Mei-Yu~ Oregon

Someone stole the cabbage! Seriously, someone stole the giant cabbage, some smaller cabbages, and bok choy. That was what happened to Mei Yu Leung the first year that she started growing food in a community garden plot in Salem, Oregon, after becoming a Katie’s Krops Grower.

Fortunately, Mei Yu persevered. After all, she was the child who decided four years ago, when she was eight years old, to support her community by organizing two food drives at school. She followed that up by joining a community garden with her family, where they donated some of the produce they raised even before they read about Katie’s Krops online.

Those efforts, for now, 12-year-old Mei-Yu and her helping family, include growing more cabbage and bok choy as well as tomatoes, peas, strawberries, and even some carrots, although the latter has not been as successful as hoped. The majority of her crops are donated to Table of Plenty, a food pantry associated with the Marion Polk Food Share program. Additionally, she also makes direct donations to people in need. Mei Yu enjoys gardening for its own sake, saying it makes her happy; helping others is a bonus to her.

One of the community garden benefits is that the produce from some trees and garden plots is available for all gardeners to take as needed. By doing this, Mei Yu could have additional produce to share, including cucumbers, zucchini, cherries, grapes, blueberries, and apples.

Every gardener runs into problems, such as the slug infestation among the cabbages and bok choy one year. Unfortunately, Mei Yu ran into another crisis in 2020 that most never experience – wildfires. The fires that raged in much of Oregon made it virtually impossible to grow or pick anything starting in September because there was too much smoke to stay, let alone work, outside for more than a few minutes. This shortened harvest time by six to eight weeks.

As plans are made for 2021, it would appear that the days of cabbage theft are over. Mei Yu and her family, including her 4-year-old sister Lucida currently in training as a garden helper, now live in a house with a yard, complete with a fig tree. Again, this year’s gardens, supported by Katie’s Krops, will be an experiment on whether more is grown in the raised beds they are building or in a planned in-ground garden plot. In addition to growing the same items as they did at the community garden, mom Jackie is planning to add some hot peppers to the front garden beds. The family wants to try growing taro once they find enough information on how to do so. New beds might require more than the 10-15 hours that Mei-Yu spends setting up the garden each spring, but she won’t be traveling to the community garden to do so. She’ll also be able to keep a closer eye on the garden and get those slugs before too much damage is done.

Kaine~ Texas

We are thrilled to share that Kaine Gonzales has earned the title of “Katie’s Krops Volunteer of the Year” for 2020 for his dedication to the Katie’s Krops mission. Kaine has worked in more of the organization’s gardens in Summerville, South Carolina, than any other volunteer. Additionally, he has helped to prepare hundreds of Katie’s Krops garden-to-table meals. Kaine’s enthusiasm and desire to learn are truly contagious.

During his two and a half years of volunteering, Kaine found he enjoys gardening, seeing things grow, and being out in nature. He also finds that helping others is rewarding and he appreciates being able to do so through a well-organized group with friendly people. There was both a lot of work involved and fun times, including the vast, sweet potato harvest with one as big as a kid’s head.

Kaine is not the only one in his family who volunteers with Katie’s Krops, Sister Anaya, seven, and brother Manny, five, also helped with tasks such as picking ripe produce and planting seeds. At the same time, his parents provided that all necessary support and transportation. When his parents were not available to give rides to the garden workdays, Kaine was not detoured. He reached out to neighbors to find the lift he needed to help Katie’s Krops grow,

Kaine and his family moved to San Antonio, Texas, in the summer of 2020 due to a new duty posting for his Air Force father. To say that we, as an organization, were heartbroken to see Kaine move is an understatement. We are thrilled to share that Katie is now starting a Katie’s Krops garden in his new home state!

It’s an ambitious effort for a 14-year-old. Still, Kaine will have help, first from his father and neighbor, who will help him build raised garden beds. The entire family will help with planting, weeding, and nurturing the garden until the produce is ready to be harvested.  Kaine will share his harvest with a church pantry. Long-distance support and garden advice will come from his maternal grandparents, who farm ten acres in Louisiana. The family sometimes travels to help with planting items such as potatoes, which is a good task for kids who like to dig and play in the dirt.

