Ari- The 2023 Katie’s Krops Grower of the Year!

We are thrilled to announce that Ari is the 203 Katie’s Krops Grower of the Year!

A lot has changed since we first profiled Ari Denson in October 2022. She’s now a year older, in the 4th grade, and sadly, one of her garden mentors, her great-grandmother, died in mid-2023.

Other wonderful things, such as the help she gets from her grandfather, have stayed the same. The gardens are still in his backyard but have expanded from one 20 square foot plot and some pots to 116 square feet when Grandpa replaced his deck and used the old wood to build three more 8×4 foot raised beds; even more, are planned for 2024. The garden output also changed from about 50 to over 225 pounds, including spring and summer crops of strawberries, edamame, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, red and green bell peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, and potatoes. The total will likely go up because she’s still growing in 2023 and currently has collards, kale, cabbage, and mustard greens to give to members of her community, especially those who are retired, to improve their diets. The total might have been higher if not for the plant-eating pests and if the heat, accompanied by a lack of rain while they were on vacation, hadn’t harmed some of the plants.

Ari is also encouraging others to garden. As a junior Girl Scout, she and some of her troop are working on a group project to earn their Bronze Award. They plan to have a separate garden plot at her grandparents’ home (that 6 acres they own are coming in handy!), and she works in the church garden started by the youth choir.

She still enjoys working in her gardens alongside Grandpa with help from her parents, grandma, and occasionally various cousins while learning about different beneficial and harmful bugs, experiencing the joy of giving, and just plain old having fun. We at Katie’s Krops are hopeful that she will continue growing for a long, long time.

Oh, one other thing that has stayed the same. Brother Jeffrey may be a year older, but he still hates the bugs.

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For Ariane “Ari” Denson, an 8-year-old third grader at Belvedere Elementary School in North Augusta, South Carolina, it all began with a squash seed. As part of a Sunday school lesson on the mustard seed in 2021, she and her classmates were given squash seeds to take home and grow. Katie’s Krops was mentioned during the lesson, and voila, a new gardener was born.

Ari applied to become a Katie’s Krops Grower, and she grew her first garden this year in her maternal grandparents’ backyard 15 minutes away in Aiken. Her first tutor in growing was grandma, but grandpa just couldn’t sit by and stepped in to help Ari grow over 50 pounds of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash, pineapple, and herbs such as thyme, parsley, and sage this year. That total will likely go up since they have now started a fall garden with cabbage and collard greens. This productive haul was grown in just 20 square feet of raised bed gardens and some pots.

She has learned much from her grandparents, who have taught her how to grow plants from seeds and start composting for next year. Her great-grandmother is now 94 and bedridden but has also provided garden tips based on her experience, such as you should cut produce when picking it, not pulling it. In return, great grandma was rewarded with the first item harvested, a cucumber.

Ari has learned a lot this year, including that tomatoes don’t always thrive in the heat of a South Carolina summer, as well as which bugs are good and which are harmful. Another lesson learned, at this point, her 5-year-old brother, Jeffrey, will not be a good assistant in growing because he’s afraid of bugs. They make him cry before he runs away.

Ari really enjoys spending time with grandpa and getting closer to him as they help each other in the garden and with plans for next years, such as growing more in the sun rather than in partial shade. With 10 acres of land available, they should be able to find a suitable spot so they can grow even more. Together they distribute the food grown to the retired friends of the family so they can have healthier diets. She’s also found out that home-grown food tastes fresher and better than that bought at the store. We hope she continues to grow with Katie’s Krops for many years to come and that maybe Jeffrey can get over his bug phobia so he can help.  

November Katie’s Krops Dinners

We will host two dinners in November on:

Thursday, November 3rd

Thursday, November 10th

Our dinners are held at Summerville Baptist Church, 417 Central Avenue in Summerville, South Carolina. Our to-go dinner service starts at 4:30 pm, earlier if possible, and ends at 6 pm or when all meals have been distributed, whichever comes first. All members of the family do not need to be in attendance to receive meals.

On November 3rd, we will serve beef and vegetable chili over a bed of macaroni, a tossed green salad, cornbread, and homemade desserts.

If you reside in Summerville and do not have transportation or are unable to attend for medical reasons, please email Delivery@KatiesKrops.com, and we will make every effort to deliver meals to you. Please include your full name, address, phone number, and the number of meals you need. All requests must be directed to this email address (we cannot honor requests sent via social media and social media messages). We do not deliver outside of Summerville. It is important to note we cannot accommodate day-of requests. You must request delivery at least two days before each dinner. Our dinners run on volunteer power and a great deal of planning. Thank you for submitting your requests early.

Austin & Toni ~ Ohio

They may be young, but the brother and sister duo of Austin and Toni Carr, ages 8 and 10
respectively, are learning how to grow vegetables. Students at Amanda Clearcreek Elementary school
in rural Ohio, they began their garden two years ago after their parents heard about Katie’s Krops on
the P. Allen Smith gardening show on PBS. The siblings have grown 185 pounds of tomatoes, lettuce, zucchini, green beans, and cucumbers in their 16 by 16 foot in-ground garden. The carrots they attempted did not produce, but the flowers they grow thrive,
aiding in pollination while providing beauty.

