Saturday, May 21, 2005

Orange Now Official Fruit

Governor Jeb Bush this week signed legislation (SB 574) designating the
orange as Florida's official state fruit. Bill sponsor Representative
Donna Clarke, Sarasota County Farm Bureau President Rory Martin, Southside
Elementary School Principal Sharon Marks, Teacher Janet Shapiro and
students joined Governor Bush for the bill signing.
"The orange plays a vital role in our state's economy, with more than
90,000 people employed by the citrus industry and more than 1.2 billion
gallons of orange juice produced each year in the state," said Governor
"I'm extremely pleased that citizens took the initiative to make this
happen," said Commissioner Bronson. "Oranges have been in this state since
being brought here by the Spanish in the 1500's and since Florida is known
around the world for its fresh citrus, it is only natural that the orange
be adopted as the official state fruit."
Florida is the largest producer of oranges in the United States. The fruit
has been grown in the state for nearly 500 years, with the Spanish planting
the first orange tree in St. Augustine in the early 1500's. Since then,
the citrus industry has grown to nearly 100 million trees in groves
covering more than 750,000 acres. Florida's orange groves produce more
than 200 million boxes of oranges annually, pouring $9 billion into the
state's economy. Hendry county has been at the top three Florida Counties
in number of citrus trees for a decade.
With the signing of this legislation, the orange joins the orange blossom
(official state flower) and orange juice (official state beverage) to
become Florida's 29th official emblem.

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