Though people often inspire me, very rarely am I fortunate enough to meet someone who makes an everlasting impression on me. I can say with every certainty that Vern Switzer aka The Watermelon Man had me at hello, or actually when he declared that mushrooms are "like some people - they're left in the dark and fed shit." The van that Vern drives reads "history making farming author on the move" across it. He is an established farmer located in Rural Hall, NC who is known not only for the juicy watermelons that he grows but also for the children's books he's written. Vern travels with his books to classrooms around the US in hopes of reunited youth with farming as a sustainable means of living. He says God came to him in his sleep one night and told him to write a book called "Puffy the Watermelon." Now three books later, and with two more in the works, he has no intention of stopping. Sounds like a pretty eccentric character hmm? Someone so unique that there should to be a movie made about them? Matt thought so! Watermelon Man, a short documentary, world premiered a little over a week ago at the Florida Film Festival, and the man himself was in attendance for the weekend and my goodness, was he ever the belle of the ball! Sporting either a homemade watermelon suit or overalls with a watermelon bow-tie and an "I Walk By Faith" trucker hat, Vern charmed the pants off of every person he met.
Vern's first day at the Enzian Theater.
All dolled up for opening night party, and ready to introduce Orlando to The Watermelon Man.
I'm not gonna lie - the ladies loved him, and he LOOOOVED the ladies!
Matt, Vern, Kenneth (co-producer and camera man), and I being silly at the opening night party.
My best girls, Wendy and Anna, pimping out Vern's books after the screening!
Vern with Charles, a cook at the Enzian Theater, where they created dishes throughout the course of the festival using collard greens and sweet potatoes straight from Vern's farm.
A few key moments from Vern's visit to Orlando...
Portrait by the bestest ever local photographer, Eric Sutton.
I vote for "Watermelon Man: Part Deux" just to get Vern back to Orlando! I especially miss taking him to my hangout, Stardust Video & Coffee, where he promptly asked me why the sweet tea and fried chicken was suspiciously absent from the menu (which was followed by us explaining to him how tempeh is made). We miss him already.
"Give a man a slice of watermelon, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to grow his own, he'll eat for a lifetime." - Vern Switzer