Home Press Perry & Sons Had A Watermelon Farm, E-I-E-I-O

Perry & Sons Had A Watermelon Farm, E-I-E-I-O

by TerriAnn
Perry & Sons Watermelon Farm Tour Courtesy of Safeway

Safeway Local Watermelon Farm Tour at Perry & Sons in Manteca, CA . . .


Have you ever thought about how watermelons grow? It’s normal to know how strawberries, tomatoes, and even cucumbers grow. But, somehow, that just doesn’t happen with watermelons. We see it, think “Mmm, watermelon!”, then eat it. That’s it. When I received an invitation to visit a watermelon farm, I was more than slightly intrigued. Safeway knows that fresher is better and to get fresh you need to go local. So began my field trip to Perry & Sons farm.

Bright and early on August 13th (I woke up at 5am, yawn . . . ), our bus departed San Francisco and we headed out to Tracy, CA. There we picked up a few more guests, including third generation watermelon farmer, Art Perry. Originally from the Azores island near Portugal, the family-run operation began back in 1925 and has worked with Safeway for the past 60 years of that.

Perry & Sons Watermelon Farm Tour Courtesy of Safeway
Courtesy of Terry VanderHeiden

The fact that Safeway has such loyalty with local farmers says a lot to me, in a good way. It was also impressive to see just how close Art and Safeway Produce Merchandising Director, Steve Tsujimoto, were. I guess 34 years of partnership can do that do people.

Art put most emphasis on building relationships. That’s how they continually acquire land to farm and continue to do so, through their relationships with neighboring farms. According to the Perry family, the best type of soil to grow watermelon in is new, virgin land.

Once watermelon is grown in a field, they do not use it any more. Instead, pumpkins are planted next and then other crops like corn, wheat, and tomatoes are rotated in. Watermelon is a tricky fruit/vegetable to grow but we could tell how passionate Art was about the labor of love.

Perry & Sons Watermelon Farm Tour Courtesy of Safeway

Seeing watermelons in the different stages of development was really very interesting. I could NOT believe that a baseball-sized watermelon reached full-size in only four weeks! From seed to being fully ripe it’s only about 90 days total – and these plants are massive!

Art’s right-hand man, Paul Gomes, skillfully sliced open some VERY fresh watermelon. Surprisingly, it was actually cool inside. The temperature drops significantly in the evening here and the watermelon can retain that temperature for quite some time. Wow, nothing like sweet, cool, fresh watermelon. The resident bees agreed.

Perry & Sons Watermelon Farm Tour Courtesy of Safeway

Our tour broken down into five stations with different watermelon-inspired treats at each one. My favorites had to be the watermelon salsa (with corn, black beans, bell peppers, etc. but no tomatoes) and the prosciutto-wrapped watermelon (great balance of sweet and salty). Another surprise was the drink with watermelon blended finely with rose vinegar.

Safeway’s own chef came up with original recipes for this event but the presentation and catering was done by Greens Market in Modesto, CA. They did a beautiful job and that watermelon ‘grill’ was a hit. There were even blackberries inside for the ‘coals’. Oh, and yes, that flower near the salsa was a carved watermelon. 

Perry & Sons Watermelon Farm Tour Courtesy of Safeway

Almost all the watermelons grown here are seedless. Did you know that seedless watermelon are not genetically manipulated? Instead, pollinator plants, which are a cross of three varieties, are used. With the help of bees, pollen is transferred to the plants which then produce sterile watermelon (aka seedless).

We even learned that the lightly-colored brown patches are due to harmless worms. As these can just be wiped off and do not burrow, they do not affect the inside of the watermelon at all. It was good to know this as I’ve often put a melon back when I saw these spots that made it look less than perfect.

Perry & Sons Watermelon Farm Tour Courtesy of Safeway

A ripe watermelon should be heavy, have firm ends, be uniform, and have a ‘ping’ when you tap it. If you hear a ‘thud’ it’s overripe. I’m still getting the hang of this. Perry & Sons are not 100% organic but they do not fumigate and are still on the list of the ‘clean 15’. When buying the watermelon at Safeway, they are picked ripe and are meant to be taken home and eaten right away. Still, there’s a good amount of shelf life so don’t be worried that it will spoil immediately.

