HAYSVILLE, Kan. (KSNW) – Sporting a pair of overalls, standing outside his antique Ford truck filled with freshly picked watermelons is Kenneth Simons. The 88 year old may just be one of the most recognizable salesmen in south Wichita.
The second-generation watermelon farmer, known to many as the Watermelon Man, has made a name for himself in the produce space.
“I have raised watermelons forever,” said Simons.
Maybe not forever, but Simons has been in the watermelon business for decades. His father raised 100 acres a year in Oklahoma.
“I worked with him until he got old and had to quit and I didn’t have a sense enough to quit either, so I just kept going and I am still fooling with them,” Simons laughed.
At one point, Simons raised about 40 acres of watermelons and cantaloupes a year, selling them to big, box stores. He eventually found about five acres nestled behind Colonial Heights Church on south Broadway. That’s where he plants, picks, and sells his produce.
“I spend seven days a week out here, out here hoeing and cutting weeds, and I just love to see the beauty of them when they are growing good,” he said.
When the watermelons are ripe, Simons picks each one by hand. He then pulls his yellow Ford truck under a shade tree near the church parking lot and waits for eager customers to come to him.
“I don’t have to put out any signs. People are waiting for them. When they see that little yellow truck, they know the time has come,” Simons said.
That was definitely the case when KSN met with Simons on his first day of sales in 2021. Simons sold out of produce within a matter of minutes. Many customers said they waited all year for the watermelons.
“Because they taste so good. They are awesome. They a sweet. They are big,” said customer Kim Johnson.
“I don’t get rich out of it that’s for sure, but I enjoy doing it. I guess it keeps me going. I am 88 years old, and I am still doing all the work,” Simons said.
Simons said while he may not earn a lot of money farming the watermelons, his earnings come in watching his hard work leave in a happy customer’s arms.
How can you get your hands on some of Simons produce? Simons does not have a set selling schedule, however, his family regularly posts on the Haysville Happenings Facebook page to let people know when he has watermelons for sale.
Customers can find him under a shade tree at 5200 S Broadway St, Wichita, KS 67216. He should have product available until the first frost of the season.