Fourth grade students from Mannsdale Upper Elementary School petitioned the Legislature to adopt the new state fruit.
The state of Mississippi officially has a new state fruit – the blueberry.
The tiny berry was promoted as the state fruit by a group of fourth grade students from Mannsdale Upper Elementary School through HB 1027.
“I was happy to sign this legislation into law. This is all thanks to the initiative of these great Mannsdale Upper Elementary School students,” said Governor Tate Reeves (R) on the signing of the bill. “I’m very proud of their efforts leading the way on this issue and rallying the legislature to their cause. I enjoyed meeting them at the signing ceremony. They have bright futures ahead of them!”
The students decided to petition the Legislature to select the fruit after learning about how students in Kansas worked to persuade their legislature to name the Sandhill plum as the official state fruit. After researching the story, the students got to work researching what major fruit crop Mississippi produces.
Their teacher, Lisa Parenteau, then emailed their State Representative, Jill Ford (R), to discuss the idea to name the blueberry as the state’s official fruit.
“I emailed her (Ford) with my class watching on the screen, not really expecting anything to come from it. It wasn’t but two hours later that she had emailed me back and was wanting to come talk to my class and help them get a bill written,” Parenteau said back in March on SuperTalk.
The blueberry is a major crop in the state and ranks as the most-produced fruit. Just under 2,000 acres of land farmed by roughly 125 farmers are used to grow the fruit. That work produces around 8.55 million pounds of blueberries for sale.
“Nothing thrills my soul like having children get involved in the process,” said Rep. Ford in a Facebook post at the bill signing.
The blueberry joins other state symbols such as the state flower (magnolia), state insect (the Honeybee), state bird (the mockingbird), and state fish (the Largemouth or Black Bass).
“Blueberries are a big crop for the state of Mississippi. Last year alone, Mississippi boasted of more than 1,900 acres of blueberries in production. I’m thrilled that this delicious berry has been made the new state fruit and I hope this legislation brings even more attention to Mississippi’s largest industry – agriculture,” said Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson.