Anthony Fizwater

Anthony Fitzwater holds a Red-and-Sweet heirloom watermelon.

A rare variety of heirloom watermelon could have gone extinct if not for the efforts of one 70-year-old Halifax gardening hobbyist and his watermelon aficionado son.

“I’m just a helper; I just help him out — he’s the boss,” said local resident Anthony Fitzwater, in reference to his son, Joshua.

Joshua Fitzwater

Joshua Fitzwater sits with a bushel of Red-and-Sweet watermelons.

Kerry Heafner

LSU horticulture extension agent Kerry Heafner poses at the Bell Haven Kids Farm in Calhoun, Louisiana by a small patch of Red-N-Sweet watermelons overseen by him in 2021.

Seeds

Red-and-Sweet heirloom watermelon seeds are stored in a container.

Watermelon inside

The bright, vermillion red color is a signature of a Red-and-Sweet watermelon.

Watermelon

A ripe Red-and-Sweet watermelon is grown in Halifax County.

Sean Barker is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at sbarker@gazettevirginian.com.

Staff writer

Sean Barker is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at sbarker@gazettevirginian.com.