- Associated Press - Friday, October 14, 2016

OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) - While most kids fear eating vegetables at the dinner table, third-grader Simon Roberts went in a different direction and faced the challenge of growing a cabbage plant nearly as big as he is.

The East Smiths Station Elementary School student recently received the honor of being named the National Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program’s Alabama state winner after growing a large cabbage plant that weighed 27.3 pounds.

Roberts was randomly selected by the Alabama Agriculture Department as the state winner and received a $1,000 saving bond toward education from Bonnie Plants, which is based in Union Springs.

Each year Bonnie Plants, the largest producer of vegetable and herb plants in North America with 80 growing facilities across the country, trucks free “oversized” cabbage plants to third grade classrooms whose teachers have signed up for the program online at bonnieplants.com, according to a press release from Green Earth Media Group.

There were 37,423 Alabama third graders who participated in the program, according to Joan Casanova of the Green Earth Media Group.

It took Roberts two months to grow the plant.

“I liked watching it grow big when I watered it,” Roberts said.

The third-grader has grown other types of plants in the past, including flowers, and said he hopes to continue gardening.

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. That student’s name is then entered in a statewide drawing, according to a press release from Green Earth Media Group.

“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 our own”, said Stan Cope, president of Bonnie Plants.



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