Profiles: Free Food, Local Garlic and Healthy Hearts

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"Free food is needed by many today," said Trusten Holder in 1985. His solution? Turnips! Read about him and two other extraordinary individuals in this article, and click through the image gallery for additional photos.
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Trusten Holder brought turnips to the masses.
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Ted Maczka grew garlic in Canada.
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Noel Johnson found superior health at a superior age.

Free Food: Trusten Holder

Arkansas residents who are poor, unemployed or simply seeking no-cost nourishment can help themselves to fresh turnips, free for the picking, thanks to the efforts of Trusten Holder. “Free food is needed by many today, especially with the high rate of unemployment,” says Holder, who spends much of his time planting turnip seeds on unused property and along partially used rights-of-way.

Now retired after 36 years in environment-related state jobs, Holder remains actively interested in land use. He views ditch banks and field borders that have been disked by farmers to prevent the growth of weeds as ideal places to plant turnip seeds. But he also ventures onto public land: His most ambitious effort to date took place in 1981, when he scattered seed along an entire 10-mile stretch of newly installed sewer line.

Holder, who has received numerous conservation awards in his long career, derives great satisfaction from seeing people pick the nutritious greens and roots he’s planted. He notes that it costs only about $6.00 to sow an acre, and he tries to encourage others to follow in his footsteps. “What better way is there,” he asks, “to do good for a minimum of cost and effort?” –Marsha Gravitz .

Local Garlic: Ted Maczka

When Ted Maczka learned that Canada was importing millions of dollars’ worth of garlic annually, he set out to prove that Canadians don’t have to rely on foreign countries to supply the herb. Now, on his farm in Prince Edward County, Ontario, Ted raises a ton of worldclass elephant garlic yearly.

The large bulbs grown by Maczka weigh up to 6 ounces each and have giant cloves, which make peeling a breeze. The taste of this huge garlic is reportedly excellent, yet very mild. According to Ted, some people even eat it as they would fruit — whole and raw.

The Polish-born Maczka, who calls himself the Fish Lake Garlic Man, sells most of his organically grown crop to stores and restaurants in Toronto. But the demand now exceeds Maczka’s supply, and Ted constantly encourages others to contribute to Canada’s self-sufficiency by planting some cloves.

Maczka is often seen wearing a garland of garlic, which quickly communicates his enthusiasm for the herb, and he’s always ready to elaborate on the wonders of the odorous bulb. As for his homegrown product, Ted is unabashedly proud: “I have the most beautiful stinking rose you’ve ever seen!”–DM.

Healthy Hearts: Noel Johnson

When Noel Johnson was 70 years old, doctors told him that his heart was deteriorating and that he should therefore avoid any strenuous activity. One doctor warned that even a minor undertaking — such as trimming hedges — could trigger a fatal heart attack. For more than 40 years, Johnson had neglected his health — he drank, smoked excessively and paid little attention to his diet. But the unhappy news from his physician put Noel on the offensive, and he prepared to battle his way back to health.

Johnson gave careful thought to his diet: Seeds, nuts, greens and bee pollen soon replaced less nutritious fare. Then, ignoring the medical advice he’d been given, Noel started exercising. He was careful to start out gradually — running only a city block or two at first — so as not to overstress his weakened heart. But before long he was running a mile.

After following his exercise program for a time, Noel began to notice something: He was feeling better. In fact, he was feeling really good. So he decided to increase his level of activity. He took up boxing and began to run competitively in marathons.

Today, at 85, Johnson is a veteran of 13 New York City Marathons and reigns as the World’s Senior Citizen Boxing Champion. He’s also climbed Pikes Peak.

Recent medical evaluations have confirmed the benefits of Noel’s change in lifestyle. A doctor at a California medical school described him as a “superman” and noted that the octogenarian’s improved physical condition “is evidence that humans can increase their biological age with proper eating, drinking and activity.” But Noel really didn’t need medical tests to determine that he’s in excellent health. “I have more vitality than I can use,” he says, “and I feel great.” –Rick Lanning.

In Brief: Jimmie Heuga

Skier JIMMIE HEUGA, who won a bronze medal at the 1964 Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria, discovered in 1968 that he had multiple sclerosis. The diagnosis of his condition was followed by several sedentary years, after which Heuga decided to concentrate on developing a program for “reanimating” his life. The former athlete is now helping others with similar problems by devoting his time to the Jimmie Heuga Center. The purpose of this nonprofit organization is to “improve the quality of life of those disabled by disease or trauma through goal-oriented programs of exercise, nutrition and self-motivation.” 

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