There are gardens in both the front and back yards of 10-year-old Isabella Greinke’s home in Puyallup.
They moslty were used by her mother, Jenny Madrigal, until spring of last year when everyone in Greinke’s third grade class was given a cabbage plant.
After months of care, Greinke found out in January that her cabbage, which had grown to 4.6 pounds, had won her $1,000.
“I was surprised,” Greinke admitted to The Puyallup Herald in an interview. “I was just doing it for fun.”
Greinke was chosen out of more than 19,000 students in Washington state who participated in the National Bonnie Plants Third Grade Cabbage Program in 2018.
The program is hosted by Bonnie Plants, a national provider of vegetables and herbs, and started in Alabama in 1996 with “a mission to inspire a love of vegetable gardening in young people and grow our next generation of gardeners.”
Now, more than a million third graders across 48 states participate in growing their own cabbage plants every year.
Woodland Elementary School in Puyallup is one of the schools that participates. Third-grade teacher Jennifer Kovacs had Greinke as a student last year.
Greinke’s cabbage took about 10 and a half weeks to grow to its full size.
“She isn’t into gardening as much as I am, but she loved her cabbage,” Madrigal said.
Greinke took a picture of herself with her cabbage in September and submitted the photo to the Bonnie Plants program, along with the weight of the cabbage and time it took to grow it.
Greinke’s favorite part of the process was watching the cabbage grow. The secret to her success? Talking to her cabbage every day.
“I told her every single day, you’ve got to tell your cabbage you love your cabbage,” Madrigal said. “(Greinke) understands everything has a little spirit.”
After it finished growing, Greinke took a bite of it, but she didn’t like the taste.
“It took me two weeks to eat it on my own, since she didn’t have the heart to eat it,” Madrigal said.
But Greinke may have caught the gardening bug. When asked if she was going to keep gardening, she said yes. What’s left of the cabbage could still grow back.
She also wants to try growing vegetables to feed her bunny, Oreo.
“I want to grow some carrots because I have a bunny, and I wouldn’t have to go to the store and buy some,” she said.