W.B. Simpson student takes home green with his cabbage

From left, Bonnie Plants’ Trish Drury presented Delaware’s Cabbage Program State Winner Latrell McGinnis with a check and W.B. Simpson principal Ms. Martin with a plaque recently. (Submitted photos)

DOVER — W.B. Simpson Elementary School fourth-grader Latrell McGinnis spent last spring tending to his cabbage in hopes of growing the best-looking cabbage in Delaware. After all the judging was completed, Latrell’s hard work paid off when he was announced as the state winner during a presentation at his school recently.

More than 1,300 third-grade classes in 300 elementary schools in Delaware participated in the 2019 Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program. Each teacher selects the best-looking cabbage and submits a photograph with the student and their cabbage for judging to Bonnie Plants. Judges are looking for the best cabbage based on size and appearance, not just on how big it gets. They take a close look at the leaves for damage, look for head splits and flowering stalks. Once the national judges select the top finalists, the Delaware Department of Agriculture randomly selects the state winner.

Regional Bonnie Plants’ Station Office Manager Trish Drury presented Latrell with a $1,000 check in front of all the third- and fourth-grade classes at W.B. Simpson Elementary. He also received a certificate, shirt, the book, “Katie’s Cabbage,” and a Delaware Grown hat. School principal Jennifer Martin received a plaque to hang in the school.

When asked by his principal if he was going to Disney now to celebrate? Latrell replied, “No, I will be putting my check into savings so one day I can buy a car when I am old enough to drive.”

Delaware state winner Latrell McGinnis with his prized cabbage that weighed in at 8 pounds, 4 ounces.

Started in 1996, Bonnie Plants started the Third Grade Cabbage Program to inspire a love of vegetable gardening in young people so that children can learn with their food comes from and engage them in gardening as a hobby. By 2002, the program grew to the 48 contiguous states. The company has trucked free O.S. Cross, “oversized” cabbage plants across the country and has delivered over 18 million plants since this program began.

Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Chief of Community Relations Stacey Hofmann praised Latrell for his hard work.

“It’s not easy to grow a cabbage when you are faced with pests that want a chance to eat that cabbage more than you do. It also takes a lot of hard work and persistence to keep the area weed free, maintain soil health and fertilizing, and not overwatering cabbage,” she said.

When asked if he had any issues growing his cabbage, Latrell responded that he had one snail and one caterpillar trying to eat his cabbage, but he removed them before they could do much damage. He also encouraged third graders looking for tips to make sure to water their cabbage, but only until the soil is just feeling wet. A cabbage only needs 1 inch of water or rainfall a week.

Third-grade teachers interested in having their class participate in the program can register online at https://bonniecabbageprogram.com.