UPDATE: Farmers Donate Watermelon To Charity

A family frustrated by a news report last week that left them unable to sell the majority of their watermelons donated the crop Thursday.

Cousins Randy and Jerry Foy from Trenton in Jones County donated more than 300 watermelons to the Society of Saint Andrews, an organization that works with farmers to help feed hungry families across eleven counties in Eastern Carolina.

A report last week by another media outlet prompted a store to stop selling the watermelons after the store was told they were grown next to a field where there had previously been soil contaminated with jet fuel, but the watermelons had never been tested. State agriculture officials tested the watermelons after the report and they checked out just fine, but Foy says the damage had already been done.

Hundreds of volunteers were on hand Thursday and were grateful for the donation. Gloria Henderson is with the Society of Saint Andrews. She says, "The people who are the recipients, they are definitely going to be blessed by this. Sometimes we don't know why things happen or why it's intended to happen, but it definitely will benefit those who are in need."

The Foys say since Tuesday they've been able to sell several truckloads of watermelon, however their major suppliers remain on the fence.

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A watermelon grower in the east says he's upset by a media report last week that left him unable to sell his crop, potentially costing him thousands of dollars.

Jones County farmer Randy Foy is speaking out to WITN because he says a story last week by another media outlet has tarnished his name with his major suppliers.

Foy says his major suppliers aren't buying from him anymore. "Everything was set up with a contract to sell before we planted them and they were all sold. The guy would take all of em that we had and now he's not taking any."

Foy is upset after a report by another media outlet prompted a store to stop selling his watermelons. The store was told they were grown next to a field where there had previously been soil contaminated with jet fuel. Foy says the problem was the watermelons hadn't been tested yet.

State agriculture officials did test the watermelons after the report, and they checked out just fine, no problems. But Foy says, "The damage is already done and now we're suffering from the loss of not being able to sell em." Foy says the report could cost him thousands of dollars.

Horticulture agent Mark Seitz says the report couldn't have come at a worse time. The July 4th weekend is typically the highest selling point of the growing season. "There's other farmers that also have watermelons and other vegetables and fruit crops ready to sell right now, and if you lose this market window, you'll certainly lose a significant amount of sales."

Randy Foy and his cousin Jerry are in the business together. Foy says he's grateful that another local grocer in Trenton is selling his crop again, but it's not nearly enough for his family to stay afloat. He says they plan to give away the unsellable crop, nearly 400 watermelons, to needy families.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by melon lover Location: eastern north carolina on Jul 9, 2010 at 08:36 AM
    Get real people if the stores with all their lawyers won't go against TV 12 and honor their agreement to buy the melons. What makes you think a small farmer has a chance. That's why channel 12 reported it before the results were in. If this had been a large company with lawyers to protect them it would have been handled differently. So another small farmer bites the dust. I just wonder how many times channel 12 can bully this store before they stand up for what's right.
  • by BabySealClubber Location: Channel 12 on Jul 8, 2010 at 05:17 AM
    To The Pirate Lady: I agree with you. I first thought such underhanded tactics must have been the work of WNCT - since they are "On your side" and all. :) But I guess Channel 12 is trying to take the cake in scare tactic journalism at the expense of local farmers just trying to get by. Maybe WNCT will step it up now and do a scare tactic story themselves. I can't even watch WNCT - they make it seem like you won't make it to work safely if you don't follow their tips for "How to buckle your seatbelt properly." Seriously - I don't need tips on how to lock my front door and walk to my car without tripping...That's why WITN is #1 and WCTI and WNCT are fighting to be #2!
  • by Justice on Jul 7, 2010 at 04:48 PM
    The trucking company hired to dispose of this contaminated soil will probalby bear all the responsibility. I would be surprised if the landowner approved of anything other than safe dirt to be dumped on their property. I can't see someone saying yes too: "can we illegally dump jetfuel contaminated dirt back in your field"? The trucking company/driver was taking a shortcut to save a lot of money from the costs of proper disposal. They knew what they were doing was illegal. The reporter should have left this farmers name out of the news unless he was involved in this illegal dumping. Some people just don't think before acting.
  • by for real Location: eastern nc on Jul 7, 2010 at 04:02 PM
    Before anyone goes feeling sorry for Mr Foy, find out whos land the contaminated fuel was dumped on and who ask them to bring it there.
  • by pete Location: grifton on Jul 7, 2010 at 02:21 PM
    THE FARM MOTTO: "If they don't glow they are good to go"
  • by The Pirate Lady Location: Grimesland on Jul 7, 2010 at 01:52 PM
    To BabySealClubber: that's interesting you were able to find the link. When I first heard about it, I just knew it had to be WNCT. Guess WCTI is trying to step it up, being in HD and all now, lol. I feel sorry for this farmer. If times aren't hard enough, so called journalists ruin this man's reputation and his money without evening having all the facts.
  • by Sam Location: Kitty Hawk on Jul 7, 2010 at 01:39 PM
    I agree with Justice. Randy, I'd get all those names and find a good lawyer if I were you. It sounds like you have been cheated very bad.
  • by Sonny Location: NC on Jul 7, 2010 at 11:18 AM
    No need to worry, the farmers in the area where I live are subsidized, you'll be ok.
  • by Allen Location: New Bern on Jul 7, 2010 at 08:10 AM
    Not the first time the station in question has damaged someone's reputation before getting the facts. Accurate and Reliable....NOT!
  • by vegdr Location: Georgia on Jul 7, 2010 at 07:46 AM
    If the "jet fuel" was contaminating the soil to any significant extent, the watermelon plants themselves should have shown some phytotoxicity symptoms. I think "getting sick" from the melons is a non-issue. I would think that the jet fuel would be acutely toxic and not have chronic effects.
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