After visiting a local food bank on a school trip, I was surprised to see the limited fresh produce options for families utilizing area food banks.
I know shelf-stable items are easier for the average person to donate during a food drive, and more practical for food pantries to store. But I also know how important fresh fruit and vegetables are to a healthy diet!
I decided I wanted to make a difference in my community in the fight for food justice.
My interest in gardening was peaked when I read about Katie’s Krops, a non-profit organization that encourages youth to grow vegetables and fruit to feed the hungry in their communities.
Katie’s Krops offers grants for youth ages 9-16. I applied for a grant last summer and was honored and excited to be selected.
Last summer, I grew my first vegetable garden and donated the crops to the St. Louis Area Foodbank.
It felt great to do my part to help the Foodbank provide more fresh food. I enjoyed the whole experience so much that applied this year for another grant from Katie’s Krops.
I encourage all kids interested in making a difference in their community to apply for a Katie’s Krops grant.
You don’t have to be a gardening expert to make an impact.
Last year, I was new to gardening, so I read and researched online for gardening tips and ideas.
I discovered which vegetables grow best in the Midwest and developed a plan for planting a simple raised-bed vegetable garden. I even watched videos online so I knew just how to plant my first garden.
Katie’s Krops provided me with the funding to purchase supplies to build my raised garden bed, plus gardening tools, plants and seeds.
Gardening has taught me a lot. As I waited for my vegetables to grow, I learned some valuable lessons about patience and persistence.
Daily watering of the garden taught me responsibility, and I developed a true appreciation for rain.
When rabbits, birds and squirrels began nibbling in my garden, I learned how to deal positively with frustration. This also taught me to think quickly to solve problems.
I purchased netting and a small fence to surround and cover the vegetable garden. The satisfaction of overcoming obstacles was a reward in itself.
The best part of my gardening experience is that I get to give back to the community while hooking my entire family into gardening.
I encourage all youth to apply for a Katie’s Krops grant and plant a vegetable garden to help fight hunger in their communities.
By Sophie Bernstein
Clayton High School student and recipient of Katie’s Krops grant