“Kaine’s enthusiasm for gardening and helping others is second to none. He arrived at every volunteer opportunity with a smile on his face and eager to take on any task. I love how executing the job at hand was never enough for Kaine. He wanted to learn what to do and why. Educating himself was always at the forefront of his efforts. I am so excited that he is taking what he learned in our South Carolina gardens and starting a Katie’s Krops garden in his new home of Texas,” Katie’s Krops President Stacy Stagliano shared.

Kaine has earned this well-deserved honor, including the trophy and $500 scholarship that accompanies it.

Join us for our April 1st Katie’s Krops To-Go Dinner

On Thursday, April 1st we will host a Katie’s Krops To-Go Dinner. The meal will be distributed drive-thru style. On the menu this week, an Italian dinner. We will also share vegetable seedlings with our guests who would like to start their own vegetable gardens.

We will start serving at 4:30 pm and will finish at 6 pm, or when all meals are distributed, whichever comes first. The dinner will be held at Summerville Baptist Church located at 417 Central Avenue, Summerville. The meals are always free.

Sign Up Today for Our Upcoming Outdoor Classroom Programs

We are thrilled to begin to offer programs in our outdoor classroom. Below you will find a list of upcoming classes and a description including age guidelines for each class. All of our programs require advance signups. Every program will have a limited number of spaces available. Our programs are not drop-off programs, and we require a parent or guardian to stay in the garden area during class time. We ask for programs that involve elementary-age students, adults to step away from the classroom to allow children to work independently with the instructor and fellow students. This does not apply to storytime.

As we are in an outdoor setting, all classes are weather-dependent. We are a working garden that includes bugs, sticks and stone, and all of a garden’s wonders. Closed-toes shoes are required at all times.

Storytime in the Garden with Katie- Monday, April 5th 10:00 am to 10:45 am. 

Join Katie for two stories and explore what is growing in the garden. A parent or guardian must stay in the garden during storytime. Closed-toed shoes are required, and masks are optional. Thank you, Main Street Reads, for sponsoring this program.

https://www.signupgenius.com/go/409054DA5AE29A6FE3-storytime1

Safety Talk with Summerville Police Officer – Friday, April 9th 10:15 am

Summerville Police Officer James will teach a safety class for kids ages 4-8! This class will go over important safety measures, talk about what a police officer does and answer any questions the kids may have. We ask that parents stay in the garden during the class, but let the children sit by themselves in the outdoor classroom. The class is open to 8 kids!

https://www.signupgenius.com/go/409054DA5AE29A6FE3-safety

Weather Talk with ABC News 4 Meteorologist Dave Williams- Wednesday, April 14th, 10:00 am to 11:00

This program is open to 3rd to 6th graders. Explore weather with Meteorologist Dave Williams. Learn more from an expert. This class is limited to eight. Masks are optional. A parent or guardian must stay in the garden during the weather talk. This program is free of charge.

https://www.signupgenius.com/go/409054da5ae29a6fe3-weather

Children’s Yoga in the Garden- Saturday, April 17th 10 am to 11 am

Join Three Keys Yoga instructor in the garden for children’s yoga. This class is open to elementary-age children. Participants must bring a yoga mat or towel. This class is open to nine participants. A parent or guardian must stay in the garden during yoga. This program is free of charge thanks to our friends at Three Keys Yoga.

https://www.signupgenius.com/go/409054DA5AE29A6FE3-yoga

Storytime in the Garden with Katie- Monday, April 19h 10:00 am to 10:45 am. 

Join Katie for two stories and explore what is growing in the garden. A parent or guardian must stay in the garden during storytime. Closed-toed shoes are required, and masks are optional. Thank you Main Street Reads for sponsoring the program.

https://www.signupgenius.com/go/409054DA5AE29A6FE3-storytime2

Arts & Craft in the Garden- Tuesday, April 27th 10 am to 11 am

Create a beautiful gourd birdhouse from gourds we grew in our garden. This class is open to children 5 and up. There is a $4 charge which includes all supplies. Funds will be collected at the start of the class. A parent or guardian must stay in the garden during arts and crafts. 

https://www.signupgenius.com/go/409054DA5AE29A6FE3-arts

Our outdoor classroom is located in our flagship garden on the campus of Crossroads Community Church at 505 Gahagan Road in Summerville, South Carolina. The garden is at the rear of the church.

