Did you see the episode of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution where he quizzed kids on the foods that they eat (or should eat)? He held up a tomato and asked them what it was. A full class of schoolchildren couldn't identify it. Then he told them this is where ketchup comes from, and they all snapped to attention.
So thank you to Bonnie Plants and its Third Grade Cabbage program. The program teaches kids not only where their food comes from and how to garden, but life lessons in responsibility, nurturing, patience and perseverance.
Each year, Bonnie trucks more than 1 million free cabbage plants to third grade classrooms across the country. Teachers distribute plants with instructions, provided by Bonnie, to students to take home and grow. So the kids bring the parents to gardening. Brilliant!
At the end of the growing season, teachers select a class winner, based on cabbage size, appearance and maturity, and that submission is entered in a state scholarship drawing. The state winners are randomly selected by each state’s director of agriculture, and Bonnie Plants awards a $1,000 scholarship to one student in each state.
The program is free to any third grade classroom in the United States whose teacher signs up online at www.bonnieplants.com. This year more than 1.5 million kids across the country participated.
In 2002, Bonnie Plants initiated the Third Grade Cabbage Program with a mission to inspire a love of vegetable gardening in young people. Bonnie Plants has delivered nearly 11 million cabbage plants, nationwide, over the course of the past nine years, fostering an interest in gardening, healthy eating, and the environment.
“The joy of gardening and the satisfaction of growing healthy food are gifts that kids never outgrow,” says Stan Cope, president and CEO of Bonnie Plants. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to share these gifts with the next generation of gardeners.”
The cabbages used for the third grade program are OS Cross (Over-sized), which is known for producing giant, oversized heads, making the process even more exciting for kids. Some kids have grown cabbages weighing more than 50 pounds. Somebody call Jamie Oliver. These kids are going to need some help carrying those cabbages.