Pirates’ Patch Community Garden ~ West Carrollton High School, Ohio

Since 2016 students, age 14 to 19, at West Carrollton High have been growing with Katie’s Krops. They are having a tremendous impact on their community by sharing their harvest with St. Vincent de Paul Homeless Shelter.

“Not only have our students gained self-confidence, pride, and community service, they have gained a life long skill and can grow to produce for themselves and their families. We have learned the power of a seed. We gain pride and a sense of wellbeing,” shared Judi Brooks, Garden Coordinator.

Their garden is a place where connections are made when working side by side; students and adults share life stories and gain insight from one and other. A listening ear can open many doors. You never know what each day in the garden grows.  

Dexter, Clayton, Ashleigh ~ Florida

Dexter age 18, Clayton age 16, and Ashleigh age 12 reside in Fort White, Florida, where they are having a tremendous impact on their community. In 2019 alone, they donated over 12,000 pounds of fresh produce to their community. Year after year, the siblings continue to be the top Katie’s Krops producers.

“We have learned from our garden/giving back experience that we gained a purpose in our community by serving those around us.   Giving back has been a great way to get to know our community and its citizens. We have an opportunity to meet lots of new people.  Working with other volunteers who also care about improving our surroundings allows us to broaden our network of supporters.  It has helped us better to understand the circumstances of other citizens in our community and helps you to be an effective and empathetic citizen.”

Their garden grows year-round, and they share their harvest with The Young Marines of North Central Florida. The Young Marines is a national non-profit 501c3 youth education and service program for boys and girls, age eight, through the completion of high school. The Young Marines promote the mental, moral, and physical development of its members.

The Young Marines of North Central Florida Food Pantry – Feeding  Families – Food Pantry Distribution is held every Tuesday, in Fort White, Deece Park, at 1:00 pm.  Food insecurity and drug use are closely connected in the context of poverty, according to studies. Findings suggest a high degree of poverty among study participants, but particularly among drug users.  Drug users were more likely to be food insecure and be exposed to increasingly severe food sufficiency problems.  Their goal is also to help reduce drug use by providing a source of food security.  They strive to promote community service that will end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, promote sustainable agriculture, and promote living a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.

“Growing for Katie’s Krops is important to us because we are able to reach a diverse population of people and do one thing….help others.   We serve three organizations, North Central Florida Young Marines, Scouts of America, and Katie’s Krops.”

We are blessed to have young Growers who are so dedicated to serving their community.

Stony Lane Elementary School- Rhode Island

Students at Stony Lane Elementary School in North Kingstown, Rhode Island have been growing with Katie’s Krops since 2012. Annually over 380 students help their expansive garden grow and teach students how to be part of their environment (not just walk through it) and help them learn that they have an important role in helping their community, and to feel purpose in helping others. 

They are most excited about their growing relationship with the North Kingstown Food Pantry. In the beginning, they struggled with syncing their harvest with the food pantry schedule.  Last year was a HUGE change.  In partnership with the NKFP, they were able to help establish “Farmstand Fridays.” Clients of the NKFP had the opportunity during the summer on Fridays to come and bring home fresh produce from local farms, neighbors, and the Katie’s Krops Stony Lane Giving Gardens.  They partnered with their local Tractor Supply to educate people about the efforts of these young Growers. Still, they encouraged the community members to donate every other harvest, all those extra veggies, or plant a few more rows for the Food Pantry.

Stony Lane students have partnered with Youth Service America and Katie’s Krops for 911 day of service.  It brought a new layer of service and they were thrilled to have the whole school involved. They created Tin Can Herb Gardens that were shared with the food pantry.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Stony Lane team and their families started vegetable and flower seedlings for clients of the NKPF to plant at their homes. Clients of the food pantry could grow at home during these challenging times. The first Phase was distributed on May 22nd ( over 70 plants!), and Phase 2 will take place on June 5th.  On Phase 1 day, a gentleman asked if this was the same group that made the Tin Can Herb Gardens.  He said that he so loved looking at the decorative labels- he felt that there was so much care and thought to them, and it made him happy when he looked at them. At the Food Pantry, it was so much fun for all to chat up gardening and learn about the Food Pantry client’s gardens.

“This is our 8th growing season, and we have had many learning experiences.  There are the obvious gardening experiences: Mother Nature (being in New England and having a short growing season), animals feasting, and students learning basic gardening (conquering the fear of bugs or even getting used to the feel of soil in their hands).  In the past 3 years, we have really tried to bring more of a focus on where all these efforts go- Our NK Community! Helping others is contagious and we try to instill this mindset within our Stony Lane Community. Our students range in age, and yet all help in their own way to produce our harvests.  Many are curious about where food comes from and they take great pride in caring for the food that will go to our community. For us, 2019 was a big Outreach Year.  Not only did we hit our harvest goal of 500 pounds, but we worked to let our community know that they too can grow for donation at home.  Right as we hit the 2020 growing season, our students were moved to distant learning.  We divided up tasks among the team families and kept moving forward.  We started our seedlings in multiple homes and have managed to plant almost all our beds to date.  One of our families were even “Garden Fairies.” We offered seeds to our Stony Lane Families and had a great response- 18 garden care packages full of seeds and a bonus tomato seedling was distributed to Stony Lane Families who are growing at home (no contact delivery of course!).  What makes our Giving Gardens so special is the community feeling of our team and the fun we have caring for the garden.  We miss this as we must practice social distancing and limited group size. But we are finding ways to get things done and feel connected at a time when our harvests are even more critical for our community.”

