ELLSWORTH — They just grow up so fast — cabbage and kids, that is.
Holden Elementary School student Aidan Howe grew a giant cabbage and won himself a $1,000 savings bond from Bonnie Plants.
Aidan was one of 4,086 Maine children to participate in the National Bonnie Plants Third Grade Cabbage Program. He was randomly selected winner by the Maine Department of Agriculture.
This year, more than 1 million third-graders in the 48 contiguous states have gotten hands-on gardening experience growing colossal cabbages with high hopes to win “best in state” and receive a $1,000 scholarship toward education.
Each year, Bonnie Plants, the largest producer of vegetable and herb plants in North America, trucks free cabbage seedlings to third grade classrooms whose teachers have signed up for the program. The program, which aims to inspire a love of vegetable gardening in children, went national in 2002.
At the end of the growing season, teachers from each participating class select the student who has grown the best cabbage, based on size and appearance.
“Over the course of the past 15 years, the Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program has proved to be an exciting, successful and worth-while experience that children, teachers, parents and grandparents across the country have embraced,” said Stan Cope, president of Bonnie Plants. “We’re certainly extremely proud of our Maine state winner: Aidan Howe!”
Why a cabbage? Coincidentally, cabbages were the first profitable plant sold by Bonnie Plants in 1918, and are known to be a hearty vegetable. The cabbages provided to third graders are “O.S. Cross” cabbages; this variety is known for producing giant, oversized heads.