Unusual hobby sweeps backwater Amarr system

New Eden News | YC109-07-18

NAHOL - An unusual hobby has taken the small, backwater Amarr system of Nahol by storm; Thousands of Amarrians have begun growing sweet pod melons. Everyone, from young children to even a few Holders have begun growing the melons and competing each other to see who can grow the largest melons in the fastest period of time.

The sweet pod melon is a native of the lush jungles of Intaki Prime. It has a dark yellowish skin and elongated, round shape. For centuries, the fruit has been harvested and consumed by Intaki who continue to live on the planet. The flesh is very sweet, frequently likened to honey in flavor. In addition, it is an excellent source of nutrition, providing numerous essential vitamins and minerals. However, until recently, it has defied cultivation off the planet.

This changed only a few years ago, when scientists discovered that the melons require a very specific blend of nutrients that is only natural to the soil in the jungles it is native to. Since the discovery, the melon has found itself among the gardens of numerous companies, seeking to capitalize on the popular fruit and provide it cheaply to large amounts of people. As such, the price of the melons has plummeted, such that now even the poorest can afford to eat it, and has fallen out of the minds of executives as a high-return cash crop.

The melon's popularity among the Amarr of Nahol exploded several months ago, when a popular local religious authority, Father Mendlev Sho praised it as a good symbol for the Empire. In a thirty minute sermon dedicated to the fruit, he is quoted as having said, among other things, "The fruit, though having a hardened, rough, golden exterior contains a sweet inside that is vital to survival. As the fruit has been embraced by the galaxy, so too must the Empire."

Since that sermon, people have started growing the melon as both a hobby and competitive activity. Many people keep small pots in their homes where they grow a single vine of the melon. The melon takes approximately three months to mature to full size, at which point it is ready to eat.

Many people have gone further than growing the fruit to eat, however, turning growing it into a competition. It started, a month ago, when a fifteen kilogram sweet pod melon was brought to a local market by an unidentified woman. The melon was also nearly one meter in diameter and one and a half meters long. Since then, several other growers have beat the size, diameter, and length of the melon, though none have managed to beat all three with the same one.

Holder Trias Cole, a minor noble on Nahol III, offered a prize of 9000 ISK to whomever could beat the record-setting melon. This prize sparked a frenzy among the populace, who immediate bought supplies to grow their own.

Because of the specialized growing requirements of the melon, mass amounts of fertilizer are needed to get it anywhere near the proper size required. Because of this, prices of fertilizer have skyrocketed in Nahol, shooting up nearly 25% above their regional average in the past few days. Normal farmers are relatively unaffected by the price increase, as they generally have contracts with established hauling firms from whom they buy in bulk. The average person, however, has no such luxury and normally require much less fertilizer.

The station manager of the Amarr Constructions station in Nahol, Frieda Yat, has been acting as a go-between for local sellers and the outside market. She is currently purchasing fertilizer at 235 ISK a unit in order to divvy it up and resell to the individual sweet pod melon growers in the system.