“(W)we were the first state exchange with Israel. At the time that I left, there were 21 states that had their own memoranda of agreement with Israel. They weren’t all agriculture, some were commerce, some were technology. But we were the first that created a whole movement… There was funding from the Meadows Foundation to begin a demonstration farm in Laredo on the campus of what was then Laredo Junior College. .. We were trying to focus on the flowers for where there was a real market niche for Texas: the flowers that had a very short shelf life. …We were focused on irises and gladioli. Irises, as I recall, had a two- or three-day shelf life. Where was it that it was so important that they’d be grown close to market. …On that small acreage, you could grow high value crops using sustainability, because we also brought drip irrigation to Texas and modeled it in Laredo.”
Nancy Epstein was Director of Special Projects under Hightower. She managed the Texas-Israel Exchange Program, which was designed to demonstrate that Israel, which was on the same latitude as Texas, with a semi-arid and arid environment, was overcoming some of the issues Texas family farmers faced. It’s a very heavily agricultural state, where people work on very small plots of land, and they market together, and they’re making a living. The goal was to figure out how Texas could bring some of those methods, including drip irrigation and specialty crops, to help our family farmers stay on the farm, and earn a living and be ecological, sustainable and environmentally sound.