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MOTHER's Celebration of Little-Known Environmental Heroes

MOTHER's Profiles column celebrates little-known environmental heroes who make a difference. This issue includes who created the formula for kudzu compost and the Walk for the Earth for Native American rights, the environment, and world peace.

| July/August 1985

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    The participants in this Walk for the Earth had joined in an effort to focus attention on Native American rights, the environment, and world peace.

  • 094-032-01-im8

MOTHER's celebration of little-known environmental heroes who make the world a better place. 

Charles Wilber: Praising Kudzu

On a little more than a quarter-acre of land near Crane Hill, Alabama, Charles Wilber tends what most folks would consider a truly remarkable garden. His plot contains such wonders as 13-1/2-pound cucumbers, 42-pound squash, three-inch-long peanuts . . . and 27-foot-tall tomato plants. According to Mr. Wilber, the tremendous growth of his vegetables is due primarily to that very common and often-cursed vine, kudzu.

Raised on an Arkansas farm, Charles has been involved with plants most of his life. He spent his teen years experimenting with various growing methods and won numerous contests as a result of his efforts at raising soybeans, peanuts, and pop-corn. But it was only about four years ago that Mr. Wilber worked out his formula for making kudzu compost. The fertilizer, which Charles is now considering making on a commercial scale, creates a light, fluffy soil and encourages fruits and vegetables to grow to record proportions.

Kudzu has long been used for erosion control and livestock fodder, and its ability to increase soil fertility has been recognized by the Japanese for centuries. But in the southern U.S., the vine's rampant growth has caused it to become an object of scorn, and many think it worthy only of eradication. Charles Wilber, however, is one southerner who'd rather sing kudzu's praises. In his eyes, the "mile-a-minute" vine is nothing short of a miracle worker.—Kip Smith.

EDITOR'S NOTE: After Charles Wilber's magical compost was mentioned in issue 85's Bits and Pieces column, we received a few letters from readers who were skeptical that kudzu could have such an effect on vegetable growth. Perhaps the accompanying photo of Mr. Wilber's tomato plants will allay some doubts. 

Walk for the Earth: Learning to Live Simply

On April 1, 1984, near the rocky shores of Point Reyes National Seashore in California, 35 people embarked on a 3,800-mile, seven-month journey to Washington, D.C. Of all ages and backgrounds, the participants in this Walk for the Earth had joined in an effort to focus attention on Native American rights, the environment, and world peace. In the process, the walkers received an unexpected benefit: These little-known environmental heroes learned how to simplify their own lives.

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