Aspen ~ Indiana

Aspen Anglemyer, nine, might be a new Katie’s Krops Grower, but he is certainly not inexperienced. Aspen started in the garden as a toddler, working with his grandfather. Grandpa still helps him grow vegetables and flowers by tending the garden when Aspen’s family is out of town. Aspen and his mom and dad, Valerie and Kelly, grow cucumbers, radishes, peas, green beans, carrots, and flowers in three raised garden beds, along with tomatoes in individual buckets. Even the family dog, Ruby, gets in the act by eating the weeds as they are picked and tossed in a corner.

Currently a third grader at Wakarusa Elementary School in Goshen, Indiana, Aspen first heard about Katie’s Krops from his mom, a middle school teacher. She read about the organization in an e-mail from Youth Service America (YSA) that featured the group’s work being done to help alleviate hunger through the growing efforts of children.

Not every crop has been a success. Aspen managed not to grow zucchini, which, as most vegetable gardeners know, is quite a feat. The blame for this can be laid squarely at the feet – or should we say roots – of the Cosmos flower plants. They love their raised bed spot so much that they are now over 5 feet tall and prolific enough that they blocked both the sun and water from reaching the zucchini plants. Making lemonade out of lemons, he and his mom cut the flowers and make bouquets for the other teachers at her middle school to brighten their days. Who doesn’t like to see some pretty flowers at their door when they get to work? To avoid this same thing happening next year, the family already has plans to add a fourth raised bed to give the zucchini a fighting chance. Fortunately, there have been very few other problems or pests other than some Japanese beetles.

Aspen has fun working in the gardens from May until the first frost in October or early November, and he also enjoys helping people save money. Besides providing food for his own family, he puts out produce for his neighbors to take and enjoy. He has given baskets of cucumbers and tomatoes to the Family Christian Development Center. This foodbank serves the families living in his school’s neighborhood. They are now working on harvesting radishes and green beans for the food bank.

Aspen also enjoys the light-hearted moments in the garden, such as the carrots that grew a little too close together and managed to wrap themselves around each other and the bees on the flowers that were so still that both he and his mother thought they might be dead. Of course, they weren’t a slight shake of the flowers, and they buzzed right off. Katie’s Krops looks forward to Aspen buzzing into his garden for many years to come to help feed his community.