In Guatemala, the locals are crafting a way to permanently honor David Warren, a man who helped pioneer that country’s melon and vegetable exports.
The founder of Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Central American Produce Inc., Warren also helped start the country’s growing and exporting of snow peas.
In helping launch the offshore melon and vegetable deal, many credit Warren for helping Guatemala’s agricultural industry, said son Michael Warren, Central American’s president.
After graduating from the University of Rhode Island in 1938, David Warren’s father, Nathan Warren, gave him a convertible and asked him to visit growing areas.
David Warren drove to Washington to view pears and apples and in Louisiana bought truckloads of strawberries at the auctions for his father to distribute through his Nathan Warren & Sons wholesaling businesses in Boston; Hartford, Conn.; and Providence, R.I.
Central American’s chief executive officer, he also served as a past advisory board member of the United Fresh Produce Association and helped the industry deal with labor problems involving Caesar Chavez.
In 1972, the 60-year-old Warren sold the family’s wholesale businesses.
A friend sparked his interest in working with the U.S. Agency for International Development to help undeveloped countries develop their agriculture.
Warren visited Haiti and other Central American countries to view opportunities for shipping fruits and vegetables to the U.S.
In Guatemala during the early 1970s, Warren saw melons being grown in an agricultural school and began working with some agriculturalists to help start a program for winter shipments to the U.S.
Seeing a small garden of snow peas at a friend’s home triggered him to encourage growers to make some money by growing small pieces of land.
Warren was the first to export snow peas from Guatemala to the U.S. and some of those growers became the country’s largest snow peas grower and exporter.
Warren’s work helped make the offshore melons and vegetable deal into what is today, Michael Warren said.
The elder Warren remains involved in projects, including growing and importing Guatemalan butternut squash.
It’s that passion for helping people that keeps him going.
“I find it very interesting to do this kind of work,” he said. “Helping the people down there understand the technical processes and the science and what it takes to do it and being able to help them do things on their own.”