Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp., parent company of Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes restaurants, invites its “farm-to-table” farmers to help share the “Discover Fresh” brand message that is central to the restaurants nearly 40-year tradition of bringing real farm-to-table freshness to guests.
Souplantation invited one of its fresh watermelon farmers to share his unique history as another example of four decades of working with local farmers to truly bring fresh to the table. On June 16, 2016 Mira Mesa Souplantation hosted the event where Arthur Saikhon, a third generation watermelon farmer and owner of Saikhon Company with his family in attendance, spoke with guests about his farm.
Arthur recently began supplying watermelons to Souplantation. For the whole month of June, guests in Southern CA are able to enjoy Arthur’s watermelons. Vegetables, hay and grains are also grown on his approximately 1,800 acre farm in Brawley, CA.
Saikhon Company and Souplantation gave free watermelons to guests as part of the “Meet the Watermelon Farmer” experience event. Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp. CEO John Morberg accompanied Arthur as they shared their mutual commitment to farm-to-table freshness to guests. Diners from all ages had questions for Arthur.
Q. How do you grow watermelons?
A. We start by planting seeds in a greenhouse and then transplant to the field where we water as needed and then harvest as our growers check to be sure each watermelon is ripe. Once we pick the watermelons, we sort them according to size and then ship to our respective customers.
Q. Where do you grow the watermelons?
A. We have between 320 and 350 acres in two areas of Southern California — near Brawley and Bakersfield — where we grow watermelons in the United States.
Q. Besides Souplantation, where do you sell your watermelons?
A. We also sell to grocery stores, like Ralph’s and Von’s and club stores, like Costco and Sam’s Club.
Q. Do watermelons require a lot of water to grow?
A. No, watermelons don’t require a lot of water, but we do have to water them. They grow best in hot climates of just over 100 degrees and that is why we grow them in two desert areas of California.
Q. Why are there scars on the watermelon?
A. The vines from the wind create the scarring on the watermelons.
Tips for picking the right watermelon:
- Look the watermelon over. You are looking for a ﬁrm, symmetrical watermelon that is free from bruises, cuts or dents.
- The watermelon should be heavy for its size. Watermelon is 92% water and most of the weight is water.
- The underside of the watermelon should have a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun. If it is white or not there, this could indicate that it’s not ripe.
- A dull sound could indicate that it’s overripe.
Arthur had a great time meeting guests and answering questions about his farm. “Before coming to the restaurant, I had no idea just how much guests were eager to speak to farmers. From one little boy asking me how I grow watermelons to another family that actually asked me to autograph a watermelon, we had a great time interacting with folks who seemed genuinely interested in how we plant, grow, harvest and ship our products to Souplantation.”
The next time you buy a watermelon, see where it came from. It could be from Saikhon Company. And the T logo you see on the sticker, it actually represents the first letter of each name of Arthur and Karen Saikhon’s children.
Being a part of Club Veg member has a fun perk in addition to the money saving coupons and menu alerts; get notifications of the upcoming events in your city! So, if you were in San Diego and missed the Meet the Farmer experience, or in another city and looking forward to events coming to your town, sign up for Club Veg! http://souplantation.com/clubveg_rsys/join.aspx
The National Watermelon Promotion Board provided brochures to give a fascinating approach on watermelons:
“Watermelon adds the perfect touch to savory dishes and makes an amazing dessert. So think beyond the refreshing summertime slices and afternoon picnics. Toss it on the grill, wow a crowd with carving, and keep your family hydrated. Add refreshing fun to all your meals with sweet and nutritious watermelon!”
Recipes included Watermelon Taboule Stacks with Grilled Chicken, Tropical Watermelon Cilantro Salsa, and Grilled Scallop and Watermelon Kebab. Creative carving ideas such as Outrigger Canoe for a Luau, Turtle, and Shark. To get more unique recipes, carving ideas, and information about watermelons, visit the NWPB at www.watermelon.org
Did you meet the watermelon farmer Arthur? How was the experience?
We’d like to know and share it with Arthur!
In an upcoming posting, we will share the Saikhon Company farm history.