Kids grow green — cashing in cabbage

Special to The Mountaineer
By Joan Casanova | Jan 08, 2014
Photo by: Donated photo IN THE GREEN — Pictured is the North Carolina Bonnie Plants state winner,  Cassady Teague, from General Greene Elementary, in Greensboro.

Kids across America are growing, and some are earning, a lot of “green” participating in the National Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program.  This year, more than 1.5 million third graders in 48 states have gotten hands-on gardening experience growing colossal cabbages, with 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 72 stations across the country, gives free O.S. Cross, or “oversized,” cabbage plants to third grade classrooms whose teachers have signed up for the program online at

In Haywood County, children’s classes at Meadowbrook, North Canton Elementary, Bethel Elementary and Central Elementary schools have been visited about the program.

If nurtured and cared for, kids can grow green, giant cabbages, some tipping the scales at 40 pounds.

Launched nationally in 2002, the program awards a $1,000 scholarship to one student in each participating state. 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 digital image of the cabbage and student is submitted online at That student’s name is entered in a statewide drawing. State winners are randomly selected by the Commission of Agriculture, in each of 48 particpating states.

“The Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program is a  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 program exposes children to agriculture and demonstrates, through hands-on experience, where food comes from. The program also affords youth with some valuable life lessons in nurture, nature, responsibility, self-confidence and accomplishment.”

Green thumbs and perseverance can pay off, providing participating children with a sense of pride and accomplishment, a humongous cabbage and for the lucky state winner — the beginning of an educational fund for college. To see the 2013 winners and learn more about the 2014 contest, visit