One 40-pound cabbage, plus one 13-year-old girl, equals one big produce story.

“Working with Non-Profits,” a keynote session set for 8:30 a.m. Aug. 14 at the Midwest Produce Conference & Expo, will headline Katie Stagliano and Don Goodwin. The two will speak about the benefits of nonprofits and what they can do for companies.

Stagliano is the creator of Katie’s Krops from Summerville, S.C. Katie’s Krops is a nonprofit organization that started when Stagliano, then 9, grew a tiny cabbage seedling into a 40 pound cabbage in her backyard.

After growing the massive cabbage, Stagliano made the decision to donate the cabbage to a local soup kitchen and ended up feeding 275 people from it. Because of this result, Stagliano wanted to grow multiple gardens and donate to those who are in need.

To date, her charity has provided seed money for 22 student gardens across the country and she has been featured in publications like People magazine and to help spread her cause.

Goodwin is the co-founder of Imagination Farms, the Disney licensee for fresh produce. He is also the president of Golden Sun Marketing, Minnetrista, Minn. Goodwin was a 2007 Packer 25 honoree and has also worked as chief operating officer of Green Giant Fresh, helped Super Target launch its fresh produce departments and consulted for other leading retailers.

His keynote speech will focus on the benefits companies can achieve by working with nonprofit organizations. Goodwin said there are many examples of produce companies who have good relationships with nonprofits.

Katie’s Krops is one of those nonprofits.

“(Yakima, Wash.-based) Opal (Apple) donates to Katie’s Krops, who then funds children’s gardens in the retailer’s local community,” Goodwin said. “The bounty from the garden is donated to the under served.”

Opal Apple and Katie’s Krops offer grants to children ages 9-16 so they can start vegetable gardens where it is needed. Those who win grants get the materials to start their vegetable garden to help people in the surrounding community.

Earlier this year, Katie’s Krops received a $20,000 donation from Yakima, Wash.-based FirstFruits Marketing of Washington. Stagliano’s goal is to have a one of these gardens in all 50 states.

Goodwin also said companies can get involved with charities just like FirstFruits Marketing did.

“Consumers are responding to cause marketing very strongly,” Goodwin said. “It’s important for companies to identify causes for which they have passion. Make the cause the story. Just don’t donate to the cause, take the opportunity to educate consumers about the need.”

After he talks, Goodwin says he is looking forward to the conference as a whole. Regional shows provide an intimacy that you don’t get elsewhere, he said.

“They provide a slower pace and more time to chat with industry players,” Goodwin said. “You can also highlight the unique nature of the Midwest.”

Shortly after Working with Non-Profits, the general session “Feeding the Locavore” will start at 9:45 a.m.

To learn more about Katie’s Krops and Stagliano’s produce cause, visit

Note: Packer Markets Editor Andy Nelson contributed to this report.