Pauline Medrano

“We went door-to-door into the different neighborhoods and found out neighborhood associations, PTAs, we promoted them however we could. It was grassroots. It was churches, PTAs, neighborhood associations, neighborhood groups. We’d say, ‘We want to start a farmers market. What would be a good day? What would be a good morning?’ Olmos Park (San Antonio) said, Monday morning. And that’s […]

Pete McRae (D)

“In 1985 is when the entire ag industry, business leaders decided to come after Hightower and attempt to defund the agency in various components. Those guys hated (John) Vlcek and hated the marketing program. They just thought we were nuts and that Hightower was nuts by focusing on small farmers, which of course was exactly what Farmers Union wanted. Vlcek […]

Mack Martinez

“I think Hightower has pushed and has made some headway, it’s an ‘us’ issue. Until we’ve all crossed that line, until we’re all equal, ain’t none of us equal. I think that came across, and that’s why he was respected by African American leaders and by Hispanic leaders. It wasn’t an accident that John Vlcek also happened to be gay. […]

Jim Marston

“Hiring an openly gay guy to do important work and interact with folks – it’s kind of a statement that the Department of Agriculture hadn’t had before. Our state government was generally very white, male, straight but the Ag Department was really that way. We started hiring people who didn’t go to Texas A&M. That was a shock to many, […]

Thressa Lockridge-Ali

“The story of the Department is really a big story. Before (Jim) Hightower took over, that agency was pretty white. There weren’t very many minorities in that agency and that’s one of the things that was a real concern to Hightower…I feel like, if you have a more diverse department, then you have a better department, because you have a […]

Karen Haram

“He (Hightower) was such an enthusiastic promoter, and that he did such a good job getting the word out about Texas foods and Texas wines. California was always the end-all, be-all with the whole California food movement. Suddenly, we were doing the same thing here in Texas, with more personality. I think we sold it better, frankly. What I remember […]

Rebecca Flores

“In July of 1988, Cesar (Chavez) started a fast, and he call it the Fast for Life. And this was really around the issue of pesticides, because he had seen that even though we’d been talking about it and we knew there were cancer clusters and we knew children were dying at a very, very young age. They’re like 10,11 […]

Kate Fitzgerald

“(M)y mandate from Hightower…was: “Do something with existing resources within TDA to help create new markets for farmers and at the same time address hunger.” …In the same way that agriculture was becoming concentrated, the grocery store industry was becoming concentrated…The effect it had was the creation of what’s now known as the food desert. (Hightower) saw it as a […]

Nancy Epstein

“(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 […]

Robert del Grande

“Jim Hightower was the more eloquent voice of all of us and drew us all together. It helped everything because we all concluded that we were individuals but we would be better if we all worked together as a group. I remember saying that one restaurant cannot support one purveyor. The purveyor, the grower, the farmer need multiple people so […]