Parish melons to get special logo

Published 9:32 am Monday, June 13, 2016

As goes Parmesan cheese, Champagne and Vidalia onions, so too will go Washington Parish watermelons.

This week, State Sen. Beth Mizell has asked the Department of Agriculture and Forestry to grant parish watermelons unique recognition in the form of a logo. Mizell said she is doing this because the melons grown in this parish are uniquely excellent and as it is, inferior melons mislabeled as Washington Parish melons are sold by less-than-scrupulous melon sellers.

“The watermelon resolution was really to address concerns I’ve heard from several people that we have watermelons coming from places that are certainly not Washington Parish, but they’re being sold as though they are from Washington Parish,” said Mizell. “So consumers believe they’re paying for a Washington Parish melon and they’re paying a higher price because the melons are better.”

Much like Vidalia onions which, by Georgia decree, may only be grown in a few select areas in that state, the Washington Parish watermelon logo will only be available to farmers in this parish.

Mizell said farmers will be able to print their own logos from home on stickers and then affix them to the melons. However, if farmers from outside the area stick Washington Parish stickers on their melons from other parishes, state officials can demand proof of origin.

“The Department of Agriculture can have some enforcement when they see people on the roadside selling melons they’ll have to certify them that they’re from Washington Parish,” said Mizell.

Mizell said she doesn’t know when the logo will be ready, but she said the department is working on it now, and she hopes it will be done before the season ends. Harvesting can begin as early as June and runs through the summer.