The whole process was rather interesting and very educational. There was so much involved in coming up with the right flavors and textures to adjusting the watering levels appropriately for each stage. The information includedI feel a homeschool unit study coming on . . . 

I mentioned it briefly a little earlier but the farm also grows and harvests pumpkins and gourds. Art spoke about the different varieties they grow including Cannon Ball and Big Mac pumpkins. At Safeway, they are merely labeled ‘large’ and ‘small’.

Perry & Sons Watermelon Farm & Pumpkin Tour Courtesy of Safeway
Courtesy of Terry VanderHeiden

I was so impressed with how welcoming the family was in hosting our small group of media. At the last station, even the second generation Perry (George), his wife, their sons, their wives, and their grandchildren came to meet us. Many thanks go to them and the Safeway/PR team for a great day. What an experience!

To bring our tour full-circle, we returned to the Safeway in Tracy for some closing remarks and photos. So, next time you eat a watermelon, if it’s really, really, tasty, remember the hard work your local farmers put into growing it 🙂

Perry & Sons Watermelon Farm Tour Courtesy of Safeway

I was invited to a media event by Safeway. I was not compensated for this post but my travel was reimbursed and gift card was provided for giveaway. All opinions are 100% my own.

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stacie August 26, 2013 - 12:54 pm

fresh, cut watermelon with a touch of salt!

Patty S. August 27, 2013 - 8:55 am

I like them in salad

Cristen C. August 27, 2013 - 10:06 am

I love watermelon ice cold, cut in bite-sized chunks. And seedless, of course. 🙂

Judy Wakerling August 27, 2013 - 10:42 am

Great article about watermelons and so informative. I will have a new appreciation for the next watermelon I purchase. All the care that goes into growing them. And it’s nice to know that farming is in some instances a family affair. Thanks TerriAnn for such a nicely written article.

TerriAnn van Gosliga August 28, 2013 - 12:36 am

You’re welcome. I, too, was blown away with how much there was to know about and how to grow watermelons!

Adrienne gordon August 27, 2013 - 4:40 pm

Just plain.

Jessie C. August 27, 2013 - 8:13 pm

I like it fresh and plain.

Elena August 27, 2013 - 8:14 pm

I like to eat fresh watermelon for dessert

Cynthia C August 28, 2013 - 5:27 am

I like it chilled and cut in chunks, lightly salted.

Patty Broderick-White August 28, 2013 - 10:10 am

I like it sliced with some salt

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dan williams August 28, 2013 - 10:20 am

sliced into small pieces

April Brenay August 28, 2013 - 11:05 am

sliced, with a bit of salt on the top 🙂

Katie K August 28, 2013 - 11:17 am

just plain, cut into cubes!

heather eg kaufman August 28, 2013 - 12:26 pm

Fresh & sliced.

Darlene Carbajal August 28, 2013 - 2:13 pm

I actually do not like watermelon. weird right? 🙂

latoya August 28, 2013 - 2:39 pm

I like to just slice it and eat it, its also really good in smoothies.

Sharon August 28, 2013 - 3:44 pm

i like watermelon just as it is, ripe and juicy

Christina Sparks August 28, 2013 - 4:11 pm

I love eating it when it is really juicy, it always good at a family reunion.

Katie Roch August 28, 2013 - 4:36 pm

I love eating watermelon in a Watermelon, Cucumber, and Jícama Salad.

Kylie C August 28, 2013 - 6:39 pm

With basil and goat cheese tossed with watermelon cubes as a salad.

Jess August 28, 2013 - 8:19 pm

I love watermelon in smoothies! Thanks for this awesome giveaway!

Tracy Robertson August 29, 2013 - 2:21 am

I love watermelon neatly cut into chunks about 1″ each. I cut the whole thing at once then put in a big bowl, cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate and enjoy for days! I just finished one a few days ago, time to get another one!

ken ohl August 29, 2013 - 2:55 am

chilled right out of the ice box. thankyou, ken

sandra August 29, 2013 - 5:56 am

cut up ( by moy mom)

brynne August 29, 2013 - 2:30 pm

Sliced and seedless. All the way!

Monique Rizzo August 29, 2013 - 3:08 pm

Cut up into chunks in a bowl!

Thanks for the chance.

