Monday, October 19, 2009

Giant Leafy Lessons: Colossal Cabbage Contest reaps huge yields!

The national Bonnie Plants cabbage-growing program illustrates the best form of teaching… making learning fun and engaging. It provides third grade students enjoyable lessons on plants, patience and perseverance as they attempt to grow the biggest cabbage in their state.

Students across the country, participating in the Bonnie Plants Third Grade Cabbage Program, receive a free Bonnie O.S. Cross- an “oversized” cabbage plant- to cultivate, nurture and grow. The cabbages often grow bigger than a basketball and can weigh up to 50 pounds.

At the end of the 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 included in a statewide drawing to receive a $1,000 scholarship towards education. The winner of each statewide drawing is chosen by the Commission of Agriculture, state to state, in a random drawing.

Last year, 1.5 million students participated in 45 states.

“The cabbage program is our way of sharing our love of gardening with children,” said Dennis Thomas, of Bonnie Plants. “Because we believe so deeply in the joy and peace gardening can bring to the soul, we want to afford the opportunity to children to experience this same joy and sense of accomplishment.” “We also want to do our part in supporting education”.

Getting It Growing: Growing a colossal cabbage may seem like a giant undertaking for little kids, but it’s easier than you think.

All you need is:

*Sunshine: Cabbages need at least 6 hours of full sunlight per day- more if possible.

*Space: The Bonnie OS Cabbages need at least three feet on each side to spread out.

*Soil: Some compost should be worked into the soil- cabbages love nutrient rich soil.

*Food: An all-purpose vegetable plant food will provide a good start for the cabbage. Then feed every 10 days to keep it growing strong and healthy.

*Water: Cabbage needs at least an inch of rainfall each week. No rain? A watering can or garden hose will give the plant the water it needs.

*TLC: Weeds must be kept out of the cabbage patch. They compete for food and water the cabbage needs to grow. Brown or white moths are also unwanted guests- they come from worms that love to munch on cabbage.

*Time: In 10-12 weeks, children should have a huge head of cabbage.

Green thumbs can pay off, providing participating children with pride, a humongous cabbage, and for the lucky state winner- the beginning of an educational fund for college. To see the 2009 winners and learn more about the 2010 contest, visit

Rave Reviews

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

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 program is a wonderful way to get kids interested in agriculture, and it teaches them not only the basics of biology, but the importance of our food and fiber systems as well. We're grateful to the folks at Bonnie Plants for making this scholarship available to Tennessee students.
Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner, Ken Givens

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

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