Property in Mountain Center, adjacent to Morning Sky School, being considered for a community garden. Photo by Marshall Smith

About 10 members of the Forest Folk, a group of Idyllwild active older adults, conducted a field trip to two sites that could host a greater-Idyllwild community garden in the future. A suitable site would give residents of all ages a chance to garden and share in the provenance. Both 3rd District Supervisor Jeff Stone and Bill Brown of the county Economic Development Agency have pledged support for the endeavor.

On Saturday morning, Feb. 25, the group first visited the Mountain Center site of Chapel in the Pines. Pastor Wally Boer and his dog Brinkley met the group and hosted a tour of a large, mostly flat site near the intersection of highways 243 and 74.

The group noted that with any site, there would be issues of water, electricity and security that would have to be solved before any infrastructure could be built. Those issues are present at the Mountain Center property. An unused existing well at the property would have to be made operable at a decent rate of flow to provide water for agricultural purposes. The well would need electricity and the site would need security, likely in the form of fencing. And there are expenses involved with getting those elements in place.

Pastor Wally Boer (right), Chapel in the Pines, and Forest Folk’s Reba Coulter view the Mountain Center property that could one day accommodate a community garden. Photo by Marshall Smith

Pastor Boer expressed a willingness to consider the possibility of hosting the garden and expressed enthusiasm for the concept, especially in that it would expand the church’s existing outreach program. Already the church provides a clothing exchange and a food program to help those in need. A community garden could also provide both sustenance and participation by community members currently served by the church’s outreach. “We’ve loved serving the community on the food program and would welcome the opportunity to serve more [with a community garden],” said Boer.

Nevertheless, there are many infrastructure issues to solve before a garden to serve the Pine Cove, Idyllwild and Mountain Center communities could be hoed and planted. “It would take a miracle to get it in place by this growing season,” said Boer.

At the second site, Pine Cove Water District General Manager Jerry Holldber
hosted the group and likewise stated there would be a number of hurdles to cross before a garden could be started on any land in the Pine Cove area.

Although in general support of the concept, and of the mission to serve the needs of the wider Idyllwild community, Holldber noted there are both procedural and infrastructure hurdles that would have to be addressed and cleared before any seeds could be planted. “I like the idea of a community garden,” said Holldber, while noting that issues of liability, a clear definition of the project, the area needed for a garden and assurances provided that the project would not negatively impact the water table would all have to be addressed.