Holy Cabbage! Third-graders can grow oversized cabbages that reach up to 40 pounds if their teachers register their class now for the free National Bonnie Plants Third Grade Cabbage Program at bonnieplants.com.
Each year, Bonnie delivers more than 1 million 2-inch cabbage plants to schools nationwide where teachers distribute them to students along with instructions on how to plant them at home and tend to them.
“The kids are astonished by their ability to grow a humongous vegetable,” said Joan Casanova, spokeswoman for Bonnie Plants, with 68 greenhouse facilities serving 48 states including New York. “The growth process of the cabbage is pretty amazing, especially to a child who is 9 or 10 years old and has never gardened before.”
The cabbage plants won’t be delivered on Long Island until May 2013, but teachers have to register now to be included in the program. By June or July, the cabbage is mature. Student take pictures of themselves with their cabbages, and then they and their families are free to eat their bounty.
In September 2013, when children return to school for fourth grade, their former teacher selects a winner from among their photos based on size and appearance. That winner is entered in the New York state contest. One winner in each state is then chosen randomly and wins $1,000. The program has run since 2002; the biggest cabbage grown so far weighed 65 pounds.
The point of the program is to teach kids gardening, so they learn where food comes from and how to eat healthfully, and to foster an interest in agriculture and gardening, Casanova said.
Pictured above: Christina Kania, the 2011 New York State winner of the National Bonnie Plants Third Grade Cabbage Program contest.