Here’s a good question from a What About Watermelon reader. This one is answered by Ryan Van Groningen, a fourth generation watermelon grower from California.
CASEY A. FROM ROYSTON, GA, ASKS: I’ve always thought being a watermelon farmer would be a pretty neat job and was wondering why you became a watermelon farmer. Out of all the different crops you could have grown, what made you choose watermelon?
For me, the decision to grow watermelon was easy because watermelon growing is a family tradition! My family’s farm is called Van Groningen & Sons and I’m a fourth generation grower. To put it simply, we love what we do!
My family has been farming since 1922, when my great grandfather Henry Van Groningen (that’s him in the picture above) began farming row crops here in California. In 1929, he moved to our current location in Ripon, CA, about 80 miles east of San Francisco, and the rest is history. Today, I help manage the farm along with the rest of my family, which includes my father, my brothers, my sister, and my cousin.
As for why we chose watermelon as one of the crops to build our farm around, I have to say a big reason is because watermelon is a fruit that everyone loves! We take great pleasure in watching people enjoy such a fun and healthy treat. Also, the watermelon industry is a fast and furious business in the summer months, which means there’s never a dull moment because of the high volume of demand. And when you’re a farmer, being busy is always a good thing!