Honest Helping Hands: Katie’s Krops

An Inside Look at Honestly Amazing Non-Profits

Katie Stagliano from South Carolina started Katie’s Krops five years ago out of her desire to feed people without food. For a third grade project, she grew a cabbage in her yard and donated it to a local soup kitchen where it went into a meal that fed 275 people. After that experience, Katie wondered how many people an entire garden could feed. Now 14, Katie has watched her small gardening project blossom into a non-profit that helps feed people in more than 25 states and encourages other youths to plant their own gardens. Katie shows us the power a simple garden can have on your community.

Q. What was your motive to start Katie’s Krops?

Katie's Krops

A. When I was in the third grade I received a tiny cabbage seedling from the Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program. As instructed by my teacher, I brought the cabbage seedling home, planted it and cared for it. When deer were spotted in my neighborhood I constructed a cabbage cage around my very special plant to protect it from hungry animals. When my cabbage was ready to harvest it weighed in at an amazing 40 pounds.

My father had always shared how blessed my family was to have food on the table every night. He explained that there were many families, many children, who went to bed hungry. As I watched my cabbage grow and discussed with my family what I should do with my massive cabbage, I recalled my father’s words. I knew that I wanted to share my cabbage with the families, the children, who did not have enough to eat.

In May of 2008, I donated my cabbage to Tricounty Family Ministries, a soup kitchen in North Charleston, South Carolina. I had the great honor to not only donate my cabbage but I had the privilege to serve it to the guests of the soup kitchen after it was prepared with ham and rice. My cabbage helped to feed 275 people. Who were the guests? There were families, just like mine. There were wounded Veterans. There were senior citizens. There were mothers and fathers. And there were children, just like me.

As I left Tricounty Family Ministries on that day I knew I wanted, I needed, to do more to help individuals who struggled with hunger. If one cabbage could feed 275 people, I imagined how many people a whole garden could feed. That was the birth of Katie’s Krops. I never imagined five years later Katie’s Krops would be a non-profit with over 60 gardens growing in over 25 states.

Q. Why is it important to get kids involved in non-profit work?

A. Whether you are 9 or 99, you have the ability to change the world. Find a cause you believe in and follow your heart. Youth are so powerful — just imagine how wonderful the world would be if every child decided to follow their heart and help, even for just one hour in a cause they believed in.

One of our young Rhode Island growers puts it best saying, “It made my heart grow twice as big to see how grateful these people were for us just by giving produce to them,” said Sofie, Katie’s Krops Grower, in seventh grade. Wouldn’t it be magical if every child had that experience?

Q. How can people (and kids specifically) get involved with your organization?

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A. Every Katie’s Krops garden is youth run. We provide grants to kids, age 9 to 16, to start vegetable gardens at their homes, schools, parks, rooftops or anywhere they have land to start a garden. Our grant cycle opens at the end of the year (around December).

If a child, or a group of friends or students, is excited about growing a healthy solution to hunger in their community, I would love for them to apply.

At Katie’s Krops we go beyond just awarding grants. It has been my dream to create a family of young growers all across the United States. Every grower receives funding and a camera to document their garden. In addition, every young grower is also eligible to attend the all-expenses paid Katie’s Krops Camp. Katie’s Krops also offers an educational scholarship for the volunteer and grantee of the year.

What makes Katie’s Krops unique is that all grants are renewable. If a grantee wants to continue to grow, we will support their efforts. This makes Katie’s Krops a truly sustainable solution to hunger.

We always need help to make this all possible. We would love to find individuals and companies who believe in our efforts and will support the efforts.

