Soil³ Story: Katie’s Krops Grows More Food With Soil³

Laurie Wakefield
Guest blogger Laurie Wakefield is a Master Gardener and PR and Marketing Communications Consultant. She loves to spend time in her own garden and visit others, and learn new gardening techniques and tips for healthy living. She is creator of the GardenZeal website where experienced gardeners share their enthusiasm and share great information. Laurie's website:
June 22, 2023 4 minute read

Last summer, on a very hot and steamy morning near Charleston, I visited the Katie’s Krops flagship garden. I’d been communicating with Katie Stagliano to plan the visit and I couldn’t wait to meet her. 

I’d read about Katie and learned how her non-profit began fourteen years ago with a little help and encouragement from her parents.

She was just nine-years-old when she brought a cabbage seedling home from school and planted it in her family’s backyard. That cabbage grew to weigh 40 pounds and the family knew they could not eat it all by themselves. Katie decided to donate the cabbage to a local soup kitchen. 

When she and her family delivered the cabbage, the soup kitchen organizers invited Katie to participate in serving meals to their guests. Her cabbage was used for meals that fed 275 people.

The experience was life-changing for Katie—she was surprised to see just how many members of her own community were hungry and food insecure. It made such an impression on her that she knew she wanted to grow more food to feed those in need. That’s when her youth-based nonprofit organization, Katie’s Krops began.

Katie’s Krops Flagship Garden

The Katie’s Krops flagship garden is tucked behind Crossroads Community Church on their campus in Summerville, South Carolina. 

As we rounded the corner I was delighted to see that the Katie’s Krops garden was much more than I expected it to be. In addition to two large garden areas full of raised beds that were brimming with beautiful vegetables and brightly colored Zinnias, the garden included a gorgeous outdoor classroom.

Katies Krops GardenViews

Bright signs welcomed visitors, outlined garden rules and reminded the volunteers to wash their hands before harvesting. There was a washing station, a weigh station, and even a garden book library and a seed library. A garden shed was full of supplies and a table in the garden was piled high with baskets for harvesting, bins of gloves and garden tools.

Katies Krops wash sign

As beautiful as the garden was, what impressed me most about the day was Katie’s leadership and organization. She had arrived early that morning to prepare for the families that would be coming to volunteer that day. Her “to-do” list was written on a blackboard alongside a hand-drawn message, “Welcome to Katie’s Krops Garden” on another blackboard in the outdoor classroom.

Katie Stagliano work day prep

When the children and their parents began to arrive, all eyes were on Katie as she helped them wash their hands and led them off to harvest. These were regular volunteers so the routine was familiar to them and all those hands eagerly went to work. Katie engaged each child and it was so much fun to see their enthusiasm. 

Katies Krops kids harvesting-1

She moved continually throughout the garden, supervising, teaching, and helping the children harvest.


A few of the older children weighed the vegetables. After 120 pounds of vegetables were harvested and flowers were picked, she led the group back to the cooling fans that were set up in the outdoor classroom.

boys weighing Katies Krop harvest

Katie served popsicles, celebrated the harvest and visited with the children as she reminded them that they would be bringing flower arrangements and fresh vegetables to a senior complex in Charleston that afternoon. Some of the children made cards for the seniors while others worked with some of the moms to create flower arrangements.


Flowers at Katies Krops

Katie also reminded them that their next harvest would be used for the Katie’s Krops dinner that would be served later that week.

Katie shares her passion for “a healthy end to hunger, one vegetable garden at a time” with all of these children. They were so pleased with their harvest. Several of the children were eager to tell me all the ways that they share the crops from the garden, including donations directly to food pantries and to individuals in need, in addition to the Katie’s Krops dinners.

Much More Than a Single Donation Garden

Katie believes in the power of youth and she has modeled youth service while teaching and encouraging young people to grow donation gardens as well. The Katie’s Krops program includes dinners for the needy, classes in the outdoor classroom at the flagship garden, and support for young growers at other donation gardens.

Over the years, Katie has inspired other youth to grow donation gardens. Today, thousands of children work in Katie’s Krops youth-run gardens across across 30 states as well as 2 gardens in Africa. There are now more than 100 Katie's Krops youth donation gardens.

Katies Krops Garden sign-1

Learning in the Outdoor Classroom

In March 2021, the outdoor classroom was added at the Katie’s Krops flagship garden in Summerville. They hold classes in this space where they teach families and individuals about the importance of giving back to others, being good stewards of the earth, and how to grow their own produce.

Katies Krops Outdoor Classroom-1

Katie’s Krops Dinners

Ten years ago, when their local soup kitchen closed, Katie’s Krops stepped up. They organized donations and volunteers to prepare meals (based on produce from their garden) for people in need in their community. Katie’s Krops began serving sit down meals at Summerville Baptist Church, where nourishing food and fellowship were shared on a regular basis.

Before Covid began, they were serving approximately 150 - 200 meals at a time. When the pandemic hit they could see that needs were increasing dramatically. Since they weren’t able to gather indoors, they started preparing and handing out drive-through meals at the church and their numbers increased to 600 meals at a time. The Katie’s Krops meal distribution program is ongoing.

All of the Katie’s Krops dinners are prepared and served by local high school students. Today, approximately 200 meals are served in the drive-through setup, volunteers take meals to people who are unable to come pick up the food and a local lieutenant from the Sheriff’s department also delivers meals to a homeless encampment in the area. Katie says the dinners are her favorite part of their work because she considers all those they serve to be her second family.


Soil³ Helps Katie’s Krops Feed More People

The first year that they used Soil³ in the Katie’s Krops garden, they harvested over 1,000 pounds of sweet potatoes. This got their attention and they knew they needed to use it more of it. Since they began using Soil³ throughout their garden, productivity has increased tremendously, which helps Katie’s Krops feed more people.

Katie recently graduated from the College of Charleston and now works full time as Katie’s Krops founder and Chief Executive Gardener. Her mom, Stacy Stagliano has worked alongside Katie for the last 14 years and serves as president of the organization. You can learn more about the Katie’s Krops growers program, the Katie’s Krops dinners, and classes in the outdoor classroom, as well as ways to support their programs on the Katie’s Krops website.

Katies Krops uses Soil3 BigYellowBags-1


Photos and video by Laurie Wakefield, except for the last two that were provided by Katie's Krops.

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