A 6-year-old child is helping lead the charge to end hunger, as the Ridgeville-based Lily Hartline was recently recognized as Katie’s Krops’ Volunteer of the Year.
The youngest Katie’s Krops’ volunteer to ever receive the honor began contributing her services at the tender age of three alongside her mother, Erin Hartline, by delivering meals and more, according to the organization’s Chief Executive Gardner and Founder Katie Stagliano.
Located in Summerville, Katie’s Krops is a is a youth-based non-profit focused on cultivating and maintaining vegetable gardens in the interest of donating produce and inspiring others to follow the group’s lead.
Lily has subscribed to that mission of growing and giving back through her efforts of establishing a garden in her family’s backyard and donating what’s harvested.
Lily and her mom, it was noted, have distinguished themselves for supporting Katie’s Krops’ free garden-to-family dinners, which are provided to local individuals and families coping with hunger and various degrees of food insecurity and/or scarcity.
“Lily has always gone above and beyond with her kindness, generosity and dedication to helping her community,” reported Stagliano. She went on to recall how Lily arrived at a garden workday with every penny she had saved in her piggy bank to assist struggling families. “There was not a dry eye to be found.”
The altruistic youngster was also commended for spearheading a campaign to save monarch butterflies in the charitable organization’s flagship garden.
“Lily has the biggest heart and the sweetest spirit. I met Lily several years ago when she was 4-years-old and came to our garden to help with our MLK Day Service Project. Her mom shared that she was so excited to come after reading “Katie’s Cabbage,” that she got up at 3 a.m. and couldn’t go back to sleep,” related Stagliano.
In addition to the child’s hard work and diligence in supporting the needy, Lily was further cited for her contagious enthusiasm, which spreads smiles wherever she goes, per Stagliano, and has made the precocious little girl a friend to everyone she has met or worked with.
“She truly is proof that age is just a number. No matter how young or old you are, you can make a tremendous impact on the world,” added Stagliano.
Young sister from Aiken helping feed their community
AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) – A pair of young sisters are gaining national recognition for growing fruits and vegetables to help feed their community.
We went to find out how their partnerships with organizations like Golden Harvest and other food banks are helping change lives.
For 7-year-old Eva and 12-year-old Norah Drumming, right in their backyard, fresh crops are growing in every corner.
They have cucumbers, melons, broccoli, potatoes, and more. It looks so good; even they can’t help themselves.
“I kind of like to eat it,” said Eva.
But there’s a reason they’re growing so many healthy foods.
Nora said: “It’s just to help out elderly people and people in need in the community.”
They’re part of Katie’s Krops, a youth-based nonprofit dedicated to ending hunger and helping the less fortunate. They were named National Grower of the Year and are the only first-year growers who have ever received this honor.
Selma Sullivan is their grandmother. She said, “I think it’s very important because it really teaches them to give and love others, and it’s teaching them how to live off the land.”
On Sundays, they’re at church handing out the produce. Even their neighbors get a surprise.
“We just love to see the smiles on their faces,” said Sullivan.
The Drumming sisters are helping to solve a bigger issue; food insecurity. Golden Harvest Food Bank says they’ve given out almost 3 million meals in Aiken County.
It’s all hands-on deck to help everyone in need.
Eva said: “I think it’s generous and kind.”
For generations, this family has done this, and they don’t plan to stop anytime soon.
Sullivan said: “We loved it, and we’re just keeping it going.”
Ethan Pappas – West Carrollton garden growing, giving back to community.
WEST CARROLLTON, Ohio (WDTN) — A garden behind West Carrollton High School is helping students grow while also giving back to the community.
West Carrollton Computer Lab Coordinator Judi Brooks is the green thumb behind the Pirate Patch Garden, guiding its growth.
“I’m here pretty much every day doing something–if it’s just spraying for a squash bug or looking at what’s going on,” says Judi. “I’m always outside.”
Stemming from an idea to connect with nature, the first seeds were planted roughly seven years ago outside of the high school. Judi and another teacher started the garden to show students where their food comes from.
“I had an interest in gardening and foraging,” says 10th grader Ethan Pappas. “I saw Judi working in the garden one day, just walking by, and I wanted to help do that.”
The Pirate Patch Garden started with a small “L” shape, first producing tomatoes. It’s since grown every year, now producing more than 1,000 pounds of food.
“We have pumpkins. We have kale, onions, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes of course,” lists Judi.