After their Dad tills the garden in the spring, Toni and Austin are responsible for planting, weeding, and
harvesting. They have had some adversity, especially this year when a wet spring was followed by a sweltering and dry summer, both of which hurt the garden. They also have to
contend with pests, such as birds and rabbits, who are more than willing to eat the produce, which is
one reason the carrots don’t do well.

The two chickens left from the original flock of 10 (blame the coyotes and stray cats) provide
droppings for composting the garden, eggs for the family, and lessons on how to care for chickens to
Toni and Austin.

Both enjoy working in the garden. Austin likes chasing mom with the worms, although he moves
the toads from the garden rather than running with them. Toni enjoys bonding with her family and says
gardening is a fun hobby where she gets to be active. Mom Ashley is happy to have a summer activity
that gets the kids outside and off their tablets. The entire family is glad they can provide fresh
produce to their neighbors and the food pantries in Amanda and nearby Stoutsville. Their goal is
to eventually raise enough so that they can put a farm stand outside their home where everyone in their small community can stop by and take what they need for free.

While no one outside the family helps with the garden, Toni has talked to her friends about what they
do and shares vegetables with them. She is hoping they will get their own Katie’s Krops gardens so they can also help the community while they learn about gardening.

Celebrating 12 Years of Katie’s Krops Dinners ~ Join us on Thursday, October 20th

On October 20th, we will celebrate the 12th anniversary of the Katie’s Krops Dinner. To say I am proud of this milestone is an understatement. I was just 12 years old when I started our Katie’s Krops Dinner; at now 24, I have spent half my life working to serve healthy free garden-to-table meals to my neighbors.

What else makes this anniversary extra special? This October, we will celebrate a decade-long partnership with Summerville Baptist! Ten years ago, our friends at Summerville Baptist took a chance to allow children to prepare and serve healthy meals while allowing anyone in need in the community to dine with us in their Fellowship Hall. We are so grateful and blessed that they believed in our mission and opened their doors to us. I treasure our relationship. Working together, we have been able to help thousands and thousands of our neighbors often during their most changing times.

We are now serving more people than ever before. To everyone who has volunteered, donated, cheered us on, shared a meal with us, and shared our efforts over the past 12 years, thank you! I am where I am today because of you.

Join us on Thursday, October 20th, at 4:30 pm for our anniversary dinner. We anticipate a large crowd, so we recommend arriving early. Please follow the direction of our traffic volunteer for everyone’s safety and to allow the line to move quickly. The dinner is always free.

Join Us on October 6th for the Katie’s Krops Dinner

Join us for our next Katie’s Krops To-Go Dinner on Thursday, October 6th. Our dinner service will start at 4:30 pm at Summerville Baptist Church, 417 Central Avenue, Summerville, South Carolina. We will continue to serve to-go meals drive-up style. We kindly ask that you follow the guidance of our parking lot volunteers to keep traffic flowing and maintain safety for guests and volunteers.

The dinner is always free. Our goal is to ensure that our neighbors have access to the healthy meals they need. We will serve between 550 and 600 meals per dinner.

If you reside in Summerville and do not have transportation, please contact Delivery@KatiesKrops.com, and we will make every effort to deliver meals to you. Please include your full name, address, phone number, and the number of meals you need. Requests must be placed two days in advance of the dinner.

September 29th Katie’s Krops & Potential Weather Impact

We will host a Katie’s Krops Dinner on Thursday. We are keeping a close watch on the impact of Hurricane Ian and the timing of the effects on the Lowcountry. At the moment, we will move forward with the dinner and deliveries as planned. Our top priority is the safety of our volunteers, delivery drivers, and guests. We will keep you posted on any changes we need to make due to heavy rains.

If you reside in Summerville and do not have transportation or are unable to attend for medical reasons, please email Delivery@KatiesKrops.com, and we will make every effort to deliver meals to you. Please include your full name, address, phone number, and the number of meals you need. All requests must be directed to this email address (we cannot honor requests sent via social media and messages). It is important to note we cannot accommodate day-of requests. You must request delivery at least two days before each dinner. Our dinners run on volunteer power and a great deal of planning. Thank you for submitting your requests early.

Helen~ Georgia

Helen Rhymer, 17, of Brooks, Georgia, is learning that as far as gardening goes, “it’s different here.” Her older brother, Jared, was the first Katie’s Krops grower in the family when he started his garden at the family’s home in Colorado eight years ago. He donated his produce to a local food pantry in Monument. Helen helped him and then took over when he aged out. This was also just in time for the family’s move to the land of red clay and a different climate.

