Selena~ Maryland

Many of the young Growers supported by Katie’s Krops Krops have several years of

experience before they join us. Selena Torres, a 13-year-old 7th grader in

Maryland is not one of those. She was an absolute novice at the start of the

2023 growing season, her first year with us. With a heart for helping those in

need, a willingness to learn, and a supportive mother, Diamond, who was also

new to growing, Selena hasn’t let her lack of experience intimidate her.


Diamond is a teacher who was searching for learning opportunities for her

students when she came across Katie’s Krops online. After Selena was

accepted as a Grower, they built two raised beds and grew tomatoes last year as well as a

few herbs. This year, they are building a third bed and expanding their crops to

more tomatoes, parsley, cucumbers, carrots, and peppers (if those seeds

germinate, the first seeds did not).

As an organic gardener living in USDA growing zone 7, Selena’s challenges

come from the abundant wildlife in the woods behind her backyard and

controlling the inevitable bugs. Her mother and ten-year-old brother, Daniel, help

with general gardening tasks and pest eradication efforts, using row

covers to keep bugs out and hand-picking those that make it through the barrier.

This year, she’s also planning to try shallow pans of beer to take out the slugs.

While Selena enjoys building and filling the beds, her main reason for growing is

to be able to provide food to the homeless. Two years ago, her aunt, Bliss

Power started and now runs a grassroots, mostly self-funded charity in

Washington, DC, called “Bless the Block.” Selena was deeply impacted by what

she saw when she helped distribute clothing, toiletries, and meals to people in

the homeless encampments. The produce she grows is donated to the charity to

use in preparing meals or given to people directly.

We are proud to support gardeners at all levels as they support their

communities, and we look forward to working with Selena for the next several



Mikey~ New Jersey

Mikey Miceli, a 14 year old freshman in Jackson, New Jersey, may be a new Katie’s Krops grower in 2024 but he is most certainly not new to gardening. He’s been working the gardens alongside his parents and now 16 year old brother, Antonio, since he was 7. The family’s expansive gardens include an orchard with apple, peach, plum, pear and chestnut trees as well as raised beds in which they grow blueberries, raspberries, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, cantaloupes, peas, green beans, strawberries, radishes, and onions with plans to try growing endame and corn this year. 

When his father found out about Katie’s Krops on Facebook, Mikey didn’t think he had a chance of being selected as a grower. However, he still applied and his enthusiasm and personality shined through in his application video. With all of the land and beds that they currently have, when asked what he specifically wanted to do with his Katie’s Krops funding grant, he had a ready answer – buy a greenhouse. The $400 provided enabled him to do exactly that and to our knowledge, he’s become the first Katie’s Krops gardener to have one. He’s already using the greenhouse to start the seeds for summer crops while simultaneously tending cold weather crops in the uncovered raised beds. 

Mikey doesn’t rely on others for all his gardening money though. He raised and sold strawberry plants and used that money to buy seed heating pads for his seedlings. 

Gardening and living inspiration doesn’t come from just his immediate family. During a trip to Italy two years ago, Mikey was in awe of his great-grandmother, who was raising and tending to her own livestock and garden to supply all her food needs. Back in New Jersey, his family is doing much the same. They have previously raised meat birds and have 14 laying hens to provide eggs. Mikey hunts for rabbits. They preserve produce for their own needs through a combination of freezing, dehydrating, vacuum sealing and canning while still growing enough to donate to “share the wealth” with those in need. To that end, the family has contacted a local church for assistance in making sure the produce is given to those that are truly in need. 

With their experience in all phases of growing in zone 7A, from weeding, tending to the plants, laying down wood chips between beds to cut down on weeds, or consulting a master gardener recommended by Katie’s Krops to ensure that the woodpecker in the apple tree won’t hurt the tree or the apples (it won’t), the Micelis are a family that believes in growing and giving back. Katie’s Krops is proud to support them ansespecially Mikey in their efforts.


Ezekiel + Zachariah~ Michigan

Every gardener faces adversity at some point, and 9-year-old Ezekiel and his seven-year-old brother Zachariah have probably encountered more than their share for their ages. It all started at their previous home in West Virginia, where they became Katie’s Krops Growers after their mom, Meg, read about the organization on Facebook. Their garden there did well until the bugs got to the green beans and peas. Still, they had a good harvest of other crops that they could donate to a senior home in the town of Rupert.

Before the 2023 growing season, they moved to Michigan and settled near Lansing to be near family. Unfortunately, their new home didn’t have a yard for growing. Hence, the family got creative and started a porch garden with tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeno, and other hot peppers and cilantro. Growing in containers was a new learning experience. Still, they were doing well, picking and sharing their crop in the community while expecting to harvest even more until August 24, when the tornado came. Yes, a TORNADO! In Michigan…

Mom Meg says that losing some roof shingles and a bit of siding from their rental home didn’t disturb her nearly as much as losing some of their plants and the fruit from others. They knew they wouldn’t have as much bounty to share, but the boys wanted to continue their efforts because Zachariah finds gardening fun. Ezekiel enjoys tasting vegetables straight from the garden. Meg became creative with what they did have and started stretching it by using the ripe produce in meals that they then shared in their neighborhood with those in need. She also pickled some of the jalapenos and distributed those for the community members to use this winter. That’s good because their 2023 gardening season is over, and they’ve even had their first snowfall.

