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Posted on Tue, Oct 2, 2012 : 2:58 p.m.

4th graders from Ann Arbor want Michigan Legislature to designate cherry as official state fruit

By Ryan J. Stanton

Michigan's official state flower is the apple blossom. The state tree is the white pine. The state bird is the American robin. And the state stone is the Petoskey stone.

Michigan also has an official state fish, state reptile, state fossil, state wildflower, state gem and several state nicknames. But it doesn't have an official state fruit.

That could change soon.


Fourth graders from Ann Arbor’s Bach Elementary worked with state Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, to draft Senate Bill 373, which would officially designate the cherry as Michigan's state fruit.

Courtesy of Rebekah Warren

With the help of a group of fourth graders from Ann Arbor's Bach Elementary School, state Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, is pushing for the passage of legislation that aims to officially designate the cherry as Michigan's state fruit.

Warren said the idea came 100 percent from the students in Mrs. Tarchinski's class at Bach Elementary.

"They brought the idea up to me and debated it in front of me," she said. "They put together research about the number of cherries we grow in Michigan, the different types — sweet, tart, etc. — and even looked at volume of cherry products produced in Michigan."

The students delivered all of their research in a PowerPoint presentation and have been prepared to defend their choice, Warren said.

"Incredibly impressive fourth graders in Mrs. Tarchinski's class, for sure," she said, adding they're planning on visiting the state Capitol on Wednesday and starting a letter writing campaign to Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville.

Warren worked with the students to draft and introduce Senate Bill 373 last year with bipartisan support. The bill was referred to the Committee on Government Operations but never went anywhere after that. Now there's a renewed push for its passage.

"Since we're looking at the end of session, I'm trying to get it moving," Warren said on Tuesday afternoon, adding Richardville has committed to holding a hearing or referring it to the Senate Agriculture Committee for a hearing. "So I'm hopeful we will see some committee action soon."

Asked whether she's expecting there to be a battle waged for the blueberry, Warren said it's already happening. She said state Sen. John Proos, a Republican who represents "blueberry country" in west Michigan, wouldn't co-sponsor her cherry bill.

But considering Traverse City is known as the "Cherry Capital of the World," even hosting a National Cherry Festival, there's sure to be support for Warren's bill from lawmakers to the north.

What do you think? Take our poll below.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.


Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 3 p.m.

"Warren worked with the students to draft and introduce Senate Bill 373 last year with bipartisan support. The bill was referred to the Committee on Government Operations but never went anywhere after that." And it appears the children are learning the difference between an effective representative and an ineffective one.

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 2:57 p.m.

Maybe once the class learns about the process of selecting a state fruit, they can ask Ms. Warren about the process for lobbying County Commissioners to pay back expense funds they improperly took from taxpayers. Lol.

Ashley Zimmerman

Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 2:05 p.m.

I stand corrected again. There goes my argument. "Michigan produces more cherries than any other state, including 70 to 75 percent of the tart cherries grown in the U.S. and 20 percent of the nation's sweet cherries." Same document.

Ashley Zimmerman

Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 2:01 p.m.

"Michigan leads the nation in growing blueberries, producing over one-third of all of the blueberries eaten in the U.S." I stand corrected. It's not exactly our #1 export I guess, but we lead the nation in growing them.


Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 1:52 p.m.

As a big fan of he Traverse City area, I heartily approve of the cherry as our state fruit. It's great to see Rebecca Warren engaging young children in their government---and I just chuckle and shake my head at the "naysayers" that have to make a negative comment on every positive story!

Ashley Zimmerman

Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

too bad the #1 fruit export of Michigan is blueberries.


Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 1:08 p.m.

Only on this forum would commenters find something to dump on in in this article. My daughter is part of this class, and she's on her way to the capitol building tomorrow for day-long field trip and tour. I can't tell you how fascinated she is by our legislative processes, and this gives her an opportunity to participate. I only wish I had classroom teachers that facilitated this sort of interaction. Great job, Mrs. Tarchinski!

Barbara Read

Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

I love it. Good for Mrs. Tarchinski for seeing the opportunity to teach a real life civics lesson. When my girls were 5 and 8 (they're now 15 and 18), and we lived in North Carolina, our local library branch was being closed. I told them there was a meeting we could attend and ask them not to close the library. I did the speaking and shared what we loved about our branch (the librarians and storytime). They made signs to hold up. No big surprise, the council voted to close the library branch anyway, but several really good things came from the experience. The librarians cried seeing their little patrons stick up for them. The council members were very encouraging and wrote a letter to the girls thanking them for coming and explaining why they voted to close the branch. As a family, we felt like we did the right thing to ask for what we wanted. I say, let kids start young learning how to be involved in their communities. Whether or not the cherry is chosen means MUCH LESS than whether the kids do the research, make the powerpoint and get involved.

