CHARLESTON, WV -- Anna Belan's favorite garden vegetable is the cucumber, but it was the cabbage that earned her a $1,000 scholarship.
Anna, a 9-year-old fourth grader at Midland Elementary School in Randolph County, is the state winner of the National Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program. She grew a 13-pound cabbage while a third grader at the school, and was recently notified she had been selected as the state champion.
"I didn't think that would happen but I was really happy," Anna said of the honor.
Her cabbage was randomly selected by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture. As a result, she will receive a $1,000 savings bond toward education from Bonnie Plants, touted as the largest producer of vegetable and herb plants in North America.
Anna enjoys gardening and cucumbers, but does not eat cabbage. In fact, her plant was nearly forgotten as it wilted on a windowsill.
"It almost died," she said.
However, with assistance from her grandparents and a lot of patience she nurtured the plant until it grew strong and produced a hearty cabbage.
"I learned that when you do it you have to have patience," she said. "It won't always work the way you think."
She and her parents, Mandy and Steve Belan, have a small garden each year with tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, Anna's favorite. Her grandparents, John and Corina Belan, live nearby and have a larger garden.
When her cabbage plant looked a bit sad, Anna called upon her grandparents for advice. They invited her to put the plant in their spacious garden.
Anna made sure it got enough water and adequate sunshine, but not too much. A bucket with holes in it served as a shelter when the sun was too hot.
"It survived, apparently," she said.
Since her family does not eat cabbage, she gave half of the 13-pound beauty to her grandparents and the other half to her aunt and uncle.