SNOHOMISH – When Jacob Bailey grew a cabbage that tipped the scales at nearly 30 pounds, he was sowing the seeds for his college education.
Bailey, now a fourth-grader at his parish school, St. Michael in Snohomish, was selected as the state winner of a $1,000 savings bond in the Bonnie Plants Third Grade Cabbage Program.
“I thought it was really cool. It was exciting,” 9-year-old Jacob said. His cabbage, grown from a seedling, was “pretty big,” he said. “I thought I had a good chance of winning.”
Jacob and his classmates received cabbage seedlings in the spring of 2019 from their teacher, Mary Anne Murphy, as part of Bonnie’s program. More than 1 million third graders across the country participated, including more than 20,000 from Washington state, said Joan Casanova, a spokeswoman for the Alabama-based company.
The third-graders cultivate the “O.S. Cross” variety, which can grow bigger than a basketball and weigh more than 40 pounds, according to the company.
Jacob, who is an altar server at St. Michael’s, said he has gardened “since I was a little kid.” He has grown blueberries at home in Snohomish and corn at his grandmother’s house, where he planted and cultivated his cabbage seedling. When it came time to harvest, Jacob’s dad, Todd Bailey, used a pitchfork to carry the big cabbage into the house to weigh it on a bathroom scale. The result was 29.2 pounds.
“His [cabbage] was enormous and beautiful,” said Murphy, who now teaches fourth grade.
The program not only teaches students about agriculture and the importance of growing their own food, but it also instills a sense of responsibility and helps bring families together, according to Casanova. “It teaches lots of life lessons,” she said.
Each teacher chose the best cabbage grown by their students and submitted a digital image to Bonnie Plants. The photos were forwarded to the Washington State Department of Agriculture, which randomly selected Jacob’s cabbage as the winner.
In March, Bonnie Plants officials will present Jacob with a savings bond, which Casanova said should double if Jacob holds onto it until he enters college.