Barbara Read

Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 1:12 p.m.

This was also the first time I attended a public meeting to get involved. Since then, I have continued to look for ways to be involved in community issues. I'm running for school board in Dexter now and have been participating in the meetings for over two years. You have to start somewhere!

Liliana Holtzman

Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 12:09 p.m.

Great idea! I support these fourth graders and wish them success in their effort. What a wonderful experience for these young students on the inner workings of our government.

rusty shackelford

Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 11:37 a.m.

Ahem, peaches. Need I say more?

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 10:23 a.m.

Rebekah Warren? She's been totally ineffective as my representative this term. Glad she's focusing on a major American issue she might actually have the skills to accomplish this time--but guessing she'll fail at this one too.


Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 7:52 a.m.

Seriously you guys??? These are 4th graders! Let them enjoy getting involved in ANY project that teaches them that their opinions are valid, regardless of whether you personally think the State needs a "State Fruit" or not. And why not? No harm done here, but kids learning they can make a change if they want. I remember how excited I was to help name our school mascot knowing it would affect generations of students to come. Let them have their fun!


Tue, Oct 2, 2012 : 10:32 p.m.

If we must have a full time legislature, it is far better that they fritter away their time on subjects like this than mucking around with laws and taxes and budgets... those are too dangerous for our simpleminded legislators to deal with.


Tue, Oct 2, 2012 : 10:02 p.m.

Tells you how much I know. I thought the state fruit was the apple. We are the cherry capital of the world.


Tue, Oct 2, 2012 : 9:34 p.m.

Wow....I thought the state fruit was ALREADY the Cherry...I just assumed so you know where that takes you....


Tue, Oct 2, 2012 : 8:25 p.m.

I'm all for kids learning about government, but I wish that teachers would engage their students in more substantive issues. There are plenty of issues that are both kid-friendly and socially significant that could serve as the basis for learning about how government works AND produce meaningful results at the same time. Instead, we have our children ask our legislators to argue among themselves about the relative merits of fruit while the state goes to h*ll in a hand basket.


Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 2:52 p.m.

If I was in that fourth grade class and we adopted a state fruit, I would remember that for the rest of my life. People would probably remember for generations to come. And if I recall, learning about our state is what I did 12 years ago in fourth grade. I think it's very ingaging and appropriate.


Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

Sellers, When it comes down to it, I don't really want my legislators wasting time arguing about fruit when there are so many other genuinely meaningful things We The People need them to be working on right now.


Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 12:11 p.m.

High school students maybe, but these kids are in elementary school - you want them talking about property tax revenue, the opportunity costs versus values of a business tax incentive? How about the freedom of speech versus the pledge of allegiance. The cherry thing is a perfect non-partisian non-religious non-connundrom based topic that is a great medium for discussion and learning.

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 11:22 a.m.

This is a lesson is government. Think about! What do are legislatures do everyday, take on important issues that will save us from financial collapse? No, they argue semantics and take on bills that have no positive directions for our state. These children are getting an authentic education. Of course you know that this pithy observation of mine is loaded with sarcasm, right?


Tue, Oct 2, 2012 : 9:08 p.m.

And what, pray tell, do you suggest that 9 year olds write their Congressperson about instead? Biking on the sidewalk seems to be a hotbed issue in this town, maybe they should get involved with that?


Tue, Oct 2, 2012 : 7:55 p.m.

I think it's great that students are getting involved - but T.C. already takes the capital and gives Michigan recognition, it's not as if the Apple is dead - I don't think this adds a lot of value to the state. If the Apple were dead, or we didn't produce apples any longer, it may make sense from a pride, marketing, and awareness point of view, but I don't see that as the case. I think the value add - students involvement in the legislative process - has already been gleaned form this effort.


Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 12:08 p.m.

I actually was mistaken - the apple blossom is the state flower, not the apple the state fruit. We have no such designation. Chimay - you said the same thing I did "I think the value add - students involvement in the legislative process - has already been gleaned form this effort." is the same thing you said. :) I voted my comment down however since I'm ignorant on this topic and should no longer comment :)


Tue, Oct 2, 2012 : 10:01 p.m.

The apple is not dead. It does not fall far from the tree. That is all.


Tue, Oct 2, 2012 : 8:14 p.m.

I don't think this is about adding value to the state in the context of the cherry. It's about 4th graders learning about government.

Tex Treeder

Tue, Oct 2, 2012 : 7:15 p.m.

I'm glad to see fourth graders getting involved in government. Seriously, engagement with the political structure at an early age will hopefully produce more politically active citizens. On the other hand, do we really need a state fruit, state flower, state [fill in the blank]?