By Ed Harris
A St. Dominic School fourth grader was recently awarded a $1,000 scholarship for growing a 10 pound cabbage as part of a national program.
Last year, Vincent Rappoccio’s third grade class participated in the National Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program. The school’s entire third grade class participated in the program, which was overseen by teacher Amy Ronkese.
The program is a nation wide contest, with winners selected from each state.
“I was very surprised and excited when I found out I was the winner for Connecticut,” Vincent said. “I never thought I would. I actually forgot about the contest because I am now in the fourth grade and we submitted my entery in September 2013.”
The National Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program was launched in 2002 and awards a $1,000 scholarship to one student in each participating state. A teacher from each partaking class selects a student that they think has the best cabbage and submits a digital photo. The student is then entered into a statewide drawing. The state winners are randomly selected by the state’s Commission of Agriculture.
According to a press release on the program, more than 1.5 million third graders in 48 states participated in the program this year.
Bonnie Plants donates the cabbage plants, known as O.S. Cross, or “oversized,” to the program. If nurtured correctly, the cabbages tip the scales at over 40 pounds.
“The Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program is a wonderful way to engage children’s interest in agriculture, while teaching them not only the basics of gardening, but the importance of our food systems and growing our own,” said Stan Cope, president of Bonnie Plants, in a release. “This unique, innovative program exposes children to agriculture and demonstrates, through hands-on experience, where food comes from. The program also affords our youth with some valuable life lessons in nurture, nature, responsibility, self-confidence and accomplishment.”
Vincent’s cabbage came in at 10.7 pounds and 27 inches in diameter.
Vincent said he started growing the cabbage from a seed at school. Once the cabbage started to grow, it was brought home and eventually planted outside once it hearty enough to put in the ground.
“Since we do not have a garden at our house, we planted the cabbage at my grandfather’s house,” Vincent said.
Once it was ripe, the cabbage found itself on the Rappoccio family dinner table. The family used the cabbage to make stuffed cabbage rolls, cole slaw and cabbage salad.
Since growing the cabbage, Vincent has been bitten by the gardening bug.
“Since I had good luck growing the cabbage, I would like to try and grow something else,” he said. “It was very exciting to see such a small see turn into such a large head of cabbage.”