Spring is just around the corner and 11-year old Madi, wearing garden gloves and carrying
tender starter plants, heads toward the freshly tilled garden located between her family’s and her grandparent’s homes. This is the third year that the enterprising 6th grader has grown her garden to help the children of Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH).
“We begin planting my garden late in March and continue the garden until the frost in fall,” Madi says.
Four to six rows 128-feet long are dedicated to Madi’s garden. The project was jumpstarted after Madi’s mom Pam learned of a grant available through Katie’s Krops. The nonprofit organization founded by now 14-year-old Katie Stagliano awards $400-dollar grants to other children who agree to grow a garden to help feed those in need. Madi has used the grant each of the three years to purchase seeds, starter plants, fertilizer, and occasionally tools.
Madi was inspired to help BCH’s children after hearing a presentation at her church, East Flat Rock First Baptist, by BCH’s western development director Lewis Smith. Madi decided to accept cash donations for the vegetables she grows and, because of the Katie’s Krops grant, all the money goes to BCH. Madi says that family members, folks at church, and her parents’ co-workers give more than what they would pay in a grocery store.
“My heart went out to the children at Baptist Children’s Homes,” Madi says. “I have so much
and I wanted to give whatever I could to help.”
A few times during the growing season, the money raised and boxes of fresh vegetables are
taken to BCH’s Broyhill Home in Clyde just a short drive from where she lives.
Madi has been around gardening all her life. Grandparents, uncles and her parents not only
grow their own gardens, but they pitch in and help Madi, too. “It can be hard work,” Madi confides, “but I enjoy it. Knowing my family is there to help me makes growing my garden even better. It’s one of the things we all do together.”
Growing her garden takes commitment, Madi says. “After everything is planted and things
begin to grow, I check each plant at least a couple of time a week. I weed constantly and
sometimes we need to water the plants. When time comes to harvest, you have to check every
day. I’ve learned to harvest things by their color – you can’t decide just by the size. A garden
is a living thing and it takes time to learn about it and nurture it.”
Last year, Madi delivered a speech to her fellow students at school about growing a garden to help others.
“I began my speech by saying you have to try hard to reach your goals,” she remembers. “I told them that I’ve learned that the seed doesn’t determine the size of the plant or what comes from it. I said, ‘It’s the same with people.’”
Madi says she believes everyone has potential, “sometimes far beyond what they or others might think.”
“I believe everyone can try and reach their goals. And just like with a plant, they might just be surprised with what could come from it.”
Katie’s Krops provides a summer camp learning experience for growers who receive grants.
Madi attended the 2014 camp held at a large, family-owned commercial farm in South
Carolina. The Rawl family underwrites and hosts the camp for as many as 15 children.
“I’ve learned so much by being a Katie’s Krops grower,” Madi says. “ At Camp, I learned
about growing techniques, how to handle food and food safety, and we all did a service project
together. It was great making new friends.”
The straight A student loves science and dreams of being a marine biologist. She admits
she probably will never become a master gardener but says her love for growing a garden
will always be part of her life.
“I feel I’m a better person because of my garden,” she says. “You learn a lot and I’m proud
that I can help someone else – someone who needs to be reminded that there is someone
Madi proclaims that she is a Christian. She says that Jesus is her Savior and that studying the
Bible and going to church regularly is part of her life. She and her family see helping BCH’s children as pleasing to God and an important part of their overall Christian service.
“When I study my Bible,” she says, “I enjoy learning what it says about gardens. My favorite
verse is Isaiah 58:11, ‘The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.’”
Learn more about the mission of Katie’s Krops here. The once-a-year grant awards are made to qualifying youth ages 9-16. Applications are available in October. The 2015 grant cycle has closed.