John Hastings began farming with his father Jim in the mid 1960s and later created what is known today as Lakeside Farms, which is located in Laurel, Delaware. The two grew many different crops including sweet corn, tomatoes, pickling cucumbers, string beans, watermelons, cantaloupes as well as grain crops.
As the farm has always strived for a diversified operation, growing watermelons continues to be the staple of the farm. The Hastings family has been entrenched in the watermelon industry for over 50 years, being one of the original members of the Historic Laurel Auction Market and long time supporters and members of the Mar-Del Watermelon Association.
In 2005, John was given the award for outstanding service to the Delaware vegetable industry and in 2006 the Hastings were named Farm Family of the Year by the Delaware Farm Bureau. In 2000 the third generation of the Hastings Family joined Lakeside Farms when John’s son Travis joined the operation and farmed full time with his father for seven years until John tragically passed away in 2007.
Travis is currently president of Lakeside Farms and is on the board of directors for both the Mar-Del Watermelon Association and the Delaware Soybean Board. He continues to work the land that has been passed down through three generations and hopes to one day pass the land down to his son.
In 2008 John was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding service to the Mar-Del Watermelon Association which was accepted by his family.
In 1955, Donald Hales began laying the foundation for what would become Hales Farms, when he was 16 years old. While growing up on the family farm in Salisbury, MD, Donald worked side by side with his father, Rueben, and it didn’t take him long to figure out that the key to success was diversity. So he started out much the same way his father had taught him by growing corn, soybeans, wheat, cantaloupes, tomatoes, peppers, string beans, peas, potatoes, cucumbers, strawberries and watermelons. He quickly earned a reputation of being a vegetable farmer and had great success selling his produce to the many roadside stands and farmers markets that blanketed the Eastern Shore.
In order to meet the demand he would have to plant a few more cantaloupes and a few more watermelons each season. In the late 1950’s he joined together with other watermelon growers from Maryland and Delaware to form the Mar-Del Watermelon Association. In 1981, Donald teamed up with Sun World, an innovative company out of Bakersfield, CA, and was a driving force in jumpstarting the seedless watermelon movement on the east coast. Donald served as President of the National Watermelon Association from 1988 – 1990. After his term as President ended he was appointed by the U. S. Secretary of Agriculture to serve on the newly founded National Watermelon Promotion Board, where he would serve two consecutive three year terms. In 1996 his son, Will, became a partner in the family farm and is following in his father’s footsteps.
Today, Hales Farms is best known for their seedless watermelons but they also grow corn, soybeans, wheat, cantaloupes, tomatoes, peppers, and a few strawberries. Currently, Will serves on the board of directors for the Mar-Del Watermelon Association as well as the National Watermelon Association and the National Watermelon Promotion Board. Today, the Father and Son team are still farming together side by side while giving their best effort to bring the respect to agriculture that it deserves.