I read a story on the NYT today. A public servant turns into the American Dream, Oh my God this makes the American in me well up. I love this guy.
A public servant for 30 years – no, not the military, but the LA Department of Water and Power – Tony Dighera bought a small farm more than a decade ago known for growing avocados.
After he read a story about square watermellons hailing from Japan, where else, he started experimenting on his own. Square watermellons turned to heart watermellons turned to branded (inc. Whole Foods – I told you, this guy’s the American dream) watermellons.
Truly amazing is how this guy generalized a molded produce to something that takes advantage of the holiday consumerism that really brings in cash: Dighera spent over 4 years, $400,000 and 27 varieties of pumpkins to perfect a Frankestein head shaped one – which he calls pumpkinsteins.
This season he did it, harvesting rougly 5500 of them at a wholesale price of $75. Retailers wanted to charge upwards of $100. Reaction was quick; they were selling, competitors were jealous, trespassers came in the dark of the night – perhaps to steal the produce, perhaps to steal the process?
Next year he plans on dedicating his entire land to pumkinsteins, hoping to harvest 30K – 40K of them. It’s easier than watermellons, he says, because no one cares how they taste.
$100 gourds that rot, all in the name of a consumerish American holiday.