Bree & Madelyn~ Alabama

Bree Estes, 16, has been a Katie’s Krops Grower since her father heard about the organization, and Bree applied, at nine years old, to become a Katie’s Krops Grower. Then a fourth-grader at Alabama Christian Academy (ACA) in Montgomery, Alabama, she, her parents, and her younger sister, Madelyn, now 15, started a Katie’s Krops garden at the school with advice from their local extension office. That garden is growing today with support from students from all grades tending it and using the outdoor classrooms that have been added.

Soon after starting the garden, the family moved to Birmingham. To satisfy their desire to help their community while being outside and active, they created a new garden at Bree’s new school, Brock’s Gap (then for 5th and sixth graders and now for grades 3 through 5).  Both girls still tend the garden with assistance from the students led by teacher Terri Davis through the informal Katie’s Krops club she has established. The club members help with weeding, watering, and other tasks. This garden also includes outdoor classrooms as well as a pavilion.

The family, including parents Robert and Melinda, also have other gardens. In addition to two beds at the University of Alabama Birmingham’s downtown community garden, where they grow a small portion of their vegetables, they have a large garden at home. As southern gardeners with a growing season that extends from March to November and an initial harvest in April, they grow peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, melons, peas, kale, and pumpkins. One pumpkin vine even decided to use a tree as a climbing pole; nothing like picking pumpkins 5 to 6 feet off the ground! The gardens are flourishing despite sweltering summers, problems with bugs, and initially bad soil that was improved by adding compost to break it down into good growing dirt. As a result, the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama receives its bounty. In contrast, the Montgomery Area Food Bank receives food from the ACA garden.