecting the best local and small batch products to feature, so that customers can confidently know that all of the produce and meat are produced using the highest standards. If she can get folks to buy into this sentiment, she can replicate this business model all over the country.