Luling Foundation

By: Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: March 1, 1995

In 1926 Edgar B. Davis set aside a million dollars to establish a demonstration farm to benefit the farmers and stock raisers of Caldwell, Gonzales, and Guadalupe counties. The Luling Foundation, which was to manage the trust, was chartered on June 6, 1927, and was controlled by a board of seven trustees and operated by a general manager. The farm was located on 1,223 acres of an old cotton plantation west of Luling. Its purpose was to demonstrate commonsense conservation and farming techniques that any farmer could put into practice on his land. Areas were set aside for field crops, pecan and fruit trees, pastures, and livestock. The farm experimented with new crops, crop rotation, fence types, mechanized equipment, pesticides, fertilizers, and feed storage, as well as with raising dairy and beef cattle, hogs, sheep, and poultry. Although open to new ideas, the foundation insisted that the farm be operated like a business; only the programs and techniques that proved profitable were allowed to continue. The foundation shared information about techniques and results through field days, demonstrations, farm magazines and newspapers, speeches to local organizations, and radio spots and made the seed for new, proven crop varieties available to farmers at very reasonable cost.

The foundation opened an agricultural training school for boys in 1937, and about 140 students completed the program before it was suspended because of World War II in 1941. An educational program for veterans began in 1946; although it was extremely successful for several years it was discontinued in 1952, when enrollment fell. The foundation also established a miniature farm as an outdoor laboratory for local schools, 4-H clubs, scout troops, and vocational agriculture classes. One of its most popular projects, in the years prior to home freezers, was to lease freezer lockers to area residents for storage of meat and produce. The Luling Foundation was in large part responsible for persuading area farmers not to rely on a one-crop economy, but rather to spread their risks by diversifying their interests with proven agricultural projects. It has earned international recognition for its work, and several thousand people visit the facility each year.

Riley Froh, Edgar B. Davis: Wildcatter Extraordinary (Luling, Texas: Luling Foundation, 1984). Zona Adams Withers, A History of the Luling Foundation, 1927–1982 (Lockhart, Texas: Lockhart Graphics, 1982).


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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl, “Luling Foundation,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 17, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 1, 1995