Doug and Mary Beth Meyer are proof that with a little bit of magic and a lot of imagination, anything can happen.

Holding their now-record-winning almost-8-pound grapefruit inside the Louisiana Department of Forestry and Agriculture on Tuesday morning, the Slidell couple laughed and shook their heads in disbelief that what started as a backyard hobby to bond with their grandchildren had become such a big deal.

But nonetheless, Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain formally announced that the Meyers’ had outgrown the former Brazilian world record holder by close to an inch in circumference, making their grapefruit the largest in the world, according to Guinness World Records.

“We did nothing special to grow this grapefruit so we attribute it to the fairies,” Mary Beth Meyer said.


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When the couple diversified their backyard tomato and lettuce garden by buying a grapefruit tree early last year, their six grandchildren would come over and help tend it. Big and beautiful, it soon became known as the imagination tree.

There is a fairy garden at its base with little homes, fairy figurines and gnomes. The kids will tidy up the garden when they lose a tooth, so the tooth fairy has a nice place to stay on her journey to their home. The children even made a croquet set for the fairies to play with while they’re not around.

According to 8-year-old Darrell Brouillette, the fairies often have parties out there so they need something to keep them occupied.

The prize-winning grapefruit is the only one on that tree that grew to such an impressive size, and the Meyer family had never undertaken grapefruit growing before. It was late spring of 2018 when they started to notice this particular fruit getting big, so they kept watch of it.

Soon, it started to bow the branches around it, so the family looked up the biggest grapefruit record holder. And while they couldn’t weigh the fruit while it was on the tree, they measured its circumference and knew it must be getting close.

Mary Beth and Doug shielded the fruit from the winter frost, they built a hammock to support its weight on the branches, and kept believing in the power of the fairy garden.

The Guinness World Record measuring officials came to the couple’s Slidell home after the fruit was harvested in January and completed their weights and measurements to confirm it was in fact the world’s biggest. Weighing in at 7 pounds, 14.64 ounces and measuring 28.75 inches in circumference, it’s a big fruit.

Doug Meyer said the family has seen some interest since word got out about their prize winner, including neighbors who often will knock on their door for some of the bounty. The tree produces so much fruit, the Meyers’ can hardly get through them all themselves. One grapefruit farmer from California recently called wanting some clippings from the impressive tree, but despite all the attention they drew Tuesday morning, the Meyers’ said, they don’t plan on seeking another record with their green thumbs.

After all, it’s hard to take too much of the credit when the fairies did most of the heavy lifting.

Email Emma Kennedy at ekennedy@theadvocate.com.