Growing kids’ interest in Ag
||Emma King, a fourth grader from Arab, was the
winner of the 2006 Bonnie Cabbage Program with her entry of a 12.5-pound cabbage
By Grace Smith
Over the last 150 years, agriculture has changed drastically. Most of you probably had a parent or grandparent who was directly involved in production agriculture. But over time, the predominately agricultural world has evolved into a society where less than two percent of the population feeds the entire world. With that drastic transition, each generation has become less aware of the occupation that is the foundation of our livelihood – farming.
Most agricultural companies are aware of this lack of knowledge and recently one Alabama-based company has stepped up and begun reaching out to our younger generations to teach them about the industry. Bonnie Plants, based in Union Springs, began its Cabbage Program about three years ago to help children learn more about agriculture and farming.
"The purpose of the program is to involve small kids in understanding where their food comes from," said Ellis Ingram, Cabbage Program director.
Bonnie Plants sales associates began distributing cabbages to kids in 2001. The program has grown across the U.S. to include the 48 contiguous states. In 2005, they added a presentation of a $1,000 Series I savings bond to the winner of the competition in each state.
"Bonnie Plants’ Cabbage Program is a great way to get kids interested in agriculture," Ron Sparks, Commissioner of Agriculture, said. "Not only does it provide a great educational resource for the kids of Alabama and help them plan for their future education, the kids really enjoy growing their cabbages and competing for the scholarship."
|Pictured are: (back row l-r) Buddy Jordan, Bonnie Plant Farm Sales Associate, Commissioner Ron Sparks, Ellis Ingram, Director of the Bonnie Plant Farm Cabbage Program, and (front row) sisters Amber and Emma King.
Ingram said a winner is selected by the teacher of each participating class. Then each state selects a respective winner by submitting those names into a random drawing. Alabama’s winner this year was Emma King, a fourth grader from Arab who grew a 12.5-pound cabbage.
Emma said she planted it in her grandparents’ garden and her father, grandparents and twin sister, Amber, who also won her class’s competition, helped her grow the oversize cabbage.
The program is aimed specifically for third grade students, so King can’t participate again next year, although she’d like to. But she’s excited about continuing to grow plants in her grandparents’ garden and she said she’d like to plant sunflowers next.
When she’s not growing plants, King enjoys other activities like soccer, softball and spending time with her grandparents, which many times includes a trip to the Marshall Farmers Co-op at Arab.
Brian Keith, Co-op manager, said he’s been doing business with King’s grandfather, Lyle King, a local cattle producer, for as long as he’s been working at the store.
"He’s a really good guy," Keith said. "One day his wife even fixed lunch and brought it up to the store for all of us. He’s just really easy to get a long with."
The Third Grade Cabbage Program is free to all third graders and schools who sign up. Once a teacher enrolls the class in the program, Bonnie Plants will contact the school and deliver the number of plants requested. For more information, visit: http://www. bonnieplants.com and click on the tab for the Third Grade Cabbage Program, or call Program Director Ellis Ingram at (334) 738-3104.
Grace Smith is an AFC management services trainee.