Suzanne K August 29, 2013 - 4:45 pm

nice and cold watermelon, outside on a warm day (so I don’t have to worry about dripping)

christine jessamine August 29, 2013 - 5:16 pm

my favorite is the watermelon cake my sister makes

Ellie W August 29, 2013 - 7:18 pm

I like to eat it chilled.

Amanda Hoffman August 29, 2013 - 7:31 pm

i like it cold and sliced still with the outer layer because its tradition every year

Kiara August 29, 2013 - 9:45 pm

I like it plain.

Christine burd August 29, 2013 - 10:02 pm

I like watermelon cold and sliced in half moon shape

Jessica Wyatt August 30, 2013 - 9:50 am

I have to have it chilled (and super ripe!)

carol August 30, 2013 - 9:57 am

Love to cut the watermelon into chunks

Amanda Sakovitz August 30, 2013 - 2:31 pm

I love eating watermelon mixed in a fruit salad

Rachel @ Wife, Then Mama August 30, 2013 - 4:26 pm

Cold? I actually love watermelon balls, but I don’t have a melon baller, so I don’t ever eat them that way…

Thomas Murphy August 30, 2013 - 4:44 pm

I like it plain.

Katlyn August 30, 2013 - 5:15 pm

I like it natural and cold with seeds and all. I like spitting them out. 🙂

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alicia k (Petite Pilates Pixie) August 30, 2013 - 6:03 pm

i like it cut up into wedges

Noel August 31, 2013 - 3:59 am

Cut up with other fruits.

Julienne August 31, 2013 - 9:03 am

I like to eat it mixed in a fruit salad with other seasonal fruits!

Danielle August 31, 2013 - 5:38 pm

I like the seedless watermelon and love to eat it as my dessert after a BBQ

Colleen Boudreau August 31, 2013 - 7:29 pm


Kyl Neusch August 31, 2013 - 8:36 pm

cut up pieces

chadro August 31, 2013 - 8:51 pm

I like to eat watermelon cold and sliced in wedges with a little salt on it

Denise S September 1, 2013 - 8:28 am

I eat it with a little salt.

jon September 1, 2013 - 1:44 pm

WITH BOTH HANDS (each with a slice) !! My 2 yo is still learning to not bite too deep into the rind…pretty stinking cute watching him.

Tim September 1, 2013 - 7:59 pm

Sliced watermelon with salt!

Wild Orchid September 2, 2013 - 6:06 am

I love it in fruit salad.

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Brian E. September 2, 2013 - 1:13 pm

Thanks for the giveaway…we love watermelon sliced into wedges !

tina reynolds September 2, 2013 - 3:11 pm

I like it cold cut into wedges

Steve September 2, 2013 - 6:45 pm

I like it chilled and fresh cut, nothing on it.

Susan Chester September 2, 2013 - 8:35 pm

I like it cut in bite size pieces. Yum!

Kristie Merz September 2, 2013 - 9:33 pm

Cut up chunks, with a fork

Noreen September 2, 2013 - 10:04 pm

Cold and cut into cubes

Sarah Ann Walker September 2, 2013 - 10:37 pm

I love to eat watermelon cubed and dipped in cool whip.

joni September 3, 2013 - 4:56 am

I like watermelon in a mixed fruit salad with yogurt dip.

Kimberly Schotz September 3, 2013 - 12:11 pm

I don’t like my watermelon in big slices. I like it best when it is diced and in a pretty dish.

shelly peterson September 3, 2013 - 1:31 pm

I like to emy watermelon cut up with slices of cheddar cheese.

Tina W September 3, 2013 - 6:38 pm

Either plain or in a salad with feta and some fresh mint.

laurie layton September 3, 2013 - 6:43 pm

Just a big slice!

Judy Estrin September 3, 2013 - 7:08 pm

I love watermelon served chilled. There is nothing more refreshing that the taste of cold, sweet watermelon. Yummy, yummy.

Amanda September 3, 2013 - 7:20 pm

I like mine ice cold, with lots of seeds that I can spit at people!

ReggieMann September 3, 2013 - 7:30 pm

Cut it open and dig in!!

