HODGESVILLE — After growing a whopping 23-pound cabbage, a Hodgesville Elementary student has been picked as the West Virginia winner of The National Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program.
Brodie Triplett won the title and received a $1,000 education scholarship from Bonnie Plants after he was randomly selected by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture.
The program began in 1996 in Union Springs, Alabama, when leaders from national plant wholesaler Bonnie Plants wanted to inspire a love of gardening and grow the next generation of gardeners.
This past year, the program had reached 48 states and attracted more than 1.5 million third-graders, according to a news release.
“In 1996, Bonnie (representatives) … decided they wanted to involve children in agriculture for a lot of reasons,” said Joan Casanova, spokesperson for Bonnie Plants. They wanted to “teach kids where their food comes from,” and wanted to give lessons in gardening by having students actually plant something and nurture it to harvest.
She said the program also offers other life lessons, “like responsibility, nurturing nature and building confidence in students that they can garden and be successful.”
Each year, the company delivers 2-inch “oversized” cabbage plants to participating third-grade classrooms. Every student is given a cabbage plant to take home, along with instructions on how to care for the plant. The harvest time for the cabbages is usually between 10 to 12 weeks, and the plants can grow up to 40 pounds.
When the cabbages are harvested, students are asked to weigh them and submit photos to their teacher, who then chooses the best in class based on cabbage size and appearance.
The teacher then submits the class winner to Bonnie Plants. Once all of the “best in class” pictures are submitted in that state, Bonnie Plants gives each picture a number. That state’s commissioner of agriculture then randomly selects the winning number.
“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 their own,” said Stan Cope, president of Bonnie Plants, in a news release. “We are grateful to have the opportunity to provide our youth with this enjoyable and enriching opportunity and engage their interest in the art and joy of gardening.”
Third-grade teachers are encouraged to take advantage of the free program by visiting www.bonnieplants.com.