MOTHER's Newsworthies: Bob Steffen, Jane Fonda and Carol Foreman

Learn how Bob Steffen, Jane Fonda and Carol Foreman are bettering their communities.

| May/June 1978

  • 051-082-01-Bob-Steffen
    Bob Steffen ran a 900-acre farm called Boys Town, for 35 years. Steffen says the idea of Boys Town was "to get the boy to realize his own worth, to help himself, and to gain an appreciation of the balance of nature."
  • 051-082-01-Jane-Fonda
    Jane Fonda is an actress and political activist. One of her interests is to promote the use of solar energy.
  • 051-082-01-Carol-Foreman
    Carol Foreman works as  Assistant Secretary for Food and Consumer Services at the Department of Agriculture. Carol works to better American nutrition and health.

  • 051-082-01-Bob-Steffen
  • 051-082-01-Jane-Fonda
  • 051-082-01-Carol-Foreman

Brief: Bob Steffen

For 35 years — ever since the late Reverend Edward J. Flanagan (Father Flanagan) hired him to take charge of Boys Town's 900-acre farm in 1943 — Bob Steffen managed one of the largest "organic" gardens in the country. Late last year, however, the soft-spoken agronomist was dismissed from his post at the home ... and Boys Town officials have announced that — starting this spring — they'll abandon Steffen's wholistic farming methods in favor of "conventional" growing techniques.

According to Administration Director Ed Hewitt, Boys Town looks "messy" with all those piles of ripening compost around ... "chemicals are more efficient ... the farm has been costly to us ... we've got to get better production and a better return ... we can't afford an experiment on this scale."

Bob Steffen — who studied at the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening School in Kimberton, Pennsylvania before starting his life's work — sees the questions of "efficiency" and "return on investment" in, perhaps, somewhat less narrow terms. "I was determined to adhere to the principles of organic farming when I took the Boys Town job," he says, "and over the years I introduced a lot of the home's residents to those principles. I like to think that a number of the boys were helped by that, even though we were trying to teach in two to three years what a normal farm boy learns in 10 to 15. The idea was to get the boy to realize his own worth, to help himself, and to gain an appreciation of the balance of nature."

Bob and his wife have now retired to an 80-acre homestead in Bennington, Nebraska ... where they're working to establish a garden and orchard and — with the help of a book by Helen and Scott Nearing — to convert a hog house into a greenhouse. As might be expected, Steffen is "disappointed, of course" about the fate of the Boys Town farm, but he tries not to think about it.

"I made it a point to teach the youngsters production instead of consumption," Bob says. "But they're teaching them how to be smart consumers now."— Adapted from an article by Dave Sink in the West Omaha Sun.

Brief: Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda's on the march again! Only this time the famous actress and political activist — a prominent figure in the anti-war movement of the sixties — is marching to promote the use of solar energy.

Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019


Next: February, 16-17 2019
Belton, TX

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters