It’s hard to resist the call of eggshells and apple cores when you’re visiting a different farm every day, but compost hangovers can make for a lousy day of being a dog. Such is the life of Kimberly Korndog, the nine-year-old golden retriever who accompanies local farming consultant and Crop-Up founder Elizabeth Beak on her daily visits to public schools and community garden projects.
Beak acquired Kimberly in 2007 while living in Sonoma County, California, to assist her in her farming outreach efforts at schools. Trained to open doors and turn on lights as an assistance dog for disabled people, Kimberly’s loving nature adapted well to hordes of children swarming around her.
During a typical week here in Charleston, Kimberly may tag along to a pilot gardening project at a dead-end on Romney Street, then work with Meeting Street Academy students in the GrowFood Carolina Garden, where the children lovingly call her “Miss Kim” as they braid her blonde hair. Weekends often find the duo in the mountains for hiking trips (Kimberly even carries her own supplies in her canine backpack) or hitting the water around Charleston on their stand-up paddleboard.
And even though Beak has made an effort not to get Kimberly hooked on real corn or other vegetables (she doesn’t want her begging while they’re at work in a garden), it requires a sharp eye to keep the Korndog away when a fresh compost pile gets turned over. “Miss Kim is getting in the compost!” is a frequently heard phrase when they visit school gardens. “It’s the only bad thing she does,” says Beak.