Roughly 20 students help with maintaining the garden.
“I started to pick some of the carrots, and I fell in love with it, and it was so fun,” says 7th grader Connie Pappas, who volunteers in the garden. “On some days I’m ready to get dirty, and I don’t even go out with gloves.”
Grant money from the nonprofit Katie’s Krops helps keep the garden growing.
When crops are ripe, they’re harvested, weighed, and then donated. This year, the fresh food is going to West Carrollton’s food pantry.
“This is how we’re supposed to live our lives to give back to others. I’m a very service-oriented person, and I like sharing my knowledge, but I’m a very earthy person,” states Judi. “My mom was a farm girl. I lived in West Carrollton my entire life. My grandmother was very much a plant person. But it’s just who I am. I mean I just feel so comfortable and so relaxed and I want the students to be able to experience too.”
The produce is taken to West Carrollton’s food pantry on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Your dream to grow a healthy end to hunger began when you were nine years old. Most people at this age aren’t even fully aware about what ‘End Hunger’ is. What moment prompted you to realize how big of a problem global hunger is?
Katie: When I was nine years old, I wasn’t aware of just how many people hunger affected. When I brought my cabbage to Tri County Family Ministries in May of 2008, I saw first hand how many people were struggling with hunger and food insecurity. Seeing people from all walks of life and all ages in line for what might be their only meal of the day was a real eye opener for me. After seeing how my one cabbage helped to feed 275 people, I knew I needed to do more. If one cabbage could feed 275 people, imagine how many people an entire garden would help feed! The more time I spent donating my produce to those in need in the community, the more I learned that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Just because someone looks or acts a certain way, does not mean they are not struggling to put food on the table. People find themselves struggling with hunger and food insecurity for many different reasons and you never know what someone is going through until you take a walk in their shoes. For the past 13 years, I have been blessed to be able to meet some of the most amazing people who are going through times, and I feel so grateful to be able to do what I can to help them.
Do you think we can end world hunger by 2030?
Katie: I am a firm believer that working together, we can make a big difference in the fight against hunger! Hunger is a multifaceted issue and I do not believe just one approach can help to end it, however, as we work to face the root of the problem and come at it from every angle I believe we will make a tremendous impact. Working for the past 13 years to provide youth with a sustainable way to provide healthy, fresh produce to those in need in their communities, I’ve seen first hand the passion they have for helping others and their drive and determination. I am so excited for the future and to see the amazing ways we continue to fight to ensure nobody goes to bed hungry.
SUMMERVILLE — This year, a town nonprofit welcomed its first community garden outdoor classroom. To keep it free, the organization is looking for a sponsor.
“It’s something that’s been a dream of ours for a very long time,” said Katie Stagliano, the founder of Katie’s Krops, an organization dedicated to building community gardens to support food giveaways.
At its flagship garden at Crossroads Community Church on Gahagan Road in Summerville, Katie’s Krops is giving people the opportunity to sign up for classes like gardening basics, yoga, art and safety.
Currently, all of the classes are free as a way to make sure everyone who is interested has access, organizers said. To fund needed classroom supplies, the nonprofit needs additional donations.
According to Stagliano, the people at Crossroads Community Church are what inspired them to do the current outdoor classroom. Another source of inspiration was the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the past year, she said, children have been dealing with extended periods doing online schoolwork. And while schools in Dorchester District 2 have made a full return to in-person classes, a lot of parents have chosen to keep their children in the district’s virtual school program.
Organizers said they see the new outdoor classroom as a way for children to have fun learning while being able to practice social distancing.
Some of the classes include a safety talk from a Summerville police officer and a special story time with Stagliano.
“The availability of such a valuable resource is very exciting for me,” said Lisa Turocy, Katie’s Krops master gardener. “One of my personal goals is to continuously find ways of working with children in an educational environment.”
SUMMERVILLE — Not many people can say they were internationally recognized for their service, created a program that spans across the United States or are a published author.
Summerville native Katie Stagliano did all three by the time she was 21.
“Age is just a number,” she said. “You will be amazed at what you can accomplish.”
Stagliano is the founder of Katie’s Krops, a community garden organization with the goal of combating hunger by donating produce. She is also the organizer of Katie’s Krops’ Garden-To-Table Dinners, a program in which Stagliano and other volunteers serve fresh meals to local residents.
