Texas Tropical Trail Region held its 95th monthly Partner Event in Raymondville and Lyford, Willacy County, Texas. We had 43 persons with us throughout the day (including 9 first-time attendees) representing 17 cities/towns and 10 counties in South Texas.
We explored the diversity of Willacy County including the tropical healing gardens and “historical home of Aloe”; a wind farm, with ties to Denmark, which produces enough clean energy to power 60,000 households; and the unique training center designed to assist new businesses, offer college courses and jobs to Willacy County residents.
Before we all headed home at the end of the day, we learned about “preservation” of a different sort than we are accustomed to, enjoyed a cold drink of hibiscus flower ice tea and gotten a close-up look at those 150 ft long aerodynamic blades that generate the power at the wind farm!
Raymondville Rural Technical Center
This small business center (officially called the Raymondville Rural Technical Skills Incubator Center) is available to assist start-up and growing companies by offering a professional office setting at reasonable prices coupled with various support mechanisms such as the Raymondville Chamber of Commerce, Workforce Solutions, the Raymondville EDC and UT Brownsville and Texas Southmost College as in-house consultants.
E.ON Energy’s Magic Valley Wind Farm
One hundred and twelve Vestas turbines, each standing 262 ft tall, dot the landscape just east of Raymondville providing an alternative means of electricity through AEP. E.ON Energy built these “wind mills” about one year ago as the 150-ft blades were shipped in through the Port of Brownsville while others were trucked in from Colorado.
Vestas Wind Systems is a Danish manufacturer of wind turbines headquartered in Aarhus, Denmark. We will have an opportunity to tour the wind farm and enjoy a presentation by E.ON representative Tracy Deadman, site supervisor.
Hilltop Gardens, Historical Home of Aloe
Hilltop Gardens is a tropical healing garden and organic farm located west of Lyford. The farm was first planted with aloe in 1939 and is one of the first commercial Aloe farms in the country. Exhibits include a Sensory Walk, a Healing Garden, a Memorial Aloe Garden with one of the largest collection of aloe species for public viewing in the United States and a large, interactive Children’s Garden.
Inscription on historic plaque. Historical Hilltop Gardens. Lee Ewald (1897 – 1981) and her husband Sherman Ewardl (d1971) purchased 100 acres south of La Villa in 1939. Recognizing the medicinal property of Aloe Vera, Lee Eward pioneered in its commercial production in the Rio Grande Valley. She incorporated Hilltop gardens in 1955. Other growers followed her lead. Assisted by her daughter, chemist Phyllis Schmidt, she developed cosmetics using Aloe Vera gel, which she sold under the name Phyllisann Lee Sales, Incorporated in 1962. Hilltop Gardens is believed to be the first business using Aloe Vera Gel as an ingredient in cosmetics. Under the visionary and creative direction of Yunho Lee (d1996), Chairman of the board of Namyang Aloe of Seoul, Korea and Aloecorp of Harlingen, the next generation of scientific advancement began in earnest at Aloecorp. The world’s largest and most technologically advanced producer of Aloe Vera, Aloecorp purchased Hilltop Gardens in 1988. Mrs. Lee Ewald is the pioneer of the aloe industry and its future care and watchguard was placed in the hands of Aloecorp who will continuously follow her footsteps. B. William Lee, President & CEO of Aloecorp.
Queen Butterfly (Danaus gilippus).
Thanks to our sponsors for the day: Raymondville Chamber of Commerce, Hilltop Gardens Aloe Farm and Botanical Gardens, E.ON Energy Magic Valley Wind Farm and Raymondville EDC.
Thanks to our tour guides and speakers: Elma Chavez, Executive Director, Raymondville Chamber of Commerce, Paul Thornton, Botanical Gardens Manager, Catalina Ozuna, Executive Director, Raymondville EDC and Tracy Deadman, site supervisor E.ON Energy Magic Valley Wind Farm.