Kathy and Leo Dean: generous ‘gardeners’ with a passion for philanthropy

2022 Amaizing Sweet Corn Glean-A-Thon & Festival

Kathy and Leo Dean: generous 'gardeners' with a passion for philanthropy

Although she won't call it a farm, this 9,999-square-foot garden bears fruits and vegetables that nourish people experiencing homelessness and food insecurity

Kathy Dean is not a farmer. She is quick to say that while she married into a whole family of farmers, she and her husband, Leo, are not farmers. But Kathy is clearly passionate about providing nourishing food for people who cannot afford it.

For the past 13 years, Kathy has been growing a 9,999-square-foot garden and donating the produce to Uplift, a mobile street outreach program that seeks to care for homeless people in Kansas City.

She said the only thing she sells from her garden is the tomatoes. She sells the tomatoes for $1 a pound and donates that money to Uplift. What a remarkable grower!

In addition to her garden, Kathy also grows sweet corn. Originally, her idea was to grow 33 acres of sweet corn, and at harvest time, open the fields and invite people to come and pick and enjoy homegrown sweet corn. At that point, she didn’t really know how much sweet corn can be grown on an acre, and when she found out that one acre can produce 20,000 ears of sweet corn, she changed her mind and started with two acres of sweet corn. Even that was more than she could give away, so she now grows a half acre.

Kathy started working with After the Harvest five years ago. She said she’s glad to work with us because “so much food is wasted and ATH is willing to work and get it picked and delivered where it’s needed most.” This is important to her because she knows that nourishing food is not affordable to many people.

When she heard about our Amaizing Sweet Corn Glean-a-Thon & Festival, Kathy said she was excited to participate “because it sounds like so much fun, and it will get more people involved who might not get the chance to pick sweet corn otherwise.”

Kathy always encourages people who are picking the sweet corn to stop, pick an ear, peel back the husk and take a bite. They’re always surprised how good it tastes – right off the stalk!