RED BAY — In case you’ve ever wondered, a 25-pound head of cabbage that’s more than a foot and a half wide can make enough slaw to feed four people for nearly a month, according to 9-year-old Lydia Morphis.
Morphis, a third-grade student at Red Bay Elementary School, grew her award-winning cabbage through a national program that aims to educate children on the importance of food systems.
More than 33,000 third-graders in the state participated in the program, but it was Morphis’ cabbage that was chosen as “best in state” by the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries.
In addition to bragging rights, Morphis received a $1,000 savings bond to go toward her education.
“I didn’t really know how big (the cabbage) was going to get,” Morphis said. “I didn’t think it was going to grow that big. I was surprised to hear that I won.”
She said the hardest part about growing the vegetable was making sure bugs kept their distance.
Her hard work paid off, and Morphis said she, her mother and grandparents reaped the rewards.
“We made slaw and boiled cabbage — we ate the whole thing,” she said. “It lasted about a month.”
This year, 1.5 million third-graders across 48 states took part in the National Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program, which trucks free “oversized” cabbage plants to participating classrooms, according to a Green Earth Media Group news release. Some cabbages have grown to weigh more than 40 pounds.
Morphis’ mother, Lynn Quinn, said Morphis’ cabbage was grown in Quinn’s father’s backyard.
“We have a garden, but we knew this was supposed to be a large cabbage, so we took it to my dad’s,” Quinn said. “We had looked at pictures in the pamphlet that was sent home and it showed an infant sitting next to the head of the cabbage, and the cabbage was bigger (than the baby). We didn’t really believe that.”
But after her daughter’s cabbage got so big that she couldn’t hold it upright for a photo, Quinn said the pamphlet began to make more sense.
“Lydia couldn’t hold (the cabbage) by herself — we had to prop it up on a bucket,” Quinn said. “I was just at a loss for words. We hoped but never really thought she would win. (I do feel) a sense of pride.”
Morphis’ teacher, Pam Ozbirn, said the elementary school has been involved with the cabbage program for several years.
“It’s a great program that provides our students with a hands-on education,” she said. “The students really seem to enjoy the feeling of accomplishment they get after growing their own plant.
“Lydia is a wonderful student, and she’s very deserving of this award.”
Hannah Mask can be reached at 256-740-5728 or hannah.mask@TimesDaily.com.