Missouri Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler visited Hermann Elementary School this morning to recognize one young man for his green-thumb and gardening success. Ethan Towery was announced the winner of the annual Bonnie Plants Cabbage Growing Contest during a school assembly, and congratulated by a team from Bonnie Plants, his fellow students and school administrators.
"Helping youth become involved in gardening is an excellent way to connect them to where their food comes from and to help give them a better appreciation for the hardworking people who produce the fresh fruits, vegetables and other foods we all eat on a daily basis," said Dr. Hagler. "We congratulate Ethan on participating and being selected this year as Missouri's winner. We would also like to thank everyone at Bonnie Plants and those involved in our schools for their efforts to support this program now and for years to come."
At harvest, Ethan's cabbage weighed 16.2 pounds. In comparison, most cabbages sold in grocery stores weigh only a few pounds, depending on the variety.
The Hermann, Mo. fourth grade student received a Mega Cabbage plant at the end of third grade while participating in the Bonnie Plants Cabbage Contest with his class. After students participating in the program harvest their cabbages, teachers are asked to submit one class winner. Class winners are then entered into a random drawing held by the state Director of Agriculture. Ethan was nominated by his third grade teacher, Ms. Holt.
In addition to the recognition this morning, Ethan also received a $1,000 scholarship from Bonnie Plants to use to continue his education beyond grade school.
"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 and grandson of founders Livingston and 'Miss Bonnie' Paulk. "We're grateful for the opportunity to share these gifts with the next generation of gardeners."
In 2002, Bonnie Plants launched the 3rd Grade Cabbage Program with the mission to inspire a love of vegetable gardening in young people. More than 27,000 Missouri 3rd graders participated in the program last year. The company now distributes more than one million free cabbage plants to third grade classrooms each year, and has delivered 11 million cabbage plants to schools throughout the U.S. since the program began.
This is Dr. Hagler's fourth year joining Bonnie Plants and Missouri's elementary schools in bringing gardening into classrooms through the Bonnie Plants Cabbage Contest. The previous Missouri winners have represented elementary schools in California and Arnold.