Helping the Homeless with Katie’s Krops!

It all began with a cabbage. At the age of 8, Katie Stagliano brought home a tiny cabbage seedling, which soon grew into a 40 lb behemoth. She generously donated her massive cabbage to a local soup kitchen, where it fed an amazing 245 people!


After seeing how much good resulted from her donation, Katie made it her mission to start gardens to provide fresh vegetables to people in need. Her organization, Katie’s Krops, now has over 100 gardens, and has donated thousands of pounds of produce to charity. The mission of Katie’s Krops is to empower young people to grow local gardens and encourage others to do the same.


Katie’s Krops even offers grants to young people to provide funds to start their garden. Anyone between the ages of 9-16 can apply here!

It’s so wonderful to see young people taking the initiative to help those in need, while getting useful experience in growing healthy food!


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A Lesson from Sunflowers – Bloom as you are!

Every year I like to grow sunflowers in the sunny part of the yard near my fence. Usually they grow to about 4-5 ft tall (1.2-1.5m), with a saucer-sized flower head filled with hundreds of seeds.

Last year's sunflower

This year, I was super busy in June and left the seedlings in the starter cups for too long. I planted them anyway, and now I have two rows of stunted mini-sunflowers, most of which are only knee high or so.


I was afraid they wouldn’t bloom at all because they’re so small, but I was pleasantly surprised to see a flower head start growing on each and every plant! Several of them have opened already, and as you can see (notice the chain link fence for scale), the flower is only about the size of a regular daisy or zinnia bloom.


I find this very inspiring! Life (ok, me) gave them a weak start, and left them much smaller than usual. But instead of giving up and refusing to bloom, they’re popping out the best flower they can. They don’t sit around in the dirt crying because of their situation, or comparing themselves to other sunflowers, they just spread their leaves, happily create a flower head, and open it up to the sun. Each flower, though small, is perfect in its own way; it has beautiful yellow petals, soft florets filled with nectar and pollen, and young seeds growing and ripening inside.

I think we humans should pay attention to this message! Instead of dwelling on the unfairness of your situation, the difficulties that you face, or feelings of not being good enough, just BLOOM. Bloom the best you can, with what you have, where you are. Your contribution is meaningful and valid, even if it doesn’t look like someone else’s. Make YOUR flower, whatever that may be, and share it proudly with the world.


Do as the sunflowers do, and BLOOM AS YOU ARE! You’re worth it. 🙂


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A Tribute to Sunflowers

Over the summer I planted a small patch of sunflowers in my yard. I started them by sprouting a handful of sunflower seeds from the birdseed that I keep in my bird feeder, then transferred the seedlings to a fresh patch of dirt near my fence where they would get sunlight almost all day. Most of them grew big and strong, and the largest three had huge flowers as big as a tea saucer! (I nicknamed them Drogon, Viserion, and Rhaegal, after the dragons on Game of Thrones.)


I love sunflowers for lots of reasons. I love that a small plain little seed can grow into such a big, tall, impressive plant. I love the huge, bright yellow flowers that brighten up a summer garden and feed the honeybees. And I love that they produce hundreds of nutritious and tasty seeds.


Sunflowers are a great example of the abundance of the universe! One seed produces a plant with flowers that provide lots of nectar and pollen for insects, as well as food and shelter for other bugs in the leaves and stems. When the flower is done, it matures into a seed-head with hundreds of new seeds that can either produce an entire crop of new plants, or they can provide a valuable and nutritious food source for birds and other animals. I love watching wild birds picking seeds from the dried flower, knowing that the food the sunflower provides will give them energy for the long journey south, or fatten them up to survive the coming winter. All this life-giving abundance from one tiny seed!


Even after the seeds are all gone, the plants themselves provide food for my chickens. The gobble up the leaves, and love to pick at the heads for anything the songbirds might have missed. Sunflowers give joy and life at every stage in their lives.

I plan to plant even more sunflowers next year, hopefully all along the length of my fence!

What are your favorite summer plants?

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