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 45 states received hands-on gardening experience growing colossal cabbages with high hopes to win "best in state," and earn a $1,000 scholarship toward education from Bonnie Plants.
Each year, Bonnie Plants delivers free O.S. Cross, or "oversized," cabbage plants to third-grade classrooms nationwide, whose teachers have signed up for the program, online at www.bonnieplants.com.
If nurtured and cared for, cabbages can grow bigger than a basketball and tip the scales at nearly 40 pounds.
First launched in 1995, the program awards a $1,000 scholarship to one student in each participating state. At the end of the season, teachers from each class will 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, state by state.
"The Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program is our way of engaging children in the joy of gardening," Bonnie Plants President Stan Cope said. "Gardening provides children with a safe place to experience nature, discover the cycles of life and develop an understanding of our environment. It also exposes children, first hand, to the benefits of growing your own nutritious food and it's a great source of physical activity.
"The cabbage program, over the past 15 years, has proved to be an enriching hands-on experience that kids and teachers across America have embraced. Seeing students excited about learning and the art of gardening is what we strive for."
To see the 2010 winners and learn more about the 2011 contest, log on to www.bonnieplants.com.