Keeping Texas Big,
Wide and Open
Created by landowners for landowners, TALT's mission is to protect private working lands, thus conserving Texas’ heritage of wide open spaces.
Photo © D.K. Langford
Larry Mellenbruch’s lifelong involvement in agriculture has been multi-faceted. Working with both sides of his family, he’s gained hands-on experience with farming citrus and cotton in the Valley, running registered cattle in the Brush Country and Central Texas, farming dryland cotton and grain sorghum in Central Texas, helping farm wheat in the Panhandle, and growing pecans in the Colorado River bottom.
“I appreciate the commitment of individuals who strive for the profitable production of food and fiber, while maintaining good stewardship of the land,” said Larry, an electrical engineer who spent 37 years as a research scientist with the Applied Research Laboratories at UT-Austin, while remaining actively engaged in agriculture. “The diversity of our state, due to soils, climate, and terrain are uniquely capable of producing certain agricultural products and should be preserved for that purpose. Food and fiber production are not something that we should outsource to foreign countries.”
Having spent much of his adult life in small farming communities adjacent to Austin, Larry has seen the effects of urban sprawl and fragmentation first-hand. In fact, SH 130 was sited through a portion of his family’s Pflugerville farm, prompting his wife and him to relocate their historic family home.
“Fragmentation is one of the greatest threats to agriculture and quality of life,” said Larry, who is former president of the Travis County Farm Bureau. “Since open space is something most people desire for quality of life, many government entities try to achieve this by purchasing areas to prevent development. This frequently results in land being removed from the tax rolls and maintained at government expense with no productivity. By maintaining agricultural operations, the open space continues without government expense and a usable, sellable product is created.”
Larry, who has also contributed his expertise to the Pflugerville Chamber of Commerce and the Manville Water Supply Corporation, was attracted to TALT because of its practical applicability.