Q. What was your most memorable moment during your work with Katie’s Krops?

A. There have been more than I could ever count but one very special moment happened very early on. I was invited to speak at a Bible School Camp. The young campers, all under the age of 10, filled the room. When I finished speaking about my dream of Katie’s Krops, I asked if there were any questions. A young girl in the back of the room raised her hand and said, “I don’t have a question. I just want to say you are very nice.” She stood up and came to the front of the room. On her shirt she had a small sticker that said ‘Love’. She removed the sticker from her shirt and put it over my heart then she leaned in and gave me a big hug. When she left the room the Bible School Director shared that the little girl was homeless. She and her family had been relying on the homeless shelter for support. The vegetables I had been donating to the shelter were feeding her family. I will never forget that moment.

Q. Getting a non-profit up and running (and keeping it running) can be hard work. Do you have any advice for someone (of any age) looking to start their own?

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A. I have to be honest. I never set out to start a non-profit. I set out to help end hunger in my community. I worked very hard and my efforts caught the attention of Build-A-Bear. I was honored to be a Build-A-Bear Huggable Hero 2009. I was awarded a donation for my cause but I did not have a 501(c)(3) to accept the funds. I found the support I need from RandomKid.org. They provide a 501(c)(3) umbrella for charitable or educational efforts developed by youth. I was blessed to be one of those youth!

This was the best possible scenario for my dream, Katie’s Krops. RandomKid helped guide and support my efforts. Eventually, after a few years, we had grown so large that it was time for us to form our own 501(c)(3).

What would my advice be? If you are a young philanthropist, reach out and find a support system. I had the most amazing people guide and support my efforts. RandomKid was the best possible situation for Katie’s Krops. They gave us the chance to grow and to truly know that forming a non-profit was absolutely the right step for Katie’s Krops.

How To Buy Organic On a Budget For Holiday Parties

Vegetables

Holiday parties are all about sharing food and love with friends and family. But serving a large group of people the healthy, organic food you give your family can get expensive. So, how do you treat everyone to a wholesome meal without compromising on nutrition or breaking the bank?

Consult the EWG’s “dirty dozen” list and buy these ingredients organic. The dirty dozen are non-organic fruits and veggies that are often contaminated by pesticides (you can download the EWG’s app for iPhone or Android and take it with you to the grocery store). For the “clean 15” – non-organic items typically found to contain less pesticides — feel free to buy whatever is on sale to make your meal. No matter what you bring home, always give produce a good washing. To remove residue and grime you can use Honest’s Fruit & Veggie Wash.

Go for bulk. Instead of buying a box of organic quinoa or a bag of organic flour, check out the deals you can get in the bulk section of the supermarket. It’s amazing how much you can save when all you have to do is scoop it yourself.

Veggie-fy your meals. Juli Novotny of PureMamas says buying organic meat and dairy can up your grocery bill, but when you stick with organic fruits, veggies, and grains, it’s actually pretty affordable. An organic kale salad for 6-7 adults will only set you back about $10, and a vegetarian lasagna can feed a group for about $15 (see Juli’s shopping lists below — prices are approximations).

Kale Salad
Serves 6-7

  • 2 heads of dino kale is (about $4.00)
  • 1 -2 cups of uncooked organic cooked brown rice ($1.00 – $1.50)
  • 4 ounces walnuts ($3)
  • Sea salt, lemon juice & olive oil dressing ($1.00)
  • 1 non-organic avocado ($1.00)

Total= $10

Vegetarian Lasagna
Serves 5-6 adults

  • Organic noodles ($1.50)
  • Organic tomato sauce made from scratch ($8)
  • Cheese ($5.00)
  • Spinach and zucchini ($1.00)

Total= $15.50

Shop farmers’ markets. This is a great way to buy organic produce at affordable prices. According to Christopher Gavigan in Healthy Child Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener and Safer Home, if you can’t buy all your food organic just going organic with the “dirty dozen” can reduce your family’s pesticide exposure by 90 percent. Bonus! Buying in-season organic produce is less expensive, so consider purchasing it over other items and highlight that ingredient in a stand-out appetizer or specialty organic cocktail.

