State ag commissioner presents student with $1,000 scholarship

Jackson Artichoker, right, a fourth-grade student at Bayfield Elementary, won the $1,000 Colorado scholarship from Bonnie Plants for the company's national cabbage program. He received the scholarship check March 21 from Chris Simpson of Bonnie Plants, left, and Colorado Agriculture Commissioner John Salazar. Enlargephoto

Photo by Melanie Brubaker Mazur

Jackson Artichoker, right, a fourth-grade student at Bayfield Elementary, won the $1,000 Colorado scholarship from Bonnie Plants for the company's national cabbage program. He received the scholarship check March 21 from Chris Simpson of Bonnie Plants, left, and Colorado Agriculture Commissioner John Salazar.

Jackson Artichoker received a big check for growing a big cabbage.

The Bayfield Elementary fourth grader participated in a project last summer to grow a cabbage provided by Bonnie Plants. His teacher submitted his photo of his 16-pound cabbage, and it was chosen at random out of all the Colorado entries. On Friday, he received a $1,000 scholarship check from John Salazar, Colorado's agriculture commissioner.

"I'm just really happy and proud I could grow such a big cabbage and win $1,000," Jackson said at a school assembly on Friday. After it was cleaned and trimmed, his cabbage weighed 12 pounds. He said he watered it about three times a week and fertilized it once a week. On Friday, he received the scholarship check and a picture of him and his cabbage signed by Salazar. His parents, Melanie and Tyler Artichoker, and brother Jayden, 5, were at the assembly.

"You can come run our farm," joked Salazar, who raises canola, alfalfa, and organic beef on his family farm in the San Luis Valley. The Bonnie Plants contest provides cabbages to third-grade students around the country to raise over the summer. Bayfield third graders received their cabbage plants a few weeks ago. Chris Simpson, an area representative for Bonnie Plants, estimated his company provides about 18,000 cabbage plants just for students throughout the Southwest.

Salazar said programs such as these help connect kids with gardening and rural life.

"A big part of my job is just us educating my urban counterparts about how food is grown," he said.

He was particularly impressed that Jackson grew his cabbage at his family's home in Forest Lakes at an altitude of 8,200 feet.