COLCORD - Third grade students at Colcord Elementary are taking part in a national cabbage program sponsored by Bonnie Plant Company.

Each year the company distributes plants to students in schools nationwide.

The third grade classes of Patty Glenn and Kassy Beck took part in the program in the fall and are preparing to take part in the program again this spring. Forty-five students took home plants from the program the first time.

"We participated in the third grade cabbage program this year with Bonnie Plant Company," said Colcord third grade teacher Patty Glenn. "A company truck came and brought the plants to our school building in late March or early April. Cabbage is a cool weather plant and they have to be planted early. We sent the plants home with the students with full instructions on how to take care of the plants. We also encouraged them to take pictures of their plant."

When the plants are ready to harvest the plants are weighted and photographed and pictures are sent with the plant information. The students are in the running for a $1,000 scholarship in the statewide contest.

"We let the kids that how many they want but some don't survive or get destroyed," Glenn said. "We had two students that raised their plants to harvest and pictures were taken and sent in with the information on the size of the cabbage they raised."

Maeson Davis and Colby Jones were the two students that harvested their cabbage and entered the contest.

Davis' cabbage weighed in at 7 pounds while Jones was somewhat larger at 11.1 pounds.

Davis' mother Kyla Davis felt it helped her son learn a lot during the process.

"It taught him a lot about a number of different things. He had to learn to water it everyday," Davis said. "Plus he had to watch the weather to make sure if there were storms or high winds to protect it. He also learn to tell everyone to stay away from his cabbage plant. So he learned a little bossing skills as well. I think it was an overall great experience for him."

It turned into more than raising a cabbage plant for the students.

"I believe it taught them the responsibility of being in charge of something and following it through until the end," Glenn said. "It also taught them how to raise something with their own hands that they could eat."

Glenn said she is so pleased with the program she is planning on being a part of it again this year.

"We will definitely do it again. I sent the submissions in and we have heard nothing so far. But I believe the it is a win no matter where they are chosen or not because of the valuable lessons learned. In a few months we will begin all over again."

About the program

In 1996 Bonnie Plants initiated the 3rd Grade Cabbage Program in and around headquarters in Union Springs, Alabama, The mission was to inspire a love of vegetable gardening in young people and grow our next generation of gardeners.

By 2002 the program grew to become a national endeavor, including the 48 contiguous states. Each year, Bonnie trucks more than one million free O.S. Cross, or “oversized” cabbage plants to 3rd Grade classrooms across the country where teachers have signed up for the program.

If nurtured and cared for the students can cultivate, nurture and grow giant cabbages, some bigger than a basketball.

The program awards a $1,000 scholarship to one student in each participating state. At the end of the season, teachers from each 3rd grade participating 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 and that student’s name is then entered in a random statewide drawing.

State winners are randomly selected by the Commission of Agriculture, in each of 48 participating states.