Growing to give: Teen’s produce goes to PC food pantry

Messenger photo by Kristy Zurbrick Josiah Grimm tends a quarter-acre garden from which he donates hundreds of pounds of produce to the Plain City Food Pantry.
Messenger photo by Kristy Zurbrick
Josiah Grimm tends a quarter-acre garden from which he donates hundreds of pounds of produce to the Plain City Food Pantry.

(Posted Aug. 6, 2014)

By Kristy Zurbrick , Madison Editor

Josiah Grimm, 15, is the kind of kid who pores over seed catalogues and loves family vacations that include trips to seed companies and plant nurseries.

He’s also the kind of kid who knows how to give back to the community.

For the second summer in a row, Grimm is growing produce and donating it to the Plain City Food Pantry. Last year, his garden, located at his family’s home in northern Madison County, yielded 249 pounds of produce for the pantry. This year, the garden is twice as big.

Grimm’s decision to create a garden to feed the hungry came after his father heard about a program called “Katie’s Krops.” The founder is a young girl from South Carolina who encourages other young people to start vegetable gardens and donate their harvests.

“Her school did a seed program in third grade. She took home a cabbage plant, and it grew into a 40-pound cabbage. She donated it to a soup kitchen. After she saw how many people she could feed with one cabbage, she created Katie’s Krops,” Grimm said. “Her goal is to get a garden in every state to fight hunger.”

Katie’s Krops offers grants to help participants get their gardens off the ground—or “in” the ground, as the case may be. Grimm received a $400 grant last year and a $500 grant this year. He used the money to buy seeds, plant starts, hand tools and a tiller. He also received a camera.

“You’re supposed to record how your garden is doing and send pictures to Katie to post online,” Grimm said.

The grant also requires growers to keep track of the pounds of produce they donate and the number of volunteer hours spent in the garden, both by the grower and by other volunteers they recruit.

Even before signing up with Katie’s Krops, Grimm knew his way around a garden. He and his siblings have grown produce for sale at the Plain City Farmers Market and one year sold bags of vegetables to their father’s co-workers in a community supported agriculture format. Grimm also serves as CEO of Golden Yoke Farm, an operation featuring 80 laying hens. His co-owners are his brother, Joel, and sister, Julia. His older brother, Josh, is “retired” from the business. Grimm also has worked at Cooley’s Greenhouse.

“I draw out a plan and figure out the number of plants and seeds I need,” he said of how he gets started each spring.

Potatoes are Grimm’s favorite crop to grow. This year, he’s growing regular potatoes, sweet potatoes and fingerling potatoes. He also planted radishes, lettuce, beets, broccoli, cabbage, sweet corn, onions, tomatoes and peppers. A couple of weeks into July, he had already donated 50 pounds of early crops to the food pantry.

“They seem to really appreciate it,” he said.

“Everybody enjoys the fresh vegetables,” said Ray Meister, president and CEO of the Plain City Food Pantry. The pantry feeds an average of 240 families each month, and the produce goes a long way toward helping make that happen, he said.

Grimm’s success has caught the attention of the Katie’s Krops organizers. Twice he has been one of 12 growers from across the United States selected to attend the Katie’s Krops camp held annually in South Carolina. This year, he was a speaker at the camp, where he also learned about composting, irrigation, starting seeds and agriculture careers. He said he plans to continue growing and donating produce for years to come.

Grimm is homeschooled. Starting this fall, he is enrolled in the sports turf and landscape management program at Tolles Career and Technical Center in Plain City. He is the son of John and Julie Grimm.

To learn more about Katie’s Krops, go to www.katieskrops.com. To reach Josiah Grimm, email josiahgrimm@gmail.com or call (614) 873-3816.

The Plain City Food Pantry’s hours are 9 a.m.-noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday and 10 a.m.-noon Saturday. The pantry is located at 156 W. Main St. For details, call (614) 733-0909.

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