By Katie Stagliano
Katie’s Krops is built on the belief that youth can end hunger one vegetable garden at a time. Our goal is simple — to provide healthy, fresh food to as many people in need as possible. Taking this into account, we plant high-yielding crops to get the largest harvest.
So what do we grow in our gardens? Tomatoes are a staple. By planting indeterminate tomatoes, we are able to harvest the fruits of our labor for several months. Indeterminate tomato plants grow, flower, and produce fruit over a long period of time, unlike determinate tomato plants, which die early in the season.
Bell peppers are another high-yielding crop found in Katie’s Krops gardens. We plant our peppers in the spring, and they continue to produce until the first frost, which in the South Carolina Low Country can come in December. A personal favorite of mine is the Ichiban Japanese eggplant. It produces up to 40 slim, purplish-black eggplants per plant.
We rely on donations, both monetary and material. Sometimes material donations can come in fun and unexpected forms. Bonnie Plants donated 4,000 seedlings for our fall gardens. With this extremely generous donation, satellite Katie’s Krops gardens were set up all over my neighborhood in an attempt to house all of the seedlings. And this spring, we’ll be visiting our friends at the Bonnie Plants greenhouses in Manning, South Carolina, to select our seedlings. What are we growing this spring? We’ll let you know after our visit!
I have always wanted to grow fruits, but I never imagined I’d become a blueberry farmer. Yet that’s exactly what happened when a very generous blueberry grower from Fall Creek Farm and Nursery in Oregon heard of our efforts and generously donated 700 blueberry bushes. The youngest recipients of our harvest were very excited to receive fresh blueberries. The bonus to this amazing donation is that the blueberry bushes will continue to produce a harvest for years and years to come!
Every season brings new lessons. No matter how hard we try, the Low Country of South Carolina simply is not the right climate to grow pumpkins. Plus, we need a bigger space to grow corn. However, we’ve learned to focus our energies on what works rather than fighting our climate, soil, and space restrictions.
Cabbage is one of the biggest success stories. It may have something to do with the fact that I got my start with the Bonnie Plants 3rd Grade Cabbage Program, but I’ve become an expert cabbage grower. Each year, we grow hundreds of pounds of cabbage, which comes in especially handy in March when we serve a traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner for people in need.
Regardless of the seeds we choose to sow, Katie’s Krops is about growing hope for struggling families. I’m proud to say that hope, love, and compassion will be growing this spring all across the United States, from Maine to Hawaii, thanks to the gardens started by Katie’s Krops’ grantees 9 to 16 years of age.
My dream is to have at least one Katie’s Krops garden in every state across the country. I’m happy to say that this spring more than 60 Katie’s Krops gardens will be growing from Maine to Hawaii.