Hilltop Gardens... is a tropical healing garden and organic farm located in the center of the Tamaulipan Biotic Province, a huge area in South Texas and northern Mexico along the Rio Grande River. It is semi-tropical with warm winters and semi-arid with hot, dry summers.
Hilltop Gardens farm was first planted with aloe in 1939 and is one of the first commercial Aloe farms in the country. Hilltop Gardens is believed to be the first business using Aloe Vera gel as an ingredient in cosmetics. It is the historical home of aloe. Hilltop Gardens is currently striving to serve the Econet , our parent company, by developing procedures for growing organic ingredients- vegetable, herbs and fruits, all for the myriad of nutraceutical products produced by the Econet. Sustainable farming and gardening processes will bring to the forefront our corporate philosophy “to bring the best of nature to humankind”.
Exhibits include a Sensory Walk, a Healing Garden, a Memorial Aloe Garden with one of the largest collections of aloe species available for public viewing in the U.S. and a large Children’s Garden for kid in all of us.
Founded in 1939 by Lee and Sherman Ewald, Hilltop Gardens, among the first commercial Aloe vera farms in the U.S., started on 100 acres north of LaVilla. The Ewalds built their farmhouse atop a small knoll and named the property Hilltop Gardens for its rolling topography. Lee Ewald recognized the medical properties of Aloe vera and pioneered its commercial production in the Rio Grande Valley. Hilltop Gardens was incorporated in 1959 and became part of the global health industry.
Lee developed cosmetics using Aloe vera gel with the help of her two daughters. She sold this under the name Phyllis Ann Lee Sales, incorporated in 1962. Hilltop Gardens is believed to be the first business using Aloe vera gel as an ingredient in cosmetics. The Ewald family sold Hilltop Gardens in 1976 to R.C. Benson who moved from Houston to grow Aloe vera, by 1981, Benson was growing over 200,000 Aloe plants on the property. In 1988, an Econet company named Aloecorp purchased Hilltop Gardens. It became part of 13 companies named Econet, one of the world’s largest and most technologically advanced producers of Aloe vera.
The farm operation has become organic and serves the Econet and the wider farming community by developing procedures for organic farming. In 2012 Hilltop Gardens opened to the general public. Hilltop Gardens also contracted a grower in South Africa, where Aloe vera originates from, to supply over 200 species of Aloe which are now growing on the farm. Hilltop Gardens represents the largest collection of species of Aloe in the U.S.
Texas State Historical Marker Inscription 2014