SANFORD, Maine — Before an assembly of Margaret Chase Smith School students, Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb announced the 2013 Maine winner of the Bonnie Plants 3rd Grade Cabbage Program, Justin Kennedy.
Justin received a $1,000 scholarship for growing a 19-pound cabbage as part of Bonnie Plant’s annual nationwide contest.
Speaking to a gathering of students, teachers and parents, Commissioner Whitcomb stressed the importance of healthy, locally grown foods and the people who grow them, including Justin Kennedy. “School programs like the Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program help foster interest in agriculture at an early age and the importance of knowing how food is produced,” said Commissioner Whitcomb, according to a press release. “Justin and the other participating students throughout Maine are helping build awareness and support for gardening and healthy, local food production.”
Gov. Paul R. LePage was equally enthusiastic in his praise for school programs that promote personal responsibility, accomplishment and the confidence that come from seeing a successful project from start to finish.
“Growing a 19-pound cabbage requires skills and perseverance that will serve Justin well in the years ahead,” said LePage, according to a press release. “If Maine agriculture is to continue to grow and prosper, it will need to attract new farmers from today’s classrooms.”
In 2002, Bonnie Plants started the 3rd Grade Cabbage Program with a mission to inspire a love of vegetable gardening in young people. Each year, Bonnie Plants distributes more than one million free cabbage plants to 3rd Grade classrooms across the country. As part of the program, Bonnie Plants awards a $1,000 scholarship to one student in each state. Teachers submit a class winner and a child is chosen via random drawing by each state’s Director of Agriculture.
As one of the first companies to sponsor a national vegetable gardening initiative for kids, Bonnie Plants has delivered over 11 million cabbage plants nationwide, fostering an interest in gardening, healthy eating and the environment along the way. For more information on Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program:http://bonniecabbageprogram.com/about/