As Belgium swelters under tropical temperatures, soon to be followed by tropical rain, the fruit and vegetable consortium BelOrta is now bringing to market melons grown in the tropical soil of Limburg.
The melons are of the Cavaillon sort, named for the commune in the Vaucluse department in south-eastern France. However the fruit – actually a sort of berry – is now also grown in Spain, and to ensure late-season provision, in Morocco.
Kristof Reweghs is a grower in Limburg province, on the border between Hoeselt and Diepenbeek, and is known for his production of strawberries from ten covered tunnels, each 70 ares in size – a total area about one-fifth the size of Vatican City.
The transplantation of melons to Limburg was the brainchild of Kris Jans, fruit manager for BelOrta.
“The melon is part of our search for new fruits,” he told De Standaard.
“We get to broaden our range while the fruit farmers can increase their income by producing multiple crops. Melon cultivation is also climate-friendly in a different way. We now offer a product locally for which we don’t have to organise freight transport from a thousand kilometres away. With a short chain between harvest and shop, the taste of the melon is also guaranteed and the customer will certainly appreciate that.”
But the Limburg melons will not take the place of their southern cousins.
“The current crop of our BelOMelon project accounts for ten thousand cavaillons in three weight classes,” said BelOrta sales representative Miguel Demaeght.
“That of course can’t replace current imports. We will be supplying a limited number of supermarkets throughout the season. That way we can also see whether our Belgian melon is permanently appreciated. We will consider whether the Belgian melon will become a permanent crop after two years.”