Chainsaw Sculpture, Greenleaf Industries, and Other Profiles

This installment of an ongoing feature includes profiles of a chainsaw sculpture artist and the founder of Greenleaf Industries, a horticulture training program for the developmentally disabled.

| November/December 1981

In celebration of little-known MOTHER EARTH NEWS-type folks from all over. 

Billy Middleton: Chainsaw Sculpture

One day as Billy Middleton whizzed and whirred his way through a stack of logs with his chain saw, he began to envision facial features, torsos, and full human and animal figures in the pile of lumber. A multitude of configurations suggested themselves to the woodcutter, and—impulsively—he gave in to the urge to zip through some of the sturdier tree stumps, fashioning forms as they came to mind.

Before long the sculptor had a yard full of specimens that curious friends, neighbors, and passers-by stopped to admire. Folks began commissioning him to produce wooden originals on their property. Instead of struggling, or paying someone else, to remove stubborn stumps, homesteaders asked Billy to decorate them ... business people figured that the unusual artwork would attract customers to their shops ... and one enterprising hardware store proprietor invited the carver to demonstrate his craft as part of the establishment's grand opening celebration.

Billy's advice to property owners is to take a long, hard look before removing any tree stumps. "There's a good chance," he says, "that you'll see some fascinating figures just waiting to be coaxed to the surface by your chain saw."—Sheila Clendenning. 

David James: Greenleaf Industries

When David James was asked to develop a 4-H horticulture program (as part of his job with the Josephine County Extension Office in Grants Pass, Oregon), he decided to organize a gardening/greenhouse club for mentally retarded adults. Participants in the program now grow flowers, shrubs, and ground covers for local parks; houseplants for city offices; and a variety of prizewinning vegetables (which have earned the gardeners almost $800 in county fair award premiums). The club donates a portion of its garden harvest to SALT, the community senior citizens' meal program. A number of David's proteges have—as a result of their horticultural training—been able to obtain jobs with the city parks department.

What's more, the program's accomplishments have inspired its organizer to set up a business called Greenleaf Industries, Inc., a self-supporting wholesale nursery that will be staffed by the developmentally disabled. "If this project proves as successful as I'm convinced it will," says David, "I hope it'll serve as a pilot program inspiring the establishment of similar projects in other areas throughout the country."— Diane Westerlund.  

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