Land Sailing, Health Foods Store, Pig Loans, and Other Profiles in Resourcefulness

This installment of the regular "Profiles" feature examined a Kansas company that made a vehicle for land sailing, a senior citizen who founded a non-profit health foods store in Arkansas, and a cooperative that literally made pig loans to farmers.

| November/December 1980

In celebration of little-known MOTHER EARTH NEWS-type folks from all over who have show initiative and resourcefulness in daily life.  

Randy Schlitter: Land Sailing the High Plains

Out on the rolling prairies of western Kansas, inventor Randy Schlitter has made a breakthrough in the art of land sailing. Randy's manufacturing company Rans Designs, Inc has been producing a vehicle called the sail trike at the rate of one per day for some four years now. Schlitter's company currently offers five sail trike models, including a racer and a tandem, all of which are street legal (since they're classified simply as bicycles that are equipped with sails) and come complete with safety features (each has a flexible mast that absorbs shocks from violent gusts and a sail that can be reduced from 30 to 20.7 square feet to adapt to different wind velocities). 

Randy's trikes can generally travel up to three times as fast as the prevailing winds (except in gales of 30 MPH or more, where air resistance tends to decrease the ratio of wind speed to sailing speed). And though the sail trike is basically a sport machine, Randy is convinced that a wind-propelled vehicle can be used as a practical means of land transportation. Schlitter has already put a pedal-less land-sailer into production. "And," he says, "I've drawn up plans for the world's first sail-powered trailer truck!" — David Ernst

Minnie Mae Davis: Gaither Mountain Health Foods Store

Those who are not familiar with the town of Harrison, Arkansas might easily miss the tiny sign — pointing to a shop in a largely deserted old building — which reads: "Gaither Mtn. Health Foods." To area residents the business is a godsend. The interior of the establishment is dominated by a small, cheerful, gray-haired woman, who presides over well-stocked shelves and coolers. Her name is Minnie Mae Davis. 

Ms. Davis started the non-profit enterprise — which specializes in natural foods and sources of non-animal protein — on a part-time, volunteer basis back in 1961. And 11 years later, when she retired from her full -time employment at the age of 74, Minnie began devoting nine hours a day, five days a week to the health food venture. (Ms. Davis — who lives on Social Security — still refuses to accept a personal income for her work, charging just enough over cost to cover expenses.)

Now 82, Minnie attributes her good health and vitality to "natural foods, pure thoughts, and 50 years on a meatless diet." And her unselfish dedication to providing healthful sustenance for others has made her a friend to every customer. — Douglas Sean Alexander

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