Southern Living 2023 Southerners Of The Year
Summerville, South Carolina
Katie Stagliano found her calling at 9 years old when her third-grade teacher sent her home with a seedling for the backyard. Her tiny plant grew into a 40-pound cabbage. “I was shocked because I didn’t know they could get that big. But I realized that this one was far too large for my family to eat,” she says. Every night, her father would remind them just how lucky they were to sit down to a healthy dinner when some people were not able to.
“That’s how I got the idea that changed my life forever,” she says. “I donated my cabbage to a soup kitchen to help feed those who might not otherwise have a meal.” The director of the kitchen invited her to serve her cabbage in a soup with ham and rice. Stagliano remembers how surprised she was to see how many families just like hers were waiting in line for a meal. Because that one vegetable served 275 guests, she thought, “How many people could a garden feed?”
With the support of her parents, she launched Katie’s Krops. The idea took off when her school gave her a plot of land the size of a football field. Soon, the whole student body was involved. Katie’s Krops became an official nonprofit, and her message began to spread. Kids across the country reached out wanting to start their own gardens, so the organization began offering funding and support to Katie’s Krops Growers between the ages of 7 and 16.
Today, at 25 years old, Stagliano is at the helm of a project that includes 100 gardens in 33 states. Collectively, Katie’s Krops has donated around 600,000 pounds of produce—with no plans of slowing down. Stagliano says, “I would love to reach all 50 states and eventually expand internationally.”