Danielle Royalegacy September 3, 2013 - 7:51 pm

I like big slices where the seeds get into my ears. ;-D

MindyMB September 3, 2013 - 9:04 pm

Cut up in cubes

sandra September 4, 2013 - 3:14 pm

watermelon is best eaten with a spoon

jessica September 4, 2013 - 6:38 pm

I like to eat it plain

Kelly D September 4, 2013 - 7:04 pm

I like to slice watermelon into wedges, and eat it one piece at a time.

Stephanie Larison September 4, 2013 - 10:42 pm

I like to eat mine chilled.

Lisa Brown September 5, 2013 - 5:41 am

I just slice it up and eat

virginia September 5, 2013 - 2:17 pm

just freshly cut (actually african watermelon the best)

June Lisle September 5, 2013 - 2:23 pm

I like to cut wedges and eat the watermelon by hand. I also sometimes use a spoon when I don’t want to get messy.

McKim September 6, 2013 - 10:58 am

I like to eat it fresh sliced with the juice dripping off my chin!

Claudia September 7, 2013 - 12:42 pm

I like to eat watermelon cold , and fresh cut, by it self. Thank you!

Julie Simpson September 7, 2013 - 1:00 pm

I like it no seeds in chunks with salt

Danielle D September 7, 2013 - 2:57 pm

I like it sliced into pieces

Daniel M September 7, 2013 - 4:34 pm

just plain but fresh

Debbie B September 7, 2013 - 6:30 pm

i love eating it really cold with a little bit of salt on it!

Renee G September 7, 2013 - 8:05 pm

I like to cut it up into small pieces and eat it at breakfast.

meredith September 7, 2013 - 8:27 pm

I like big slices that are then cut into chunks

Claire September 7, 2013 - 10:00 pm

covered in lemon

Chris Martinez September 8, 2013 - 1:22 am

With a spoon! Cut it in half and eat out of it.

joseph gersch September 8, 2013 - 1:36 am

i juice it

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Janice Crespo September 8, 2013 - 6:23 am

I love watermelon – but in order to get it all eaten – I dice it up in chunks so it’s easy to grab a bowlful 🙂

susan smoaks September 8, 2013 - 6:23 am

my favorite way to eat watermelon is just by itself but at the water somewhere like the beach or the lake

Melissa Nagy September 8, 2013 - 6:30 am

I love fresh watermelon with a little salt. Drippy sweetness!

Karen M September 8, 2013 - 9:19 am

My favorite way to eat watermelon is to cut it up, place in serving size bowls in the fridge and then just pull out a bowl and it’s ready to eat. Yumm

kolpin September 8, 2013 - 9:35 am

in a fruit salad with berries!

Sheree September 8, 2013 - 10:08 am

I love to cut it into bite sized pieces and put a little salt on it!

Michelle S. September 8, 2013 - 11:00 am

I like watermelon plain.

tallcapp September 8, 2013 - 11:38 am

I love watermelon cut up into a spinach and feta salad.

Alycia September 8, 2013 - 12:00 pm

I like to eat it fresh with just a little bit of salt! So good!

Tammy S September 8, 2013 - 12:46 pm

There is nothing better then fresh cut watermelon with a little salt on it.

mariem September 8, 2013 - 1:51 pm

cold, no salt, outside!

Samantha Daleo September 8, 2013 - 2:06 pm

I love to eat Watermelon when its been carved out by a melon baller and eating it with a toothpick! YUM!!

AEKZ2 September 8, 2013 - 3:32 pm

I just like it plain

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Brittney House September 8, 2013 - 5:59 pm

I like it cut into cubes.

Tara O. September 8, 2013 - 6:12 pm

I love to just slice into chunks and eat it cold from the refrigerator.

Kristen Weigel September 8, 2013 - 6:23 pm

I love if plain and fresh

Breanne September 8, 2013 - 6:38 pm

Plain in cubes

Rebecca September 8, 2013 - 7:06 pm

I like to slice it into wedges and let it drip down my chin while I eat it.

Kathleen S. September 8, 2013 - 9:36 pm

Just fresh and plain. Perfect the way it is!

Barbara Long September 8, 2013 - 9:42 pm

I prefer watermelon cut into chunks and cold.


Lily Kwan September 9, 2013 - 12:54 am

I love to eat watermelon ice cream!

dan williams September 9, 2013 - 3:16 pm

like it cold and in my hands, twitted this today, 09/09

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