The 2015 Green Awards

A spike in eco-friendly activity throughout the region has made winners out of all of us. Here are seven more leading the charge.

Modena is now known as “Mogreena.” When it comes to eco-friendly living, this tiny, once-industrial borough in southern Chester County is a titan—largely due to the companies that call it home. One recycles more than a million gallons of used cooking oil a year. Another has donated the raw material to create about 100 gardens that teach folks the importance of growing and eating healthy food. 

The latter, Organic Mechanics Soil Company, has touched—and greened—thousands of lives, giving children and adults alike the opportunity to harvest homegrown fruits and vegetables. A favorite plot of Organic Mechanics founder Mark Highland is the Seashore House rooftop garden at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where kids and families can reconnect with nature during a particularly arduous time in their lives.

Back on the Main Line, Bala Cynwyd’s Jack Marine is hoping Lower Merion Township will start a solar farm. Local businesses and organizations, he says, should be required to provide recycling receptacles at all gatherings—and every senior center should have a vegetable garden. 

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“The greening of our community would help reduce our carbon footprint and save money in the long run,” says Marine, who joins Organic Mechanics on our winners’ podium. 

Read on to learn more about both, along with our other 2015 Green Awards recipients.


Organic Mechanics may sell its products throughout the East Coast, the Midwest and the South, but its roots remain in the garden centers and natural-food stores of our area. Soil scientist Mark Highland established the company after completing the Longwood Gardens graduate program, acting on his passion to develop organic, sustainably produced potting soil. Vice president Mike Betterly grew up locally, and his M.B.A. in marketing serves the company well.

Green initiatives: Using biodiesel and wind power, the company has supplied the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s celebrated Pop Up Gardens, the planters along the Avenue of the Arts, and the beds around the Porch at 30th Street Station. Some of its products are the first of their kind in the nation, and its Mogreena Garden Project grows food for the Chester County Food Bank.

Bragging rights: Organic Mechanics is the first company in the world to receive Organic Gardening magazine’s seal of approval for its products and methods. 

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Green dream: To have all gardeners support truly earth-friendly companies—a paradigm shift leading to healthier landscapes.

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A former Haverford Township commissioner, Jan Marie Rushforth is emeritus chair of its environmental advisory committee and past president of the Darby Creek Valley Association. She and her husband, structural engineer Alan Rushforth, are leaders in solar hot-water design and installation for apartments. The couple’s Bryn Mawr home has three solar systems. 

Green initiatives: Jan Marie volunteers with the bipartisan Citizens’ Climate Lobby, which has demonstrated at the NYC climate march and other places.

Bragging rights: After 12 years of activism, Jan Marie helped preserve 80 percent of 207 acres at the former Haverford State Hospital. It’s now the the Haverford Reserve, an oasis of outdoor recreation and trails that includes the LEED Gold-certified Community Recreation & Environmental Center. Her work was rewarded in 2007 with the Peace Center of Delaware County’s Peacekeeper of the Year Award. Jan Marie’s environmental activism began over 25 years ago, when she worked with the League of Women Voters to initiate household hazardous-waste collections. “I remember bringing a bag full of used batteries into a meeting of the Delaware County Council,” she says.

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Green dream: National passage of a carbon fee, among other things. “The climate crisis has already started,” she says. “In order to leave a livable planet, we need to act.”

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A veteran NBC10 anchor and consumer advocate, Tracy Davidson supports numerous nonprofits, developing community-service events to promote jobs, secure free prescription drugs, and more. Her most popular campaign, the NBC10 Great Shredder Event, is in its 11th year. 

Green initiatives: NBC10 was the first television station in the country to host a free shredding event. It debuted at Plymouth Meeting Mall in 2004 and now attracts some 4,000 participants annually. “Long before the ‘protect yourself from ID theft’ craze hit, we knew this was a big issue,” says Davidson. “Even with all the cyber-security issues, thieves still look for information on paper.” 

Bragging rights: The shredded paper is completely recycled, so identities are protected and landfills are spared. Last year’s event netted 170,000 pounds—the equivalent of 1,445 trees. “It was no easy feat to convince a shredding company to come out and do it for free,” admits Davidson. “But folks show up, and we take all their worries away for free—and with a smile.” 

Green dream: “Though great strides have been made, if every person did just one thing focused on the stewardship of the Earth for the next generation, we’d all be one giant step closer to a healthier planet,” she says.