An organic holiday party doesn’t  have to begin and end with the menu. Inform your guests of your get-together by sending electronic invitations (Evite and Paperless Post have tons of cute templates that’ll save on paper and stamps). Create some ambiance with solar-powered lanterns for outdoor parties and soy-based candles for indoor soirées. And make your job as the host easier with eco-friendly biocompostable or biodegradable bamboo plates in case your reusable plates aren’t an option.

Monday Meditation: Kennedy on Thanking People

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Friday Finds: Tait Design Turbo Flyer

Friday Finds

Artisan Matthew Tait says, “I want to make awesome stuff and share it with my friends.” We couldn’t agree more! This  beautifully made Turbo Flyer will look great in the hands of every design lover, plane enthusiast, and kid at heart we know. The collectible’s nostalgic look and feel — not to mention the fact that Tait handcrafts the plane at his Michigan home and nearby TechShop Detroit — will leave our friends (and children) smiling.

Tait Design Co. Turbo Flyer

Image by Tait Design Co.

Meet Product Manager Irene Kong

Meet Honest Product Manager Irene Kong

What do you love most about working at Honest?

There are so many reasons why I love Honest! If I had to choose, it would definitely be the people. I’ve worked in a number of different roles and industries prior to coming to Honest, such as in manufacturing, R&D, and even banking. But I’ve never worked with such a group of intelligent and passionate people as I have here at Honest! Not only are they fun to work with, but I feel like I learn everyday from them. Everyone truly believes in the mission of making healthier, safer products for families, and there’s no better feeling than to walk into work knowing that I am surrounded by them.

What is your favorite product?

This isn’t even a fair question — seriously! I have to choose at least two. I use our body oil everyday. It has a great light scent and is absolutely perfect for dry skin. I also love our wipes. The wipes not only clean, but they are extremely moisturizing. I actually use them in place of lotion sometimes when my hands are feeling dry (I kid you not!).

What is your most memorable Honest moment?

I was one of those people who used antibacterial hand gel all the time before starting at Honest. On my first day of work, Christopher Gavigan handed me his book, Healthy Child, Healthy World. I started reading the book and came across the not-so-fun fact that there could be up to 275 active ingredients in traditional antibacterial products classified as pesticides. I was putting pesticides on my hands, thinking that I was “cleaning” them!! Needless to say, I found all my my antibacterial bottles (trust me, I had many) and threw them out immediately.

How do you embrace the Honest lifestyle at home?

I always felt like traditional cleaning products didn’t feel very safe, but I never did my research to confirm it. After starting at Honest, I learned about all the harmful chemicals that I could be exposing myself to. I threw out all the traditional cleaning items I’ve used for years, and replaced them with Honest cleaning products. Not only are they safe, but they work so well!

If you weren’t at work, what would you be doing?

I just moved to LA from NY less than a year ago, so I try to force myself to explore around the area. I am also trying to get back into outdoorsy adventures, such as 5K mud runs or another skydiving trip, like I’ve done back home. Surprisingly, I haven’t done any here with this amazing weather, but it’ll eventually happen! I’ve been trying to get into hiking, but it’s a little too slow and the city girl in me hasn’t learned to enjoy it quite yet.

I am a huge football and basketball fan, so on weekends you will find me glued to a TV in my NY Giants jersey yelling at the top of my lungs. (And, no, I do not want to talk about their season so far. It’s depressing!)

But, unfortunately, there are times when neither football or basketball are on. If that’s the case, I’ll do some leisure reading or catch up with my family. I am a huge science nerd, so naturally I am reading A Little History of Science by William Bynum.

On the weekends, I try my best to call my family back in NY as well. I am one of five kids (yes, you read that right) and very close to my parents and siblings. I am either on the phone with my mom listening to her latest shopping excursion, or Skyping with my 3-year-old nephew Maxwell about his new toys. The little man’s latest favorite “toy” is the Honest Kid’s Strawberry Toothpaste, which he carries around in his pocket (he can do no wrong in my eyes!).