Five years ago I made a decision that forever changed the course of Katie's Krops. That decision was to offer grants to other kids across the country to start Katie's Krops gardens. I was only 12-years-old and filled with doubts. Would anyone apply for a grant? Did other kids truly share my passion for growing an end to hunger?
Putting my doubts aside, we moved forward with launching the first Katie's Krops grant cycle. The results were truly surprising. Over 200 applications were submitted for the very first Katie's Krops grant cycle. Selecting the recipients proved to be the biggest challenge. I poured over the 200 plus applications, reading and reviewing each and everyone. One stood out among the rest, a class of third grade students in Watkinsville, Georgia. I selected Mrs. McGrath's third grade class as one of our very first growers and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made!
Fast forward five years. I finally had the honor of visiting one of our longest standing gardens in Watkinsville, Georgia. You see, with over 80 plus gardens growing across the country it is impossible to visit even a small fraction of the gardens that bear the Katie's Krops name.
The moment I walked into the classroom the energy was electric. The students greeted me with open arms, eager to share the gardens. Yes gardens, plural. With every year, with every third grade class that passes through Mrs. McGrath's classroom their garden grows and expands!
The door leading out of the classroom into their garden is paved with 'Gardening with a Purpose', a sign of what these students do each and every day. You are welcomed into a garden filled with raised beds filled with vegetables. A beautiful garden mural adorns one wall. Fig trees and even a greenhouse constructed from recycled windows complete the garden. This is the garden that was constructed the very first year that the students started growing with Katie's Krops.
Next the students guided me to a chicken coop filled with fresh eggs and chickens racing around. This is year two with Katie's Krops. A walk to a beautifully fenced in-garden wrapped with fragrant flowers brought us to year three. Inside the fence, hand painted stepping stones led us down a path to a lush garden filled with berry bushes, raised beds, flowers and vegetables. The pride these students had for their work was amazing. Lastly, we explored year four, the fruit orchard.
Words on a page do not do the gardens justice. How can I express just how proud I am of these students? How can I express how grateful I am to Mrs. McGrath? She is the driving force behind these students. She is the amazing woman who spends her in-school, out-of-school and summer hours growing my dream. How can I express how proud I am to have my name associated with this garden? There simply are not words to do so.
To that 12-year-old girl who was filled with doubts about who would apply for a grant, who would share the dream to grow and end hunger, in five years you will walk into the most amazing garden and realize dreams do come true! To Mrs. McGrath's students in Watkinsville, Georgia, I can't wait to see what happens in year five!