“We had a guy that came in from the Dallas area. He had no farming background, but he had married into a family that’s local here… “My family has land not far from Prairie View, and we want to get into watermelons.” He created a supply chain. What he had done was go out and develop some markets with Luby’s. He signed an agreement with Luby’s and a couple of stores, and Luby’s said they would buy all you can produce. We helped them form a co-op. We helped them get a storage building, and that lasted for a while. That’s been an ongoing process.”
Dr. Al Parks worked with the Texas Department of Agriculture to organize the Hempstead Watermelon Coop, one of the early successes in opening up markets to small farmers through coops. He was a speaker at the Black Farmer Conferences, focusing on how to make the land profitable, understanding the value of the property, and why they should hang on to it. He also highlighted the problems if black farmers died without a will. The land became “heir” property, and thus very difficult to get all the heirs to agree. The Texas A&M University System (TAMUS) Board of Regents recently named Dr. Al Parks, professor at Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) as a recipient of the Regents Professor Award. Parks was named a 2021 Fellow by the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association — the organization’s most prestigious honor.