Our Outdoor Classroom is Officially Open!

Today we officially opened our outdoor classroom and hosted our very first storytime in the garden. This is truly a dream come true! We are thrilled to begin to offer educational programming to families throughout the Lowcountry in a natural outdoor setting.

Tomorrow our website will include a list of all programs available and a link to sign up. Upcoming classes will include yoga in the garden, arts and crafts, weather talk with Dave Williams ABC News4, storytime, and gardening classes exclusively for our new Katie’s Krops Growers. We will continue to add programs monthly. All participants must register in advance, and space will be limited. To provide an enjoyable experience for all attendees each class will be open to children in a specific age range. We are actively seeking a sponsor for our classroom to expand programs and be able to keep all classes free of charge.

The DuBose Middle School Katie’s Krops Garden Makeover!

We are thrilled to share we are one step closer to creating a new beautiful expansive Katie’s Krops garden at DuBose Middle School! Our wonderful team of volunteers braved the cold to remove the old decaying beds, remove the weed-filled soil, and created a fresh, clean landscape for us to construct the new garden yesterday. Next Saturday, we will start building the new garden beds and laying the groundwork for the students at DuBose to feed their neighbors in need.

How can you help?

1.) Do you have an impact drill and the skills to help us build a few raised beds? Come join us on Saturday morning! Sign up here- https://www.signupgenius.com/go/409054DA5AE29A6FE3-dubose2

2.) Make a donation to help us build out the garden beds, line them with weed block, fill the beds with nutrient-rich garden soil, and lay irrigation. Every dollar helps! https://katieskrops.networkforgood.com/…/125226-help…

3.) Spread the word and help us gain the support we need for these students and teachers.

Thank you to everyone who has supported our efforts! The students and faculty are so excited about their garden transformation!

IMPORTANT – Katie’s Krops March 18th Dinner

Due to the severe weather predicted in our area today we will start serving dinner early today. We anticipate being able to serve by 3:00 pm, or early. Please visit our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/Katies-Krops-208021205915459, for updates. Stay safe everyone.

Katie’s Krops Bringing Educational Programming to the Lowcountry with New Outdoor Classroom

We are excited to announce the addition of an outdoor classroom to our flagship garden, bringing, hands-on educational programming to the Lowcountry in a safe and socially distant manner. The new outdoor classroom is located at the Katie’s Krops flagship garden on the campus of Crossroads Community Church. It will open to the public on March 22, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and storytime with Katie’s Krops Founder, Katie, to follow. 

“This has been a longtime dream to be able to further empower children by teaching the fundamentals of gardening, sharing how to cook with the harvest, using the garden as inspiration for art classes, learning about the environment. With my college degree completed, I am thrilled to be returning to Katie’s Krops full-time and expand our offerings” share Katie Stagliano.

This is a new venture for us at Katie’s Krops. Classes will include science, art, and crafts, cooking, storytime in the garden, yoga, gardening basics, to name a few. In addition to classes, the classroom will allow for field trips to the garden.

Our Katie’s Krops Master Gardener Lisa is excited about the outdoor classroom and beginning to teach educational programming, “Being outside is always such a wonderful experience, and when you add the component of an outdoor classroom, I believe that the whole experience is enriched even further.  The availability of such a valuable resource is very exciting for me, especially as a Master Gardener, for one of my personal goals is to continuously find ways of working with children in an educational environment.”

A class schedule will be on after the official opening. Pre-registration is required, and classes will be capped to ensure social distancing. The majority of programs will be free of charge. We are actively seeking a sponsor for the classroom to expand offerings and keep programs free of charge for all families.

