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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Locally Grown Watermelon Season!



I have loved watermelon for as long as I can remember. Watermelon salad, watermelon smoothies, watermelon margaritas, and my favorite....sliced watermelon nicely chilled in the refrigerator. I’ve been know to eat an entire half of a watermelon all by myself! I equate this fruit with the hot days of summer and it is a treat that is enjoyed frequently in my household. Walmart provided me with the opportunity to interview one of the local farmers here in Georgia that provides watermelon for the area stores. Providing produce that is locally grown is one of the many ways Walmart is supporting local farmers and decreasing their carbon footprint. Whenever possible I shop in the locally grown section of my Walmart because I know it is fresh, supports the local economy and will be good (and if I’m not satisfied, there is a 100% satisfaction guarantee and I can bring the fruit back for refund - without receipt!).

I interviewed Greg Leger, President of Leger & Son, Inc, supplier of the Georgia Walmart watermelons. Here is our interview and I gotta tell you, I learned a lot about this favorite fruit of mine!

photo credit: Leger & Son, Inc.

Renee:How long have you been growing watermelon?
Greg:  I am a third generation watermelon grower/shipper. I am 52 years old and have been a part of the family business all of my life spending most of my younger years in the fields harvesting and packing.

photo credit: Leger & Son, Inc.

Renee: How much watermelon does your farm produce?
Greg: With the varieties that we plant now we harvest every 4 to 5 days. The plants flowers are pollinated at different times so the melons on one plant do not get ripe at once. We will walk the same field 5 to 6 times over a 4 week period. These fields can yield 45,000 to 50,000 lbs. over the total 4 weeks. This is about a Tractor Trailer Truck per acre, or 2700 melons per acre TOTAL on a field.

Renee:  How long is watermelon season?
Greg: Our company sharecrops with other growers in Florida (April & May), Georgia (June& July), Indiana & Delaware (July & August). So our watermelon season lasts all Summer.  We also import some melons throughout the winter months. We try to keep watermelon available year-round, even if its sliced or diced.

Renee: How do you recommend choosing the sweetest watermelon when I am shopping?
Greg: It is our job as grower shippers to assure the quality is to the best of our ability so choosing should be easy for the consumer, however mother nature throws us curveballs sometimes. If you had 2 basketballs setting together, 1 full of air and the other half full of air, they both would look the same. However if you slap them both softly, the 1 that was full of air would have a nice ringing sound to it when slapping. The one that’s half full of air would sound dull or,….… flat. So choose the one that sounds full or tight. Also on the underside the belly should be a light creamy color where it laid on the ground.

5. Do you have any favorite ways to enjoy watermelon?
I like to quarter whole watermelon and slice triangles about 1 inch thick and put in Ziploc bags. 1 medium watermelon will fill almost two 1 gallon bags. I usually put one in the fridge and the other in the cooler in my truck. My daughter plays fast pitch softball and I am a popular guy when I come to the ball field! The team loves it when I hand them a gallon bag fresh off the ice on a hot day. I will say that as much as I’ve been around watermelon I still try to eat it every day as it is both a multivitamin, and refreshing.

I really enjoyed speaking with Greg and I’ll be sure to keep some watermelon in my fridge at all times this summer, I am thinking I’ll even freeze some for a special treat!




1 comment:

SouthMainMuse said...

This was interesting. I'm trying again with watermelon in my garden this summer. But it doesn't look like it's going too well. The deer always give me a fit. It's nice to know that we still can buy them at the store and they're great.

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