Giant cabbage earns Snohomish girl $1,000 savings bond

The average cabbage goes for about 99 cents a pound.

Ten-year-old Kelli Lachapelle fetched $20.53 a pound for hers. All 48.7 pounds of it.

That’s right, she got $1,000 for a cabbage.

What’s up with that?

She’s the cabbage patch girl of Washington.

A national plant company awarded her the state title and a $1,000 savings bond for her giant leafy orb. She will be honored with a keepsake oversized check on Friday at an assembly at Riverview Elementary School in Snohomish.

The program, hosted by Alabama-based Bonnie Plants, gives third graders cabbage seeds to get them enamored with gardening. What better way than with a seed bred for super-sized slaw?

Kelli, now in fourth grade, grew the cabbage last year as a school take-home project.

“It was a seed in a black container,” she said. “I took the wrapping off and put it in dirt.”

She nurtured it for four months with the essentials: Chicken poop. Tarp. Night light. TLC.

“I watered it twice a day,” Kelli said. “I put a little Epsom salt on it.”

And she wore her “The cabbage ate my homework” T-shirt to bed every night.

“She was bound and determined,” said her mom, Jennifer. “She told her dad, ‘We are going to win this.’”

Chicken poop and positive vibes proved to be quite nurturing.

“Every day it grew a little bit more,” Kelli said.

By the end of June, the cabbage was as big as a beanbag chair. The heat was starting to take a toll, so it was time for the hefty harvest.

How’d she weigh such a blob?

That’s where it helps to have a big, strong dad.

“We put the cabbage in a fishing net and then he put it on the scale,” Kelli said.

“I didn’t know how else to do it,” said her dad, Bart. “We couldn’t take it to the post office to weigh.”

How’d it taste?

Kelli and her two older sisters opted not to try a bite from the specimen that looked more sci-fi-ish than side-dish-ish.

Dad stepped up to the plate. “I made cole slaw out of a chunk of it,” he said. “You can only eat so much cabbage.”

Into the coop it went, much to the delight of the 10 chickens. They nibbled on the gargantuan treat all summer.

Kelli and her dad have this big thing going on. They like to grow humongous pumpkins and monster sunflowers on their 3-acre farm.

Washington is fertile ground for the task, but the hotbed of freakish veggies is in Alaska due to the long summer sun. An 11-year-old boy’s cabbage tipped the scale at 92 pounds at the Alaska State Fair two years ago. An Alaskan man’s cabbage weighing in at 138.25 pounds set the Guinness World Records in 2012.

In the Bonnie Plants competition, winning cabbages are not based on weight alone, said spokeswoman Joan Casanova.

“Teachers pick a winner,” she said. “It is based on size and beauty. Out of the ‘best in class’ is a random selection by the state agriculture department.”

A $1,000 scholarship is given to a student in each participating state.

The seed program, launched nationally in 2002, does more than grow crazy cabbages.

“It grows the next generation of gardeners,” Casanova said. “It engages them in agriculture and teaches the basics of gardening. They learn how to garden and where food comes from. It doesn’t come from a grocery store.”

Kelli was notified a few weeks ago of the Washington title.

She said her dad did the chicken dance.Andrea Brown at 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @reporterbrown.

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