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Heights resident is a model of the sustainable lifestyle

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Posted: Sunday, April 24, 2011 12:00 pm

By Rebecca Rose

Killeen Daily Herald

HARKER HEIGHTS - Deep in the heart of East Texas is probably not the first place that comes to mind when you think of a breeding ground for environmental consciousness.

But it was on his family's farm in Celeste where Rex Hudson first learned the value of protecting the environment.

"When you grow up on a farm, out in the country, you just see it. You see what happens when you don't look out for things."

Hudson, 81, doesn't follow politics closely, and he doesn't care for radical activism. He doesn't give money to Greenpeace. He has never seen "An Inconvenient Truth," a film about global warming.

But he is deeply passionate about protecting the environment. He turned his modest home in Harker Heights into a model of sustainability that even the most ardent environmentalist would be envious of.

Hudson grows and produces most of his own food, from a simple garden in his backyard. He meticulously recycles nearly all of his household trash. He composts, recycling leaves, debris from the garden and household trash to provide fertilizer for his crops.

"I was born during the Depression. You made everything count. Everything you had, you used it until it couldn't be used anymore. Now, once something gets a little old, you throw it away. We were never like that," Hudson said.

He has been married for more than 60 years to his high school sweetheart, Rita. The father of four, grandfather of 10 and great-grandfather of six, said giving back to the next generation is vital.

Instead of a swing set or a swimming pool, Hudson's yard is filled with planter boxes, a few gardening tools and a composter.

Rows of herbs, cucumbers and tomatoes line the edges of the fence. Two 12-foot planter boxes hold potatoes, lettuce, onions, beans, cucumbers and more tomatoes. Herbs, including fresh basil and oregano, fill pots lining the porch.

One of the tricks he advises to get a garden flourishing is to use starter plants. Starting with seeds can be more difficult, said Hudson.

"In the spring, I start by picking types of vegetables that will withstand the weather, like onions. The cold doesn't bother them too much. You can plant them anytime, like late January or February. Then you just have to keep ground ready."

If it snows or gets too cold, Hudson covers the garden with tarps from a local hardware store.

"Once everything is planted, it's a matter of just keeping the weeds out. I do a little more than other people, but that comes from being raised on a farm."

Hudson discussed one of his tricks to helping his

plants thrive.

"I pull the dirt up, around the roots. It keeps them from getting overheated. As you're doing it, cut out the weeds. It helps the plants grow."

Hudson said a seasonal investment of $50 in supplies and plants can net hundreds of dollars in market-quality produce. But he has never sold any of his vegetables. The Hudsons give them to their children and grandchildren, or to friends in the neighborhood.

The composter is one of the newer additions to the garden, a gift given to him by one of his children. Composters similar to the one Hudson uses cost less than $100 and require little more than a daily inspection to monitor temperatures.

"I feel like, it's just important to do it. Just like the recycling," he said.

His garage contains four plastic bins, separating different kinds of paper, glass and plastic.

Hudson said helping the environment is not about politics for him.

"I don't like to see countryside spoiled with trash," he said. "It's not that much trouble to do it. It takes less than 20 minutes to go out there and put it in the bins. It's not a problem."

Contact Rebecca Rose at rebeccar@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7548.

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