Alabama Christian Academy – Alabama

Alabama Christian Academy students, grades K3 through 5th grade, have been growing with Katie’s Krops since 2015. “We love teaching our students about serving others. They can learn about giving back to their community. It incorporates so many academic learning opportunities while also providing a clear understanding of being service-minded.”

“Our students love watching the garden grow from start to finish. It’s always a lot of work to get the beds prepared and ready for planting. Then the watering and weeding take a lot of time. However, the work that is put into the garden is worth it as they watch the plants grow and mature. The first signs of crop production is always exciting. Once we can harvest, the students and teachers love seeing how many pounds of produce has been grown. Taking the food to the Food Bank is always such a time of excitement and helps us feel like what we’ve done has been worth it. It all comes to a full circle from start to finish. We make a point to be sure our students know how much it means to our community and how this whole experience is about giving back and serving others” shared Lindsey Donaldson, the second-grade teacher.

The harvest from their garden is donated with the Montgomery Area Food Bank, and they have an impressive yield to share! Year after year, they donate hundreds and hundreds of pounds of produce annually.

Strong support from the principal, Doug Black, plays a significant role in keeping the garden up during the summer. Teachers’ involvement is instrumental to their success. They host a summer camp, and those students work in the garden as part of their weekly activities. During the school year, each class takes care of a specific bed that is labeled with their class name and grade level. It is a team effort! 

To kick off our growing seasons each year, the teachers read ‘Katie’s Cabbage,’ which helps them understand that the concept for Katie’s Krops came from a student who was close to their age and how she allowed a school project to turn into something so much bigger. It encourages them to dream big and think of ways they can serve others as well in addition to our service through our garden. 

“I am blown away each year that we are given this opportunity of receiving a grant to take on this task of creating a garden that serves others. The grant provided allows us to have a garden with 12 beds that we fill with wonderful things to grow so that others can enjoy fresh produce. The Montgomery Area Food Bank usually focuses on canned goods and non-perishable items. The fact that we are able to provide people in our community with fresh produce makes us smile and feel like we’ve done something great.” 

Jacquelyn – Pennsylvania

Jacquelyn has been a Katie’s Krops Grower since 2015; now 21-year-old she continues to help feed her community in Pennsylvania. Jacquelyn shared, “I began growing after serving at homeless shelters in my community several years ago and seeing a great need for fresh produce. I have continued growing because I have not only been able to touch many lives but through meeting so many people and hearing their stories, I have likewise been touched and inspired.” The harvest from her efforts is shared with Jesus Focus Food Pantry, Southampton.
Local community members, including church parishioners, youth group members, students, families, and retirees, support the garden and help it grow.
Organizing and maintaining the garden has taught me the importance of responsibility, commitment, planning, and communication. I have also developed stronger leadership skills and learned more about gardening, composting, and sustainability. The experiences I have had in working to make the garden successful have been applied in every area of my life, including school, jobs, and in other service initiatives. I am thankful to Katie’s Krops for all their ongoing support and for continuing to change the world one garden at a time.”

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CeCe – Maryland

CeCe, 13 years-old, lives in Urbana, Maryland. CeCe has quickly learned, “It takes only one small gesture to make someone’s day, and it creates a positive impact.” She has five plots at a local community garden, of which three parcels have been donated by the owners of Stone Barn Community Gardens and two plots gifted by her parents. CeCe also has a garden at her elementary school (Centerville), which she has since graduated from. The school garden is a quarter of an acre of land. In addition to all of these garden spaces, CeCe has also expanded her efforts to grow a healthy end to hunger by using growing bags to grow at her home. 

CeCe shares her harvest with a local senior community center, but with the current COVID 19 pandemic and the center shut down, and the lack of fresh vegetables in stores, she will donate to her immediate local community. 

“I grow because I love helping people who are in need and don’t have the resources to afford food. This year the need isn’t necessarily about those in financial need but also the lack of availability of some fresh vegetables in our stores. We have had a lot of families that have been laid off or have had their hours cut due to the current situation, and I want to be able to do what I can.” 

James – Oklahoma

James, 17, of Oklahoma is our 2019 Grower of the Year. He donated over 800 pounds of the produce he grew to Veterans in his community.

James was inspired to grow with Katie’s Krops to provide fresh produce as a way to honor Veterans for all of their sacrifices to keep us free, to honor seniors for paving the way for his generation, and to help those that have fallen on hard times.

We are incredibly grateful that James has spent the spring and summer sharing his gardening knowledge with his fellow Growers. This summer, James shared his knowledge of garden and growing by writing articles that he shared with his fellow Growers.

Joseph – California

Joseph, 14 years old, is growing in California in his backyard. His mom and dad are his most prominent supporters, helping him in the garden and helping him make his donations to Shepard’s Gate, helping women and children escape cycles of homelessness, abuse, and addiction.

 

“I’ve learned about taking care of a small garden and how much work it is. It makes me feel good to be able to help others. Now that there is a pandemic it makes it even more important to help out with food donations.”