Heart of Louisiana: Sugartown Watermelons

Updated: Jul. 5, 2016 at 5:56 PM CDT
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(WVUE) - It's a watermelon that really does taste sweeter than most, and it comes from a tiny farming community in Western Louisiana with a name that sounds too good to be true: Sugartown.

If you get off the interstate and drive across Louisiana in early summer, there's a decent chance you will pass one of these roadside vendors selling Sugartown watermelons.

Sugartown is a real place, and its claim to fame is watermelons.

"We're not on anybody's map," said Jason Green. "I mean, we're just out of the middle of nowhere. I mean, if you blink you miss us, that's how small we are.

Green started farming watermelons about 15 years ago.

"When I started this business I had no clue that people would come from all over the United States," he said.

Jason became friends with longtime watermelon farmer Corbett Gibson, who showed him the tricks of the trade.

"He was a young kid, he wanted to grow watermelons so I made it my business to go help him," Gibson said.

When he was ready to retire, Corbett sold his Sugartown watermelon stand to Green.

"And the stand had been, already been on national TV, so I had people coming from all over the United States," Gibson said.

Many believe the secret sauce that makes these watermelons so good is the soil, because the soil is loaded with sand.

"The sand runs about 15 feet deep, which is a little bit greater than areas outlying from Sugartown," Green said.

But it's also the watermelon variety and farming techniques that make these melons sweeter than most.

"If you like honey, it's just as good as honey," Gibson said.

"It's just until you've had a really good watermelon you do not know what you're missing," Green said.

These watermelons were likely picked a few hours earlier from Green's 30-acre farm.

"There's days that we pull two or three thousand and move them, and then there are days where we may pull 500," green said.

The picking is all done by hand in the sweltering heat of summer. The melons, weighing 30 pounds or more, are pulled off the vine and tossed down the line, filling a trailer.  Within the hour, these same melons will be sold to vendors, loaded onto other trailers and trucked to roadside stands across the South.

And it's a brand that has loyal customers. But legend has it that Sugartown's name comes from a mishap involving an early settler who spilled a load of sugar into a creek.

"And everybody called the little creek Sugar Creek, so they named the town Sugartown, and that's how it got its name," Gibson said.

And with a name like Sugartown, these watermelons have got to be good. Click here for information about how to "thump" a watermelon.

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