“When I heard I had won, I was like, ‘WAAAA! I must call Mr. Reed,” said Marissa Ormand, winner of Bonnie Plants’ 3rd Grade Cabbage Program.
On Tuesday, Dec. 10, Marissa, her parents, grandparents, teachers and the neighbor who helped her grow the almost 40-lb., gorgeously leafed out, contest-winning cabbage came to Julia Randall Elementary School to watch Marissa receive a $1,000 scholarship from the Bonnie Plants company.
“Well, I want to thank Mr. Reed for helping me grow it in his garden… and… well, thank you,” said the bashful fourth-grader.
Every spring, Bonnie Plants gives out Mega Cabbage plants for each third-grade student who wishes to participate in the program. Bonnie also provides instructions to the young gardeners on how to grow the best cabbage possible.
Once the growing season ends, the students take a picture with their cabbages. Each class picks one student’s picture to send to Bonnie.
Bonnie relies on each state’s agricultural department to pick a winner, and awards one scholarship in each state.
Bonnie tells the students weight does not determine the winner. The look and creativity of the photo go into the judging mix. Bonnie suggests students not remove the leaves since the huge leaves add to the impressiveness of the cabbage.
Marissa decided to take her picture with a yardstick and the cabbage completely leafed out. She did a great job showing off the massive size of her cabbage.
Marissa’s grandmother, Barbara Underwood, said Marissa knew exactly where to plant the cabbage.
“Whenever the grandkids come to visit, they go next door to his (Reed’s) house,” said Underwood. “He has strawberries, tomatoes and chickens — it’s like going on a field trip for them.”
Reed said he was surprised and very proud of Marissa, but he also admitted he has a garden with superior soil.
“I brought in soil from Taylor, it has lots of sand, in fact, too much sand. So I went to Plant Fair and got their bulk mulch,” he said.
He also adds a special soil mix with a symbiotic fungus that helps plants to take up more moisture. Marissa was a very conscientious gardener. She watered her cabbage every day and he took over whenever she went on a trip.
The group effort worked. Marissa said when she harvested the cabbage, it “took up the whole wheelbarrow!”
Although Marissa and her parents have moved to Pinetop, she wanted to have the award ceremony at Julia Randall Elementary, her old alma mater.
As she took her giant check, the third-graders whispered to each other that they couldn’t wait to grow their own award-winning cabbage.