The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) has been promoting sustainable living for over 35 years. Established in 1976, they are a national nonprofit that helps people by championing small-scale, local, and sustainable solutions to reduce poverty, promote healthy communities, and protect natural resources. NCAT was originally created during the oil crisis of the 1970s to develop inexpensive energy-saving strategies for low-income communities. In 1987, as a natural outgrowth of their alternative and sustainable energy work for farmers and ranchers, they expanded their mission to include sustainable agriculture. Every day, NCAT helps individuals find solutions that will ensure our children and grandchildren inherit a world with cleaner air and water, efficient and renewable energy production, and healthy foods grown with sustainable techniques. They have a well-deserved national reputation for providing research-based technical assistance and information in the fields of sustainable agriculture, sustainable energy, and community development. In recent years, their agriculture work has also focused on small-scale intensive farming, urban farming, and local foods; assistance to small farmers, beginning and new farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers, and veterans wishing to become farmers.
Robert is a Sustainable Agriculture Specialist with three years of experience in the NCAT Southwest Regional Office. He was an organic vegetable farmer in South Texas and Mexico in the 1970’s and 1980’s before joining the Texas Department of Agriculture as a Direct Marketing Specialist in 1985. He was the first staff person in the TDA Marketing Division to be assigned to their efforts to start an organics certification program in 1987 and in 1989 Texas became the second state in the country to have its own organics certification program. In 1991 Robert became the Chief of Marketing in the San Antonio Regional Office of TDA, supervising four marketing specialists. He served in that position for the next 20 years and developed extensive contacts in Texas with individual producers, retailers, wholesalers, restaurants and specialty crop trade associations. Robert has authored or co-authored several publications here at NCAT including Drought and Disaster Resources for Texas Producers and Organic Specialty Crop Production in Texas: A Grower’s Handbook. He was also co-author of the Feasibility Study for a Texas Organic Food Hub.