Rocky Ford farmers respond to consumer demand for organic melons
Hirakata Farms ships record amount of organic melons to market this season
Friday, August 12, 2016 — Rocky Ford, CO - Call it a modern take on an age-old tradition: farmers in the Rocky Ford growing region are returning to their roots to meet consumer demand for more organic cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew melon.
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!