Our Soil³ Compost Fundraiser to Help You Grow

Ready to get growing this spring? Don’t miss our new Katie’s Krops fundraiser perfect for gardeners!

Our Soil³ Compost Fundraiser offers you $20 savings on each cubic yard BigYellowBag of compost that you purchase. And while you get quality compost for your garden – you also support Katies Krops because we get $15 for every bag that you buy! The bag will be delivered directly to YOU!

Soil³ compost comes in a BigYellowBag that means no mess! The bag is tied shut, so if you don’t use the compost all at once, you can keep the rain out. This makes it easy to have quality compost handy anytime you are planting something new or filling a container. Plus, it is more cost-effective than buying lots of small bags of compost, and you don’t have to tote all those bags yourself. Delivery is simple and complies with social distancing.

The regular price for a cubic yard BigYellowBag of Soil³ humus compost is $199.99. With our discount code KatiesKrops1 you will save $20 and pay $179.99 plus tax. Delivery is included! Please make sure you only order online at Soil3.com with our code KatiesKrops1This special code is valid from March 16-30 and is available in South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, and sections of Tennessee. Click here to order https://shop.soil3.com/discount/KatiesKrops1

And a shameless plug, if anyone would like to donate a bag for our garden we would be extremely grateful!!! Thank you for helping us grow!

Rose ~ North Carolina

Katie’s Krops Growers begin with the organization for various reasons. In 15-year-old Rose Stoehr’s case, it has become a family tradition. Older siblings Jackie and John preceded her, and while both have moved on to college, the garden they helped tend for years at Hawk Ridge Elementary, a public school in Charlotte, North Carolina, is still growing. Mom Carrie is a teacher at the school as well as the garden coordinator, and Rose started participating in 1st grade; eight years later, she has moved on to high school but is still an active Katie’s Krops Grower and the youth lead responsible for the Hawk Ridge Garden.

The first Stoehr sibling to join Katie’s Krops was Jackie. She and some 4th-grade classmates at Hawk Ridge wrote the grant application, and she continued working in the garden for many years until she left for college. John then spearheaded the garden for a year until he left for college as well, leaving Rose to take charge. Both Jackie and John say they learned a lot about gardening, whether they were lugging bags of dirt, planting seeds, watering, weeding, picking produce, and performing all the tasks involved in maintaining a healthy garden. Both also learned a lot about their community, its needs, and that the fresh produce is very much appreciated at the food bank since most of the food they have is canned.

With her siblings off at school, Rose is now the lead Katie’s Krops Grower. From starting seeds in the wooden raised beds in March to the final harvest in November, the garden produces tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and various greens. These crops are donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank, whose recipients are thankful for and enjoy the 400 to 500 pounds of fresh produce grown annually. This bounty is produced in 9 raise garden beds totaling 336 feet; herbs grown in pots are also donated. Growing the food provides students with an opportunity to volunteer while working outside in the dirt, weeding, and planting. Rose enjoys that and feels good that these donations help others.

Volunteer gardeners are recruited from the student population each year. Carrie recently made a video to recruit volunteers this growing season and now has six students per day helping in the garden. Limiting the number of students is needed to ensure that they are socially distanced while they work. It’s a fun learning experience for those who participate each spring and fall; as with most school-based gardens, students do not participate when school is not in session, but Rose and her mom keep the garden going during the summer.

The Charlotte area has a relatively long growing season. The heat of summer definitely results in a bumper crop of bugs, too, which must be dealt with along with some damage to the garden in the form of trash and uprooted crops that is done by a few kids. Fortunately, those issues are not too frequent or harmful. The gardeners do have a source of water for their crops, making watering in the Charlotte heat a lot easier. Rose estimates that she personally spends 5 to 7 hours a week while the garden is being established in the spring and then 2 to 3 hours each week during the summer and fall growing and harvesting seasons.

Rose is the last in the line of the Stoehr siblings, but even when she graduates high school and heads off to college in a few years, she hopes to continue helping in the garden during the summer and to do her best to remain a part of the garden and work to engage future students in learning about gardening and continuing the work of Katie’s Krops.