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Yamilet Montalvo

Yamilet Montalvo of North Butler Elementary School in Allison grew a 24.4-pound cabbage as part of the National Bonnie Plants Third Grade Cabbage Program.

WATERLOO – A third-grader from Allison reaped the rewards from her summer gardening endeavors.

Yamilet Montalvo of North Butler Elementary School in Allison grew a 24.4-pound cabbage as part of the National Bonnie Plants Third Grade Cabbage Program.

Her winnings include a $1,000 saving bond toward education from Bonnie Plants and entry into a drawing by Iowa’s agriculture department.

At the end of the growing season, teachers from participating third-grade classes select the student who has grown the best cabbage based on size and appearance. That student’s name is then entered in a statewide drawing. State winners are randomly selected by the office of the Commission of Agriculture. There were 62 rural Northeast Iowa elementary schools that participated.

This year, more than 1 million third-graders in 48 states have gotten hands-on gardening experience, growing colossal cabbages with high hopes to win “best in state”

Each year Bonnie Plants, a vegetable and herb producer, trucks free O.S. Cross, or “oversized,” cabbage plants to third-grade classrooms whose teachers have signed up for the program.

Kids can cultivate, nurture and grow giant cabbages, some much bigger than a basketball, often tipping the scales at more than 40 pounds.

In 1996 Bonnie Plants initiated the 3rd Grade Cabbage Program in and around its headquarters in Union Springs, Ala., with a mission to inspire a love of vegetable gardening in young people and continue to “grow” our next generation of gardeners.

Why a cabbage? Coincidentally, cabbages were the first profitable plant sold by Bonnie Plants in 1918, and are known to be a hearty vegetable.

Third grade teachers can sign up for the program at https://bonniecabbageprogram.com/register.

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