|Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program Helps Katie’s Dream Come True|
This story begins with Bonnie Plants, the largest producer of vegetable and herb plants in the nation. Bonnie is a huge player in the gardening industry. They have 61 growing stations around the U.S. and are available at "big box" stores nationwide and in 3,700 independent stores.
Bonnie is more than just a plant company. Their "Cabbage Program" is a nine-year-old endeavor—Bonnie delivers O.S. Cabbage plants to third grade school children, in an effort to engage them in the benefits and joys of gardening. Some of the cabbages they deliver to school children grow to more than 40 pounds, seemingly bigger than the children themselves.
The children learn responsibility, dedication, nurturing, gardening, eco-consciousness…and come away with a sense of pride and accomplishment from their experience with the Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program. The process is perhaps their first stab at gardening, and the payoff is extraordinary…a whole new generation engaging in the art, the benefits and the joy of growing their own food.
The Cabbage Program is an integral part of who Bonnie is, and evidences their authenticity and commitment to gardening and our next generation. In 2008, Bonnie delivered 1.5 million cabbage plants to third grade children, and they all grew the cabbages in their own backyards. 43 states participated with 43 state winners named. One child per state was awarded a $1,000 scholarship from Bonnie Plants toward their education.
Bonnie’s Cabbage Program was the inspiration and the catalyst for "Katie’s Dream," a dream that surely should be recognized and touted.
And here is Katie’s story:
One kid can make a difference and I’m living proof. I grew a cabbage that alone helped feed 275 people and my dream was born. My name is Katie Stagliano. I am 10 years old and my dream is to make sure no kid goes to bed hungry.
I received a cabbage plant from a third grade school program Bonnie Plants does in the whole United States in 2008. I was trying to grow the biggest cabbage in my state and win a $1,000 prize from Bonnie toward education. So I planted it in a garden in the corner of my house. Every day I would go out with the watering can and water it. I would fertilize the cabbage and weed around it. My family and I watched it grow massively in size. One day our neighbors told us deer had been seen in the neighborhood, so my grandfather and I took action. We decided to build a cage for it. My grandfather arrived with supplies and we went to work. At the end of the day it was done. We had four wooden posts, one in every corner, with chicken wire spread from one corner to another. It worked. No deer ate my cabbage or got anywhere near it. When my cabbage was fully grown it weighed in at an amazing 40 pounds!
I knew my cabbage was really special and it needed to find a special home. My mom contacted Fields to Families, a local organization that helps farmers get crops to organizations that feed hungry people to see where I could maybe donate my cabbage for food. They recommended we give my cabbage to Tri County Family Ministries, a local soup kitchen.
In May of 2008, we brought my cabbage to Tri County Family Ministries. When I walked in, I saw a huge line of people waiting for what might be the only meal they would have that day. The people who worked there and who were eating there were so friendly and nice. I served my cabbage I grew to the guests and they thanked me for helping to feed them. I knew I could and I should do much more to help.
That day at Tri County Family Ministries my dream was born. My dream is that there are no hungry children. I may only be 10 but I know I can do it. I found help with my dream, first from Amazing-Kids.Org. They held a ‘Launch My Dream’ t-shirt design contest. I entered and out of hundreds of entries, I won! My ‘No Hungry Children…All it takes is a seedling’ t-shirt is now on sale at www.verymeri.com with 10 percent of the sales donated to help me start gardens to feed hungry people in need.
But I didn’t stop there. I asked my school to help and they donated a huge plot of land for a garden. The whole school, kindergarten to 12th grade, is helping and part of the harvest will be donated to feed the hungry people. But I didn’t stop there either. I contacted Fields to Families and asked them if they could help. Their board of directors said ‘Yes’ and I now have a Master Gardener to work with and seeds to start my gardens. But I am not stopping there.
The General Manager of Bonnie Plants, Mr. Dennis Thomas, found out about my dream and how his Cabbage Program was the beginning of my dream. He had his people deliver a whole truck full of Bonnie vegetable and herb plants to my school in South Carolina. The entire school got involved and we planted a huge vegetable garden. We will all take care of it, and when we get vegetables and herbs they will be donated to our local soup kitchen to make meals for the hungry. I cannot believe how much has happened and how many people want to help.