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Tracy Frank, Published March 28 2014

Fargo 10-year-old wins $1,000 for colossal cabbage

FARGO - Last summer Jada Wraalstad grew a 16-pound cabbage, and she recently won $1,000 for her efforts. The 10-year-old fourth-grader at Clara Barton-Hawthorne Elementary School in Fargo grew the cabbage as part of the national Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program.

Her teacher chose her entry to submit to the North Dakota Agriculture Department, which randomly selected Jada as the winner of a $1,000 saving bond from Bonnie Plants. There were 721 North Dakota students who participated.

Jada brought the sprouted cabbage home in a disposable cup last April and then transplanted it into a flower pot. She planted it in her backyard in mid-May where it grew until she harvested it in August.

“I thought it would be fun for the summer,” Jada said, adding that it was fun but also a lot of work.

Jada watered her plant, kept it by the sun and fertilized it with a special fertilizer her great-uncle gave her. She also had to keep her cats away from the cabbage when it was in the house, she said.

Jada’s grandma, Viola Wraalstad of Fargo, is an avid gardener and advised her granddaughter along the way.

“She did all the work,” Viola said. “I just more or less told her what had to be done.”

They made pigs in a blanket and coleslaw from the cabbage and still have some frozen. Both Jada and Viola say it was really tasty.

Viola has been gardening with her mother since she was a child.

“It gets me outside. I can get dirty. I can be out there and just be myself,” she said, adding that food always tastes better from the garden.

Jada has helped her grandma garden and can vegetables in the past and says gardening is likely something she’ll continue to do.

Paul Wraalstad, Jada’s dad, said he was surprised when his daughter won, but added that her cabbage “was pretty impressive.”

Now that Jada’s 8-year-old brother, Jagger, is a third-grader, he hopes he gets to participate in the cabbage program and says he’s going to try to grow an even bigger cabbage than his sister.

More than 1.5 million third graders in 48 states took part in last year’s program, according to a news release. Each year Bonnie Plants gives free O.S. Cross, or “oversized” cabbage plants to third grade classrooms whose teachers have signed up for the program online at www.bonnieplants.com.

“The Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program is a wonderful way to engage children’s interest in agriculture, while teaching them not only the basics of gardening, but the importance of our food systems and growing our own,” said Stan Cope, Bonnie Plants president, in a news release.

Some of the cabbages have tipped the scales at 40 pounds, the news release stated.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526