MOTHER's Celebration of Eco-Friendly, Back-to-the-Land People

MOTHER EARTH NEWS showcases eco-friendly, back-to-the-land people who have made a difference in the world.


| September/October 1982



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Mr. Orange (far right in the photo) guided his students in the construction of their school's flourishing greenhouse . . . and encouraged them to take part in the organization of neighborhood tree plantings.


PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

In celebration of little-known eco-friendly, back-to-the-land MOTHER-type folks from all over. 

HERB ORANGE: A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN

Orchards in the Big Apple? Well, that notion doesn't sound so farfetched to folks who've been fortunate enough to meet Mr. Herb Orange. You see, from 1975 to 1978 Herb had the distinction of being the only agriculture teacher in Brooklyn, New York . . . and as such, the Edward R. Murrow High School instructor created a program that gave many inner-city youths their first exposure to horticulture.

Mr. Orange guided his students in the construction of their school's flourishing greenhouse . . . and encouraged them to take part in the organization of neighborhood tree plantings. In addition, the teenagers gained hands-on experience as they assisted workers from the National Park Service and the New York City Parks and Recreation Department in the maintenance and restoration of public grounds. As a native New Yorker, Herb has long been convinced that gardens could replace a large portion of the city's estimated 24,000 acres of vacant land . . . and his courses have already helped fill the ranks of community associations that undertake such tasks as transforming brick-and-rubble-strewn lots into productive vegetable plots.

In 1978 Herb bid farewell to the Empire State, since he'd been chosen to head the Clark College horticulture department in Vancouver, Washington. But he left behind a good many enlightened students . . . and an agriculture program that promises to continue showing the way to young urbanites of the future. — Eric Freedman.

RICHARD THOMAS: PEAT HEAT AND ALCOHOL POWER

Three years ago Richard Thomas returned to Canada from Finland with a wealth of knowledge about the Scandinavian peat industry. And, upon arriving home in Kearney, Ontario, the farmer went to work to drain his own peat bog, using the techniques he'd learned from the Finns. But the Old World process called for a year's wait, after the draining was done, before the substance could be harvested, and Richard was impatient. So, on an impulse, he set about mining the peat long before it had had time to cure properly . . . and was rewarded with countless globs of gray muck. The Canadian wasn't discouraged, however. He had a knack for improvising and promptly put it to use: Richard hung the fuel-to-be in a suspended net. Before long the material had dried and was heating both the Thomas farmstead and the Kearney Credit Union.

The experimenter's success with peat heat encouraged him to set up a small distillery, in order to turn some of his farm's crops into alcohol fuel . . . which Richard used to tool around town in his Volvo, demonstrating to local farmers that they too could grow their own power. Although Thomas found himself in court when his still was seized by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, he emerged a winner of both his own battle and that which had long been fought by his fellow liquid-energy brewers . . . since the Canadian government was moved to reevaluate its legislation concerning the private production of alcohol fuel! — Helen Mason.





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