Rocky Ford Growers Association™ is made up of family farmers who look forward to passing their knowledge and experience on to the next generation.
Water is our most precious resource. We conserve it through the use of drip irrigation and buried lines that put the water directly under the melons’ roots. We use mulch to prevent evaporation from above. And we monitor water quality to ensure that the Arkansas River continues to be a healthy water source for irrigation, recreation and wildlife.
State-of-the-art GPS technology precisely guides our tractors and equipment in a technique called “sub-inch farming” where the machines don’t deviate more than an inch along each row in our fields.
We rely on our farm workers to plant, tend and harvest our crops. Many of the same workers return- year after year- critical experience which helps us bring the best, most perfectly ripe melons to market. All workers have access to safe, clean portable restrooms and hand-washing facilities in the fields, and clean drinking water. We appreciate their hard work and dedication to growing the best melons in the world.
We are committed to the safety and integrity of our produce. Cantaloupe grown by Rocky Ford Growers Association™ members have had a perfect safety record since 1887. When you see the Rocky Ford Growers Association™/Hirakata Farms sticker you will know our cantaloupes, watermelons, and honeydews have been grown and packaged following stringent, national safety procedures.
Every grower member of the Rocky Ford Growers Association™ has agreed to a risk assessment and/or audit review of their farms. This includes strict adherence to USDA Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices (GHP). In addition, the Rocky Ford Growers Association™ follows FDA food safety (FSMA) rules.
Our Safety Procedures
- Safety Audits. Rocky Ford Growers Association™ meets all federal guidelines. Member farms are required to pass two USDA audits, including one unannounced audit.
- New Packing Shed. Our lead packer, Hirakata Farms, built a new, state-of-the-art packing shed and installed new cleaning and cooling technology and equipment. This includes an advanced washing/chlorination sanitation system that provides a microbial soap shower (with chlorine oxide) and a final soap rinse to our cantaloupe. We monitor water quality hourly during processing. High-output air coolers then quickly cool the field-heated melons to reduce condensation and potential bio problems.
- Safe Handling. Trailers are segregated and only carry Rocky Ford Cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydews, and pumpkins. No animals or other produce is carried in these trailers.
- Safety Manager. Hirakata Farms employs a full-time food safety manager to insure that GAP/GHP and USDA requirements are being met and monitored.
- Scan Technology. Carton insert card with QR Code scan technology. Hirakata Farms is tracking the cantaloupe from seed planting to supermarket. Each box has a QR code that, when scanned, will detail the journey of that Rocky Ford Cantaloupe from field to consumer.
- Training and Inspection. All member farms field workers and shed employees have been trained on safety policies. Field inspections are conducted daily.
Safety is Your Responsibility Too
To ensure the safest eating experience, please make sure you follow these simple steps when preparing your melons:
- RINSE – Rinse under running water.
- SCRUB – Scrub with a clean produce brush.
- DRY – Dry with a clean cloth or paper towel.
- CUT – With a clean knife.