Hirakata Farms is leading the charge, increasing its certified organic acreage to 15% this year- the largest percentage of organic acreage ever.
“We’re really getting back to the way my father and grandfather farmed in this region,” says Hirakata Farms’ Michael Hirakata.
Consumer demand is driving the trend, which calls for a blend of old and new farming techniques. Organic fertilizers are used to feed the plants, and bugs are repelled naturally with a mulch that reflects a spectrum of light the bugs don’t like, chasing them away.
Michael Hirakata is also the president of the Rocky Ford Growers Association, a group of the region’s farmers who work together to ensure that Rocky Ford melons are picked, processed, and shipped using state-of-the-art food safety methods. Refrigerated trucks leave Rocky Ford almost every night of the growing season, arriving just before dawn in Denver to be distributed to grocery stores, food service providers, and public school cafeterias across the metro area.
Cantaloupe lovers should enjoy the season while it lasts-- the melon season will last longer than usual this year- perhaps as late as the end of September- but once they’re gone, they’re gone!