Temperance Nature Center teaches you practical ways to be one with the earth - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Temperance Nature Center teaches you practical ways to be one with the earth

By Donna McCollum

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Living off the grid is nothing new to Diane Radabaugh. "There is no electric bill at all," proudly said the director of the Temperance Nature Center. She stood in front of recently installed solar panels. The next project will be the installation of wind turbines.  

Radabaugh and volunteers now want to share the living examples of people's ingenuity. "This is the Temperance Nature Center. It's a little rough, but we're working on it right now, but come on in the house for a minute," invited Radabaugh.  Inside is a rustic center with all the comforts of home. "This is a battery system that runs every thing," said Radabaugh as she pointed to numerous recycled batteries.  "The DVD's, our music, TV, computer center are all being run right now,"

Unwanted wood timbers from the Old Nacogdoches Depot support the idea, just because it's old doesn't mean it has to be thrown away.  "You're touching history of over 200 years here," said Radabaugh as she slapped the more than century old timbers.  

The first phase of construction on the center was set back by hurricanes, but volunteers are persevering. The goal is to develop a place where demonstrations of electricity generated by solar, wind, and bio-diesel technologies. Everything Radabaugh lives off at the center can be applied to any home or even a sub-division.

The Temperance Nature Center chose its name wisely. Temperance is an Amish word meaning combiner for old and new. The Temperance Nature Center takes no cash. "We try to use recycled materials." Those kind of donations are accepted gratefully.   A motor home manufacturer donated the solar panels. Building supply businesses help with hardware and cement. A carpet dealer drops off old carpet samples to be used to control erosion. A Crockett church saves newspapers to be used to discourage weeds from a garden, while also providing biodegradable mulch. Bicycles are transformed into work carts.

Numerous storage buildings may appear a bit junky at first glance, but Radabaugh and others see a gold mine of materials to build a dream. "We want a place where people can enjoy nature, have opportunities to participate in educational projects, and hold special events," explained Radabaugh.

People are dropping off transplanted native plants and numerous unwanted items. Even a goat was dropped off, but he doesn't do much work. He watches over weekend projects including a cistern water system. It operates off gravity. The piping is supported by recycled timbers and native trees growing in its path. Radabaugh opens the center's restroom area. She flips the switch of a solar power light. Then she proudly flushes the toilet. "We purposely leave off the top so users can see how much water a toilet uses." "Fill it and it's the same toilet as anybody else has, except we have no water bill either," said Radabaugh. A future project is to filter the water through sophisticated systems making it safe to drink.

The Temperance Nature Center is a 13 acre site held in trust by a voluntary board of directors. It's the legacy gift of author, M.J. Abadie. Visitors will find hiking trails, fruit trees, native plants and wildlife. The learning center is a work in progress. Volunteers include teachers, engineers and a midwife. Radabaugh is none of those, but rather a woman of independent nature that does something good for the environment.

The Temperance Nature Center is in Nacogdoches County. To get there, go west on FM 225, north on CR 719, at the Macedonia church. Travel half a mile and you'll see the entrance on the left. Volunteer help is always needed on Saturdays from eight to noon. Whether you are interested in living off the grid, helping maintain a community garden or would simply like to visit, call 936-559-7637.  

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