Colo. governor proclaims Rocky Ford Cantaloupe Day
Rocky Ford Cantaloupe harvest is in full swing and are being enjoyed around Colorado, so much so that Gov. Jared Polis proclaimed Aug. 7 to be Rocky Ford Cantaloupe Day.
In his proclamation, he said the melons are more than melons, they are the “lifeblood of a unique Southeastern Colorado community.” Brooke Proctor, whose family operation Proctor Produce, is one of the four melon growing families that makes up the Rocky Ford Growers Association, was on hand at the Capitol for the signing.
Proctor said she brought a box of Rocky Ford cantaloupe with her and also surprised the governor with a watermelon carved with his likeness. The produce carver, Jennifer Hoppert, is from Boulder and also carved a watermelon for Hirakata Farms.
In his proclamation, Polis recognized the melons as “state treats and treasures, featuring the freshest, sweetest, juiciest flavor of all the cantaloupes grown on planet Earth” that have been part of an “unbroken tradition” since 1887. He also recognized the $8 million the cantaloupe industry contributes to the state’s economy annually and the stringent picking, packing and shipping safety practices employed by the Rocky Ford Growers Association.
The Rocky Ford Growers Association was established in 2011 to protect the produce from imitations being marketed as the now trademarked Rocky Ford Cantaloupe. The four grower families take the melons to Hirakata Farms for processing, packing and distribution to stores across the state.
Proctor said this time of the year is typically the middle of harvest but, with the late cool weather and rains, they are at the front end of harvest and facing a shorter season before the first frost.
“One of the great things we have right now as farmers is the feedback we get that people want to buy locally and they want to buy produce that’s grown in Colorado,” she said. “They want to support local businesses, they want to know where their food comes from and they want it to be fresh.”
She said she was pleased that Polis recognized the families who are producing food, raising the next generation, and taking care of the land. She said all four grower families have children involved in their operation, marking a bright future for the segment of the agriculture industry.
“When you buy local, it supports Colorado families like mine for generations to come,” she said. ❖
— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (970) 392-4410.