From the editor's laptopFrom pawpaws to pumpkinsBefore gearing up for this week's Barnesville Pumpkin Festival, I spent the weekend celebrating another fruit, one that is now officially Ohio's native fruit.The pawpaw, a well known and loved fruit for the Native Americans of Ohio and early settlers, has been enjoying a resurgence for its many culinary and medicinal uses.The pawpaw (asimina triloba) is North America's largest native tree fruit. It grows wild in many places throughout the eastern United States. Originally an understory tree, the pawpaw most often grows in forests and along streams and rivers. The fruit is a large edible berry, five to 16 cm long and three to seven cm broad, weighing from 20 to 500 g, with numerous seeds; it is green when unripe, maturing to yellow or brown. It has a flavor somewhat similar to both banana and mango, varying significantly by cultivar, and has more protein than most fruits.The name, also spelled paw paw, paw-paw, and papaw, probably derives from the Spanish papaya, perhaps because of the superficial similarity of their fruit. Pawpaw has numerous other common names, often very local.According to Wikopedia, the earliest documentation of pawpaws is in the 1541 report of the de Soto expedition, who found Native Americans cultivating it east of the Mississippi River. The Lewis and Clark Expedition depended and sometimes subsisted on pawpaws during their travels. Chilled pawpaw fruit was a favorite dessert of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson was certainly familiar with it as he planted it at Monticello. The Ohio Pawpaw Growers' Association began lobbying for the pawpaw to be the Ohio state native fruit in 2006.The 11th Annual Ohio Pawpaw Festival was held this past weekend in Albany, Ohio at Lake Snowden near Athens. At this year's festival, it was announced that Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, upon recommendation of State Senator Jimmy Stewart (R-Distirct 20), has declared the pawpaw the state's official native fruit. (The tomato is still our state regular fruit.)In recent years the pawpaw has attracted renewed interest, particularly among organic growers, as a native fruit which has few to no pests and which therefore requires no pesticide use for cultivation. The commercial growing and harvesting of pawpaws is strong in southeast Ohio (home of the Ohio Pawpaw Growers' Association and the Pawpaw Festival.)Also native (believed to have originated in Central America) and a fruit, the pumpkin could definitely be declared the official fruit (or vegetable if you prefer) of Barnesville. I have not had the time to research any Barnesville connection to the pawpaw, however, it would not surprise me to learn that the Native Americans and early settlers of the area used the fruit. Barnesville already has historical ties to the strawberry and the ginseng root.I read on the Internet that some believe the pumpkin should be our national fruit, because they were present at the first "Thanksgiving" and the first Independence Day Celebration. The pumpkin is the official state fruit of New Hampshire.As I returned from the Pawpaw Festival on Sunday afternoon, I saw many Barnesville residents putting up decorations for the annual Barnesville Pumpkin Festival home decorating contest, the information booth was in place.With this week's festival, crowds will descend that will dwarf the number of people who attended the Pawpaw Festival. Like the Pawpaw Festival, the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival celebrates agriculture, friends, family and of course food.You may see me wearing a Pawpaw Festival t-shirt during the Pumpkin Festival, but if asked for my vote, I would definitely choose the pumpkin for state or national recognition.