The organization started in 2008 with a garden in Stagliano’s backyard. It has since grown to more than 100 community gardens across the U.S. and over 38,000 pounds of donated produce. Its flagship garden is in Summerville at Crossroads Community Church.
The group also reached a milestone in September, serving more than 10,000 meals since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Nobody is making any money off of what we are doing,” said Ryan Herrmann, Katie’s Krops’ head chef for the past three years. “I love it.”
Stagliano has been recognized by Disney Channel, has had documentaries created about her and wrote a children’s book about the beginnings of Katie’s Krops titled “Katie’s Cabbage.”
Those closest to her say she is incredibly humble and doesn’t talk much about her accomplishments.
Stagliano said she’s just still surprised that all of this started with a single cabbage seedling.
Planting a seed
Thousands of residents have benefited from Katie Krop’s over the years. It all began when Stagliano was in the third grade at Pinewood Preparatory School.
She was asked to bring home and raise a cabbage seedling as part of the Bonnie Plants Third Grade Cabbage Program. She planted it, watered it and even put a cage around it with her grandfather to protect it from deer.
As the cabbage grew, Stagliano eventually got the idea to donate it. It came from her father, John Stagliano, always telling her and her brother how blessed they were to have a meal every night.
Stagliano was advised to take the cabbage to a soup kitchen in North Charleston called Tri-County Family Ministries. The cabbage had grown so big, she couldn’t pick it up herself.
“It was about the size of my 4-year-old brother,” she said.
The cabbage weighed in at 40 pounds at the soup kitchen. It would go on to feed 275 people, and Stagliano would go on to be inspired to expand her garden.
Stacy Stagliano said her daughter was always curious and interested child. She would always ask questions and wasn’t afraid to take the lead on things.
After donating her cabbage, the girl reached out to her school and told officials about her idea to start a community garden. The school ended up giving her a plot of land that was the size of a football field.
“There was really nothing that stopped her,” Stacy Stagliano said. “She just never saw the obstacles.”
At age 12, her daughter was donating produce to a soup kitchen called the Palmetto House through Katie’s Krops. One day they pulled up to the kitchen and saw a small crowd of people standing outside.
There was a handwritten sign on the front door of the kitchen detailing that it was permanently closed. Katie Stagliano took action immediately.
“She said we need to do something,” her mother said.
This led to the creation of Katie’s Krops Garden-To-Table Dinners. Every month at Summerville Baptist Church, a group of volunteers with Katie’s Krops serves a meal to Summerville residents.
The organization is youth-based, meaning young people are often the ones helping to cook the meals and work in the garden. They’ve implemented a seed program where thousands of seeds are shipped across the country to help other children start community gardens.
Camps have also been organized to teach children about community gardening. Herrmann, the head chef, said it’s crazy to think that Stagliano started doing all of this when she was 9.
“It’s inspiring,” he said. “She is something else.”
Filling a need
This year Stagliano was recognized by the National Geographic Society as a young explorer along with 21 other young people from six countries.
The recognition comes with funding and a connection to other community youth leaders across the world. Stagliano is hoping to use the opportunity as a way to expand Katie’s Krops to 500 gardens across all 50 states.
“I never ever imagined in my wildest dreams that any of this would’ve ever happened,” she said.
When the COVID-19 pandemic made its way to South Carolina in March, Stagliano said she knew their dinner program would become even more of a necessity.
So instead of one in-person dinner a month, the group created a weekly to-go dinner program. They also went from seeing 250 meals a month to around 400 in a week.
“People were scared and we knew that we needed to be there,” she said.
Residents can come by Summerville Baptist Church every Thursday around 5 p.m. to pick up a meal. The organization is also always open to volunteers.
Scott Johnson and his daughter, Marley, have been volunteering with Katie’s Krops since the beginning of the summer. He sees it as an opportunity to help fellow citizens and teach his daughter about helping people in need.
“I think it’s very good to see someone at such a young age doing so much, especially in the community,” he said.
Stagliano said the current flagship garden at Crossroads Community Church is a testament to how much she and others in the program have learned about gardening.
They have a compost program and a library where people can read in the garden. They’re also building an outdoor classroom. Stagliano said she wants the community to really use the garden and for it to be a place where everyone is welcome.
Now a College of Charleston student, she feels like everything up to this point, including the cabbage seedling, was meant to be. Stacy Stagliano said she’s incredibly proud of her daughter. She also gets emotional thinking about how the Summerville community allowed a child to lead.