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For students at the Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades in Media, there’s a clear advantage. “Real-world work,” says John Beaudry. As a 25-year veteran teacher and the director of power-plant technology and utilities, Beaudry teaches four hours of shop a day. Even on breaks, his students provide heat for the school via a cogeneration system that services 25 percent of the campus.

Green initiatives: Beaudry is also interested in organic farming and gardening, and he spends time volunteering at the residential therapeutic farm at Elwyn. Across from the Williamson campus, it sits on the largest private parcel left in Delaware County. In his work, Beaudry has incorporated an interest in used biofuel production and completed operational maintenance work. At Elwyn, he and students built the scrap-metal base to the farm’s cob oven, a centerpiece for community events. 

Bragging rights: Founded in 1888, Williamson enrolls 250 scholarship students, but it no longer has its own agriculture program. However, with funding from Dorrance “Dodo” Hamilton, the school did begin a horticulture program 15 years ago—one that exhibits at the Philadelphia Flower Show.

Green dream: “We’ve been able to get students interested in greenhouses—it’s become a niche for us,” says Beaudry, who’s looking to expand his program into solar-use study and experimentation. 

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Before his recent retirement, Paul Claypoole worked 41 years as a manager at Lower Merion Township’s Saunders Woods and Idlewild Farm preserves. 

Green initiatives: When Claypoole began working for Dorothy Love Saunders in 1973 as her farm manager, he tended the steers, sheep, chickens, vegetable gardens and orchards on her 30 acres. Upon her death in 1988, she willed her farm and a 20-acre neighboring property to the Natural Lands Trust, stipulating that Claypoole always be employed and housed there. He and his wife, Helen, raised their family at Idlewild Farm. “Mrs. Saunders always used to tell me, ‘We don’t really own the land; we’re just borrowing it.’ She wanted to be sure it would never be developed,” he says. 

Bragging rights: Claypoole received NLT’s inaugural Hank Crouter Award in 2000. His most lasting accomplishments remain the acres of wildflowers that bloom every summer, the Eastern bluebirds that thrive at the preserves, and the thousands of people he’s connected with nature.

Green dream: He’s been living it for years. “I spent the first 45 years of my life wondering what I really wanted to do,” he says. “One day, when I was out on the tractor, it hit me: I was already doing what I wanted to do.” 

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The creator of “Science With Nature Jack” was an organic backyard gardener years before it was trendy. He moved to Bala Cynwyd in 1985. A decade later, when his son turned 5, he began teaching science to young kids—an initiative inspired by childhood visits to his grandfather’s garden in Mount Airy. Marine called his backyard classroom “Kinder Garden.” Now, his “Science With Nature Jack” is a staple in 30 Main Line preschools.

Green initiatives: Marine recycles everything he can. He’s been collecting unwanted jack-o’-lanterns for a decade. “Not a glamorous task,” he reports, but one he feels compelled to do. “Something inside me clicked, and I said, ‘I’m going to take some of these pumpkins home and compost them in my garden.’”   

Bragging rights: He’s the first residential recipient of Lower Merion Township’s Go for the Green Award, for his work as a vigilant recycler. He’s also been invited to the local Cancer Treatment Centers of America, where he brings “science magic” to families enduring difficult medical challenges.

Green dream: To have compost barrels at every Philadelphia event, and to encourage real-estate developers to begin new projects with more recyclable materials inside and out. “Many of these same companies replace their plants,” says Marine. “Why not recycle all the plant materials—either as compost, donations to schools, or charity?”  

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West Grove’s Green Robin Homes is the result of a partnership between Robin Nellius, a pioneer in systems-engineered-homes technology, and Robin Bieber, a green entrepreneur who once developed an organic textile line for Martha Stewart. The company specializes in energy-efficient, eco-friendly custom homes.

Green initiatives: Green Robin has been bringing green style and efficiency to consumers for more than 30 years. Buyers can go as “dark green” as they’d like, Bieber says, beginning with energy efficiency and going even “deeper” with alternative heating and cooling options, sustainable flooring, countertops, and more. 

Bragging rights: Diverse in scope, Green Robin recently built a 5,000-plus-square-foot reproduction of an 1800s
farmhouse while also finishing up a universal-design (handicap-accessible) home. They’ve worked on TV’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and built Londonderry Meadows, a certified-green subdivision in Cochranville. 

Green dream: Constructed on a former brown site in West Grove, Pa., the company’s Eco-Design Center showcases cutting-edge technology and green building techniques and design materials. 

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Our Best of the Main Line Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!