By Horace McQueen
Why not "truck farming"? We have the soils, the markets and plenty of advisors who can make raising fruits and vegetables profitable. Not that long ago, many of our parents and grandparents made a living from the family farm. What could not be sold at home was shipped to farmers markets in Dallas and Houston. There buyers lined up to buy farm-fresh peas, beans, tomatoes, peaches, plums, potatoes, melons, sweet corn and many other products of our East Texas. Produce sheds were all over our part of Texas—and were used to sort, cull and ship train loads of quality products to far off markets.
Our county extension agents have tried long and hard to get our folks - younger ones especially - to put seed and plants in the ground, nurture the crop and sell locally. We have plenty of opportunities to sell farm-fresh produce here at home. With larger farmers markets nearby in Lufkin, Tyler and Longview housewives line up when those markets are open. Right down the road, we have markets in Houston and Anderson - and nearby counties - to sell our produce.
What is the holdup? One good friend says too many of our able-bodied citizens are getting freebies without doing any work that would raise a sweat. She says she sees the biggest problems as being food stamps, government-paid housing, free cell phones and all the other "assistance programs". She added that many people aren't hungry enough to work at raising food.
Then there are those who have a love for raising their own fruits and vegetables. These are the backyard farmers who need to step out, increase the size of their gardens and merchandise the excess at a profit. With a roto-tiller - or small tractor - a water source for irrigation in dry weather and some manual labor, there are lots of dollars to be made even from a small truck patch.
One East Texan says that government programs provide billions of dollars to support the grain and cotton industry - along with ethanol and wind farms. Why not use some of this taxpayer money to help small farmers build a profitable truck farming business. Our Extension agents are ready to help build a truck farming industry in East Texas - now it's up to our "green thumb" gardeners to start to work! That's –30 - this week.