Mom is one of many in the family that are creative, though. Ezekiel and Zachariah showed that same spirit in West Virginia when they wanted to eat a watermelon, and Mom was busy with something else. They knew they shouldn’t use the knife to cut it, so they threw it on a wall. Not surprisingly, it broke open, and they enjoyed a delicious treat. While we at Katie’s Krops don’t encourage throwing food around, especially watermelons, we applaud their spirit and ability to adapt to changing growing methods, climate, and circumstances beyond anyone’s control.

We look forward to sponsoring them in the coming years.

River City Science Academy ~ Florida

Click Here to Support River City Science Academy via Their Amazon Wishlist!

Some of the luckiest people are the ones who find something they are passionate about and are able to use that passion to support themselves and others. Jarred Shaw, a literacy coach at the River City Science Academy’s Middle-High School in Jacksonville, Florida, is one of those people. An educator for 23 years and previously a school principal in New Jersey, Jarred has always worked with students and local farmers on the gardens at every school where he was a staff member. Now he serves as the head of the school garden club at this Title 1 charter school.

The garden started when Jarred brought in produce to share from his home garden and a science teacher suggested turning a small, blighted space on the school property into a garden. In addition to soliciting support and donations, a student, Donte Camacho, and Jarred wrote a grant request to Katie’s Krops and we have supported them for the last two years.

The six raised and six in-ground beds provide produce year-round. Sweet potatoes, watermelon, cucumbers, broccoli, eggplant, snow peas, pole beans, collards, spinach, and other leafy greens are some of the vegetables that complement the fruit from 15 varieties of fruit trees including lemon, lime, fig grapefruit, and herbs such as basil, oregano and parsley. They also have a butterfly garden and grow milkweed, roses, and other flowers as pollinators.

The 150 pounds of food produced so far has all been distributed to the students in need as well as some school staff. One 75-year-old teacher said the produce he receives helps keep him alive. New raised beds are being built from wooden pallets so that even more can be grown and shared.

The garden club is still small, with 5 to 10 students participating at any given time. As a STEM school, there are many activities vying for the attention of the students. They still appreciate the garden, and science teachers like being able to use it for some of their lessons.

The garden is also supported by members of the community, including Jones and Hall Garden Center, the Florida Farm Bureau, Target, Southeastern Grocers, and Wild Ones, a group that promotes the use of native plants. In the summer, support for maintaining the garden comes from Jarred himself as well as school maintenance staff and volunteers. For his part, Jarred does not mind because, again, he has a passion for gardening and for providing healthy eating options to his students. Katie’s Krops shares those passions, and we are happy to support Jarred, the students, and the school garden.


Jackson~ Illinois

Nine-year-old Jackson from Illinois enjoyed his first year as a Katie’s Krops Grower so much that he plans to grow again in 2024. He first heard about the organization from his mom while researching grants for her adult garden club.

It has yet to be a total success story; Jackson’s tomatoes, eggplants, and lettuce did great, but the peppers and beans were another story. Despite that, he donated 21 pounds of peaches from the family’s existing trees and 25 pounds of vegetables from his two raised beds to his neighbors and a local food pantry. He also learned about plant diseases and how the drought conditions in the Midwest affected his garden, requiring him to often water with a hose or from a bucket to keep his plants alive.

Jackson did not limit his efforts to just food. He also grew swamp milkweed to raise butterflies and was successful when three orange and black monarchs matured. He nicknamed them Milanos after the cookie container in which they
were raised.

With assistance from his mom and sometimes his sister, Jackson was able to help others, which he says is why he puts in the work to grow. We here at Katie’s Krops are happy to hear that and to help Jackson as he continues with his garden in the coming years.

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.


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.  

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.

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.

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.

Norah ~ South Carolina

For Norah Drumming, a 12-year-old rising 7th grader at Aiken Intermediate School in Aiken, South Carolina, growing for Katie’s Krops is a family affair. Her Aunt Shania was the first in her family member to join grow with us. She spent seven years tending the garden beds in her mother Selma Sullivan’s backyard after they heard about the organization from a church member. Although this is Norah’s first year as an official gardener, she has been helping with the garden since she was three. That tradition is being passed on with seven-year-old sister Eva, who will be in the 3rd grade at East Aiken School of the Arts this fall, and is now helping Norah.

The girls, assisted by their grandmother, are growing a variety of fruits and vegetables in the raised beds and pots that they’ve affectionately nicknamed “Pickers Patch.” These include carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, soybeans, radishes, lettuce, spinach, and bok choy. Cucamelons are a first-time crop this year, but Chinese noodle beans are out. Even though they were successful last year, the recipients weren’t used to eating them, as they have a rubbery texture. So they’ve been replaced by pole-style green beans grown on an archway.

Those recipients include elderly members of their church, Shaws Creek Baptist in nearby Trenton, and their neighbor Miss Mary. Norah and Eva supply baskets of their ripe produce and bouquets that are grown both for pollination and giving. They also share some dozen and a half egg that their hens produce each week.

Living in USDA growing zone 8 provides many advantages, such as an extended growing season. It’s not without its problems, though. For example, a late frost killed all the blueberry blossoms this spring, and deer ate the peas. Squash bugs have damaged some plants as well.

Norah and Eva both said they like to help others when asked why they do it. Norah and Selma have found it to be a good bonding experience, and Eva said it’s fun to be outside and see things like the cats lying in the flowers. College student Shania still helps when she can, and parents Demetrick and Mandy support and encourage their daughter’s passion for gardening and giving back.

The garden has been so successful over the years that they’ve inspired their church to start its garden. The children at the church are now learning how to garden, too, and loving it.