“It’s been an amazing journey,” she said.
Photos: Katie’s Krops weekly food distribution reaches 10,000 meals
Katie’s Krops goes from small garden to serving hundreds of meals weekly.
Stagliano doesn’t get overwhelmed thinking about all that she has been able to accomplish at her age. She said she knows it wouldn’t have been possible without support from the community.
It can be easy for a young person to have a dream and get overwhelmed trying to complete, she said. That’s the reason it’s a youth-based organization.
She said wants to help and show kids they can make their dreams a reality.
‘Seeds of Change’ inspires new crop of young gardeners during coronavirus pandemic
When school went virtual in the spring due to the coronavirus pandemic, Angie Ackerman had to find a creative way to make the sudden change in her children’s routine more engaging.
She learned that a local non-profit called Katie’s Krops near her home in Summerville, S.C., had started distributing seeds to children who were stuck at home when school buildings closed to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Within days, the Ackermans received a letter in the mail along with seed packages for sunflowers, cantaloupes, tomatoes and peppers.
Her youngest Bennett, 6, in particular, took to the garden. He would venture outside with his Batman watering can in hand to track the growth of the single sunflower they planted. He measured the growth of the flower standing back to back with it, his mother described.
“That shift to virtual schooling was a big change. I really wanted to do something extra for my kids to help them through it,” she said.
Community garden non-profit grows
The Seeds of Change program is an offshoot of Katie’s Krops, a decade-old non-profit founded by Katie Stagliano when she was only 10 years old.
The young entrepreneur started the program as a community garden to provide fresh produce to local food banks. Using produce from the Summerville garden, the organization serves a free meal to up to 250 people a month.
When the pandemic hit, they changed course.
The newly implemented, drive-thru model has provided about 9,000 meals since March. They typically average 2,500 per year.”We’ve seen people come on foot, on bike from as far as 35 miles away for food. People are truly struggling right now,” Stagliano said.
In the last decade, the project has grown beyond South Carolina and provides financial support to growers in 31 states and around 100 gardens located in schools and run by youth organizations.
Planting gardens at home
Each garden was set up as a way to provide direct access to fresh produce for families in need within those communities. However, once schools and youth clubs closed due to COVID-19 protective measures, children could no longer gain access to the gardens, she said.
“We would have a single teacher manning a whole community garden,” Stagliano said. “Meanwhile, the need for fresh produce grew tenfold, especially among children who all of a sudden had limited access to the free meals they were typically provided at school.”
Katie’s Krops had amassed donated seed packages that could no longer be sent out to their wide network of traditional community gardens.
That was when Stagliano and her team began shipping seeds to families interested in starting their own backyard gardens as a way to help them feed themselves and their neighbors.
Since the start of the pandemic, they have shipped over 2,100 seed packets to more than 270 families across 23 states, including the Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia and Louisiana.
‘It was like pulling up treasures’
The shift has also created a wave of generosity.
“It’s engaged people from all walks of life to grow some of their own food and share it with their neighbors,” Stagliano said.
Aeden, 8, and his brother Maeson May, 10, have watched the garden they planted in their backyard grow since the spring. Maeson recently harvested a bundle of carrots he planted from seed.
“It was like pulling up treasures,” his mother Angela May said.
She wanted her sons to continue thriving and learning despite not being able to go to school in the traditional classroom setting.
The garden was an opportune learning tool.
“We had success. Especially with the kids home from school every day, they got to see the plants grow. I want them to continue feeling inspired,” May said.
The average grocery store cabbage weighs a couple of pounds. So when Katie Stagliano grew a 40-pound cabbage in her home garden as a 3rd grader, she knew she had to share the bountiful crop. 275 people fed later at a local soup kitchen, the now 21-year-old Summerville, South Carolina resident says she realized the power of her harvest.
“I brought home this cabbage seedling as part of a school project, and planted it in our backyard, watering and weeding around it every day. Once it grew into a 40-pound cabbage, we knew it was far too big for just my family. It really opened my eyes to hunger. If one cabbage can feed 275 people, imagine how many people an entire garden could feed. That was the inspiration for my volunteerism. I wanted to help feed people in need.”
