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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