Live Well Alabama
Meaghan Robertson, SNAP-Ed educator in Clay and Talladega counties, understands the importance of yellow-meated watermelon to her area.
The fruit, which is sweeter than regular watermelon and has a yellow-shaded interior, is the centerpiece of a festival that typically draws thousands of people to Ashland, Alabama, in Clay County during the first week of August. However, because of COVID-19, the festival was canceled. Farmers planted the seeds in the spring, and the melons still needed to be harvested. Clay County farmers were left with hundreds of watermelons to sell, and without the festival, there wasn’t a great mechanism to do so.
Robertson, who is also the chairwoman of the Clay County Farmers Market, worked with Ashland Mayor Larry Fetner to develop a solution. Along with the help of several volunteers, their work resulted in a drive-in watermelon event where individuals could drive to the Ashland Square, purchase a watermelon from a farmer and go home — all without leaving their vehicle.
Robertson said volunteers at the event wore face masks, practiced social distancing, and adhered to proper hygiene. There were a few other vendors and a DJ playing music during the makeshift festival in August for those comfortable leaving their vehicles.
“We just made this our 2020 event, and it made the year a bit better by still doing something fun,” she said. “It was something to keep the spirits and morale of the town up.”
Reaching SNAP Recipients
During typical years, Robertson is a regular attendee at the Clay County Farmer’s market. She typically provides nutrition education and interacts with participants each week. She estimates that about 75 percent of the people who go to the farmer’s market each week are eligible for SNAP benefits. Many of those same individuals attended the drive-in event.
To find more success stories about SNAP-Ed educators, visit LiveWellAlabama.com.