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Published April 08, 2011, 12:00 AM

Colossal cabbage a winner

Third-grader learns big lesson from project
Center, N.D. - Rebecca Schmidt might be the ultimate cabbage patch kid. The 10-year-old grew an enormous cabbage last summer in her grandma’s garden as part of a third-grade school growing program.

By: Heidi Shaffer, INFORUM

Center, N.D. - Rebecca Schmidt might be the ultimate cabbage patch kid. The 10-year-old grew an enormous cabbage last summer in her grandma’s garden as part of a third-grade school growing program.

The humongous head won her the North Dakota prize – a $1,000 savings bond toward education – for the National Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program.

Schmidt’s Center-Stanton Elementary class, taught by Rachael Jaeger, was one of 65 in the state that participated in the nationwide growing project.

In the spring, 1.5 million third-graders received 2-inch Oversize Cross Cabbage plants from each of Bonnie Plants’ 65 greenhouses nationwide, said Joan Casanova, spokeswoman for Bonnie Plants.

Schmidt said she never imagined her vegetable would reach its scale-tipping proportions.

Schmidt, now a fourth-grader at the school northwest of Bismarck, isn’t sure how much her cabbage weighed, but many plants in the program reach 40 pounds, Casanova said.

Jaeger, Schmidt’s third-grade teacher, has participated in the program for the past two years and said she appreciates the lessons students learn from the experience.

“I like that they have an opportunity to grown their own produce and get their hands dirty,” she said. “It teaches them about science and how things grow and the responsibility to take care of a plant.”

Bonnie Plants, the nation’s largest producer of vegetables and herbs, started the cabbage-growing program in 1995 in Union Springs, Ala., and it has grown ever since, Casanova said.

At least 12 schools in Fargo participated in the free program last year, and 2011 registration is open online for teachers at www.bonnieplants.com, Casanova said.

Schmidt’s plant was selected by the North Dakota agriculture commissioner as the state winner, which is picked at random “because oftentimes the cabbages are so huge, you can’t choose a winner,” Casanova said.

Schmidt’s statewide title isn’t the only award the leafy plant won her. She won accolades at the Oliver County Fair last year, Jaeger said.

As for the fate Schmidt’s hefty vegetable?

“We just took it home and cooked it,” she said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Heidi Shaffer at (701) 241-5511

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