The 2021 garden was not “that big,” but it still produced 100 pounds of vegetables, primarily tomatoes, and green beans. She has a much bigger garden in 2022, and it shows. Seeds were started in February, and as of Labor Day weekend, she’s produced about 220 pounds of a large variety of vegetables, including zucchini, squash, tomatoes, green beans, honeydew, and silver wave melons and cucumbers. It’s important to note that this is “so far” in the year because, as a southern gardener in zone 8a, she is able to have spring, summer, and fall gardens. This year’s fall garden crops are peas, radishes, beets, onions, and lettuce, and planting them has now started.

Helen has a couple of big helpers in growing her garden. One is her brother Colin who loves gardening as much as she does. Another is the compost produced by the family’s ducks and goats, which they raise on their 10-acre hobby farm and provide eggs and milk to the family. They need that compost to augment the soil in the eight one-foot tall raised garden beds and the additional beds comprising dirt dumped over weed block.

Moving to a new area can be difficult, and Helen misses the mountains and snow. She’s found she no longer has to battle the squirrels that plagued the Colorado garden but have had to confront squash bugs for the first time. However, she started working at a garden center over a year ago and can ask for advice. She now picks her squash when they are smaller.

Helen loves being outside when she is not home-schooled by her mother or attending her in-person class at the local community college on her path to earning an associate’s degree in biology. Gardening provides her that outdoor time and the bonus of helping her local community when she donates her produce to the Southwest Georgia Food Bank.

September Katie’s Krops Dinners

We will host two Katie’s Krops Dinners in September on:

Thursday, September 8th

Thursday, September 29th

Our dinners are held at Summerville Baptist Church, 417 Central Avenue in Summerville, South Carolina. We serve to-go meals drive-thru style. We kindly ask that you follow the guidance of our parking lot volunteers to keep traffic flowing and maintain safety for guests and volunteers. There is never a charge for our meals.

Dinner service starts at 4:30 pm and ends at 6 pm or when all meals have been distributed, whichever comes first. There has been a rise in the number of people attending our dinners, so we recommend arriving early. We will prepare and share 600+ meals.

If you reside in Summerville and do not have transportation or are unable to attend for medical reasons, please get in touch with Delivery@KatiesKrops.com, and we will make every effort to deliver meals to you. Please include your full name, address, phone number, and the number of meals you need. It is important to note we cannot accommodate day-of requests. You must request delivery at least two days before each dinner. Our dinners run on volunteer power and a great deal of planning. Thank you for submitting your requests early.

Fall Gardening Classes – Registration is now open

UPDATE~ All sections of our Fall Gardening Classes are currently full. If you would like to be placed on a waitlist, please email Stacy@KatiesKrops.com.

We are excited to offer fall gardening classes in our flagship garden for adults and children! Learn how to grow healthy fresh vegetables at your home. We will provide the instruction and supplies needed to get started. These classes are open to families new to Katie’s Krops who have not previously taken a gardening class with us. This class will be provided free of charge due to generous community support. Spaces are limited, and you must register to attend. The Summerville location and details will be shared when you register for a class.

These introductory classes will focus on how to start your vegetable garden planning for the fall. We will cover how to decide where to grow your garden, layout your garden, different materials you can use for your garden build, choose the right vegetables for fall/winter planting, and take care of your garden. This class will be a fundamental overview.

Adult Classes~

Class #1 ~ Wednesday, September 7th – 6 pm

To sign up, please follow this link- https://www.signupgenius.com/go/409054DA5AE29A6FE3-fall1

Class #2 ~ Thursday, September 15th – 6 pm

To sign up, please follow this link- https://www.signupgenius.com/go/409054DA5AE29A6FE3-november4

Kid Class~

Class #3 ~ September 13th – 10:00 am to 11:30 am

To sign up, please follow this link- https://www.signupgenius.com/go/409054DA5AE29A6FE3-starting

  • While we love our gardening friends of all ages, attendance for this class is limited to registered children (K-5th grade) and a caregiver (attendance required).

Please note: Our classroom area is 100% outdoors and weather-dependent classes. Therefore, we ask that everyone bring water and wear closed-toe shoes (i.e., sneakers/tennis shoes) for their safety. 

August Katie’s Krops Dinners

We will host two Katie’s Krops Dinners in August on:

Thursday, August 11th

Thursday, August 25th

Our dinners are held at Summerville Baptist Church, 417 Central Avenue in Summerville, South Carolina. We serve to-go meals drive-thru style. We kindly ask that you follow the guidance of our parking lot volunteers to keep traffic flowing and maintain safety for guests and volunteers. There is never a charge for our meals.

Dinner service starts at 4:30 pm and ends at 6 pm or when all meals have been distributed, whichever comes first. There has been a rise in the number of people attending our dinners, so we recommend arriving early. We will prepare and share 600+ meals.

If you reside in Summerville and do not have transportation or are unable to attend for medical reasons, please contact Delivery@KatiesKrops.com, and we will make every effort to deliver meals to you. Please include your full name, address, phone number, and the number of meals you need.