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November 22, 2011 (San Diego’s East County)--Its easy going and growing green with the National Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program.  Kids across America are learning to garden and some are earning a lot of “green” participating in Bonnie’s Cabbage Program.

This season, more than 1.5 million third graders in 48 states dug in and got hands-on gardening experience growing colossal cabbages, reaping hefty harvests and holding high hopes to win “best in state” and receive a $1,000 scholarship towards education from Bonnie Plants.
Each year Bonnie Plants, the largest producer of vegetable and herb plants in North America, with 75 growing stations across the country, trucks free O.S. Cross, or "oversized," cabbage plants to third grade classrooms whose teachers have signed up for the program online If nurtured and cared for, kids can grow green, giant cabbages, some tipping the scales at 40 pounds!

First launched in 2002, the program awards a $1,000 scholarship to one student in each participating state. At the end of the growing season, teachers from each class select the student who has grown the “best” cabbage, based on size and appearance. A picture of the cabbage and the student entry is submitted to Bonnie Plants by mail or online. That student's name is then entered in a statewide drawing. The winners of each state’s drawing are randomly selected by the Commission of Agriculture’s office, state by state.
    “The Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program is a wonderful way to engage children’s
     interest in agriculture, while teaching them not only the basics of gardening, but
     the importance of our food systems and growing our own”, said Stan Cope,
     President of Bonnie Plants. This unique, innovative program exposes children to
     agriculture and demonstrates, through hands-on experience, where food comes
     from. The program also affords our youth with some valuable life lessons in
     nurture, nature, responsibility, self-confidence and accomplishment”.
     “Over the course of the past 9 years, the Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program has
     proved to be an exciting, worth-while experience that children, teachers and parents
     across the country have embraced. We're pleased and proud to provide our youth
     with this enjoyable and enriching opportunity and engage their interest in the art
     and joy of gardening”, said Cope
Why a cabbage?  Cabbages were the first plant sold by Bonnie in 1918. The cabbages used for the 3rd grade program  are OS Cross (over-sized), which is known for producing giant, oversized heads, making the process even more exciting for kids.
  • Get It Growing: Growing a colossal cabbage may seem like a giant undertaking for little kids, but it’s easier than you think.
  • Let the sunshine in: Cabbages need at least six hours of full sunlight, more if possible.
  • Survey your space: Bonnie O.S. cabbages need at least three feet on each side to spread out. If you don’t have that much space, use a large container.
  • Supplement soil: Work some compost into the soil – cabbages love nutrient-rich soil.
  • Feed the need: Start your cabbage off right with an all-purpose vegetable fertilizer, then fertilize it every 10 days to keep it growing strong.
  • Water wisely: Your cabbage needs at least one inch of rainfall each week. If it doesn’t rain, use a watering can or a garden hose to gently water your plant.
  • Tend to trouble: Keep weeds out of the cabbage patch – they compete for the food and water your cabbage needs. Be on the lookout for brown or white moths – these come from worms that love to munch on cabbage. If you see any, get rid of them right away. Cold weather can damage your cabbage. If the weather gets below 32° F, cover your cabbage with a bucket.
  • Hefty harvest time: In just 10 to 12 weeks, you should have a humongous head of cabbage you can be proud of.

Green thumbs and perseverance can pay off, providing participating children with as great sense of pride and accomplishment, a colossal cabbage, and for the lucky state winner- the beginning of an educational fund for college. To see the 2011 winners and learn more about the 2012 contest, visit
Rave Reviews

The Third Grade Cabbage Program provides valuable lessons to students about agriculture and the way it touches everyone’s life every day. I commend Bonnie Plants for this program.
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner, Richie Farmer

This kind of activity is great because it teaches our students about the natural growth process. This year, we’re going to encourage even more teachers to participate. Lenora Richardson, Science & Social Studies Supervisor, Cabell County Schools, WV

It’s really important that our youth understand where our food comes from. I’m glad that Bonnie Plant Farm expanded its cabbage-growing program to include Kansas schools, so our students can learn about growing food while competing for scholarship money.
Kansas Secretary of Agriculture, Adrian Polansky
It’s good for the students to get out there and grow their own plants. It helps them learn about nature, soil composition and the parts of plants, but it also shows them where things come from,” she said. “So many young people take for granted the fact that we can walk into the store and buy whatever we want. It’s a good history lesson for them to learn that it wasn’t always like that, even in this country.

                                                       Melody Witt, Alto Elementary Principal, Texas 

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