December 22, 2011

Director of Ag, Bonnie Plants Recognize California, Mo. 4th Grader for Growing Giant Cabbage

Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler visited California Elementary School this morning to recognize one young lady for her green-thumb and gardening success. Amber Trachsel was announced the winner of the annual Bonnie Plants Cabbage Growing Contest during a school-wide assembly, and congratulated by a team from Bonnie Plants, her fellow students and school administrators.

"Gardening is an excellent way to connect young people to the soil, to where their food comes from and to instill in each of them an appreciation for the hardworking men and women who produce the fresh fruits, vegetables and other foods we all enjoy," said Dr. Hagler. "We congratulate Amber on participating and being chosen this year as Missouri's winner. And we thank everyone at Bonnie Plants and in our schools for their efforts to support this program now and for years to come."

In 2002, Bonnie Plants launched the 3rd Grade Cabbage Program with the mission to inspire a love of vegetable gardening in young people. The company now distributes more than one million free cabbage plants to third grade classrooms each year, and has delivered nearly 11 million cabbage plants to schools throughout the U.S. since the program began.

Amber planted her cabbage May 4, and harvested it in July. At harvest, her cabbage weighed 36 pounds. In comparison, most cabbages sold in grocery stores weigh only a few pounds, depending on the variety.

The California, Mo. fourth grade student received a Mega Cabbage plant at the end of third grade while participating in the Bonnie Plants Cabbage Contest with her class. After students participating in the program harvest their cabbages, teachers are asked to submit one class winner. Class winners are then entered into a random drawing held by the state Director of Agriculture. Amber was nominated by her third grade teacher, Mrs. Hendrickson.

In addition to the recognition this morning, Amber also received a $1,000 scholarship from Bonnie Plants to use to continue her education beyond grade school.

"The joy of gardening and the satisfaction of growing healthy food are gifts that kids never outgrow," says Stan Cope, President and CEO of Bonnie Plants and grandson of founders Livingston and ‘Miss Bonnie' Paulk. "We're grateful for the opportunity to share these gifts with the next generation of gardeners."

This is Dr. Hagler's third year joining Bonnie Plants and Missouri's elementary schools in bringing gardening into classrooms through the Bonnie Plants Cabbage Contest. The previous Missouri winners have represented elementary schools in Arnold and Boonville.

Photos of other award-winning cabbages are available on the contest website. For more information on the Missouri Department of Agriculture and its programs, visit

Note: Photos from the presentation are available on the Missouri Department of Agriculture Flickr page at