KNAPPA - A Knappa fourth-grader is reaping the rewards of a three-pound cabbage, but she's not eating the leafy green globe she planted last spring.

Madilynn Newcomb harvested a $1,000 scholarship at a school assembly Wednesday morning as one of 30 winners selected from participants in a program led by Bonnie Plant Farm, the country's largest vegetable wholesaler.

More than 1,200 students participated in the 2005 Third Grade Cabbage Program, aimed to advance and promote children's gardening. Scholarship winners were randomly selected from participating states.

State Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, presented Newcomb with her award on behalf of the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

Last year, Newcomb and her third-grade classmates received free oversized cabbage plants, capable of growing heads bigger than basketballs and weighing up to 40 pounds, to plant at home and tend for 10 weeks.

The third-grade students represented an age group that's good for promoting gardening, said Keith Pugh, customer relations director at Alabama-based Bonnie Plant Farm.

"They're old enough to do a little work in the garden, but young enough to be interested in it," Pugh said.

Hilda Lahti Elementary School third-grade teacher Helene Fremstad said the company delivered the plants in spring 2005, and it provided information on how students should care for them using water, fertilizer and pest control. She said the fun opportunity built on previous science assignments, which included studying basic cell construction and learning about plant growth from a state forestry department representative.

"It was a nice culminating activity for the kids," Fremstad said, noting that children could grow the cabbages in the ground or in pots. "And we're rural, so many children's families have gardens."

Newcomb put her cabbage plant in the ground after school with her baby-sitter.

Her grandfather, Sam Reeves, helped her to grow tomatoes and flowers in the past.

"He's basically my helper in gardening," Newcomb said. "But we watered the cabbage more than we watered the flowers.

"I learned it takes a lot of love and care and patience to grow these things."


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