Launching Katie’s Krops in 2008 with the idea that “it only takes a seedling”, Katie, who serves as founder and chief executive gardener, has inspired hundreds of other gardeners, growing to include vegetable gardens of all sizes in 30 states across the country. Katie’s Krops “Growers”, aged 9-16 from California to Washington to Texas, run gardens in their backyards, school yards, and anywhere they can get permission to grow produce, their healthy harvests donated to help food insecure individuals and families. In total, Katie says 250,000-pounds of produce have been donated since 2008, not just feeding hungry mouths, but also changing the future for thousands of people in the U.S., says Katie’s Krops Grower Ian McKenna, a 15-year-old volunteer from Austin, Texas.
“Katie’s Krops has helped many, many, many people. I’ve grown thousands of pounds of produce to donate to people who are struggling with food insecurity. The food I am bringing them helps in more ways than just feeding them. If a kid receives our food, it helps them with school because I know if I’m at school and I haven’t eaten for awhile, I have trouble focusing. That, by extension, is helping their future.”
“When I first began this service, I wasn’t really aware of the issue of hunger, food insecurity and how it affects families. People who have lost their jobs are dealing with medical bills and are worried about putting food on the table. (Katie’s Krops) has opened up my eyes to not only the problems the world is facing but also the amazing people who are passionate about making a difference and the changes we are able to make.”
Those changes are far reaching and yet personal for Katie, who is able to interact with recipients of her fresh vegetables.
“I met a little girl at an event we hosted at a vacation bible school. The little girl raised her hand and said she didn’t have any questions for me, she just wanted to tell me that I was awesome. She walked up to me with a sticker that said “love” on it, and she gave me a hug and put the sticker on my heart. After all the kids left the room one of the counselors explained to me that the vegetables I’d brought for the event to help feed a homeless family were given to that little girl’s family. The family had been struggling to put food on the table. It’s heartbreaking to see that families just like mine have fallen on hard times and I know the solution starts with just one seedling to start helping these people.”
And now, as she continues her work to end hunger, Katie is adjusting her organization’s offerings to make sure hungry families can still receive food amidst the coronavirus pandemic, swapping what used to be a monthly garden to table dinner for weekly drive-up dinners for her community.
“Since in-person dinners are no longer possible, we are now doing weekly drive-up dinners every Thursday. For the past two months, we’ve been creating the meals and boxing them up for distribution to families in South Carolina. There are so many individuals out of work and out of school and struggling, so we want to be there for them. We’ve been trying to do fun and different meals while also keeping everyone’s meals healthy to keep everyone’s immune systems up. We’ve served two-thousand meals thus far and we will continue doing this for as long as it’s necessary.”
SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCBD)- A local organization called “Katie’s Krops” has been feeding the Lowcountry for over a decade. With COVID-19 impacting the community, they’ve decided to increase their monthly meal distribution to a weekly basis.
Katie Stagliano’s story is known all over the world. In 2008, 9-year-old Stagliano planted a tiny seedling that grew into a cabbage. This cabbage happened to weigh 40 pounds and fed over 275 people at a local soup kitchen.
“So after I donated my cabbage and I saw how many people it fed, I decided that I wanted to start a garden,” says Stagliano.
Her green thumb soon developed into a passion. She started donating her fresh fruits and veggies to the soup kitchen.
“Our local soup kitchen in our area had to shut their doors due to funding,” she says. “I was really worried about all the people who had been relying on the soup kitchen for food.”
She soon came up with a plan to put her garden to good use. With the help of her friends, a chef, and Summerville Baptist Church, her vision came to life.
“That was the birth of the “Katie’s Krops” dinners. I thought, I have all of these gardens, and they’re filled with vegetables,” says Stagliano.
Once a month, they cook a big sit-down meal and gather at the church. Every plate is made with fresh produce from the multitude of gardens they’ve planted in the Lowcountry.
“We harvested 14 and a half pounds this morning. All fresh from the garden,” says Stagliano’s friend Peyton Kelley, referring to the kale in tonight’s dinner.
Katie’s Krops dinners turned into a 2nd family for Stagliano. She says that these individuals have been able to watch her grow through multiple stages of her life.
With COVID-19 eliminating the possibility for large gatherings, they have started passing out to-go dinners via curbside pickup.
“I’ve actually really enjoyed passing out the meals, through the cars because it gives me a chance to talk to each and every guest that comes through, and it’s been so great during a tough time to see so many familiar faces and interact with some of my favorite people so it’s been really amazing,” says Stagliano.
She has plans to graduate from the College of Charleston this year and take on Katie’s Krops as a full time operation. For more information on hot meal pick-up, click here.