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Marco Platino, a student at Clemens Crossing Elementary in Columbia, won an award in November from the Maryland Department of Agriculture for his massive cabbage.
Marco Platino, a student at Clemens Crossing Elementary in Columbia, won an award in November from the Maryland Department of Agriculture for his massive cabbage. (Risa Carlson / HANDOUT)

Last spring, Marco Platino, a student at Clemens Crossing Elementary in Columbia, grew a cabbage.

This wasn’t any ordinary grocery store cabbage. Marco’s cabbage was massive — so big, in fact, he won an award.

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In his third grade class, Marco received a small cabbage plant from Bonnie Plants, a vegetable and herbs producing company servicing North America. Since 2002, Bonnie Plants has provided cabbage plants to third graders nationwide through an annual competition.

Marco spent nearly 10 weeks last spring growing and caring for his cabbage by giving it special planter food, watering it each day and giving it medicine once a week. He planted his cabbage in a big, metal pot and then put wire mesh around it to keep the deer out, he said.

“I thought it would be fun [to plant a cabbage] and I might win, and I did,” Marco said.

Now 9 years old and a fourth grader, Marco won an award earlier this month from the Maryland Department of Agriculture for his cabbage. He will receive a $1,000 savings bond toward education from Bonnie Plants.

On winning, Marco said, “It felt really good and I was really surprised, I had forgotten about it [the competition].”

Joan Casanova, a spokeswoman for Bonnie Plants, said the company started the yearly cabbage program in 1996 and expanded it nationwide in 2002. Each year, children receive an OS Cross cabbage plant, with OS standing for oversized.

This specific cabbage plant is “bred to produce huge cabbages, upwards of 40 pounds,” Casanova said.

Although Marco never weighed his cabbage, he said it was heavy.

More than 1.5 million third graders participate in the program each year, Casanova said.

Marco did not eat any of his cabbage, but he did feed it to some of his friend’s bunnies he was petsitting.

The bunnies, who “were very voracious eaters,” enjoyed the cabbage, Marco said.

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