Riverside County Economic Development Agency, which manages Idyllwild’s recreation district, plans to assist in the installation of four to five aboveground community garden planting boxes, once a site is agreed upon. One of the potential sites being considered is public and owned by the county, and two are private.

If interested in becoming one of the gardeners, contact [email protected] or attend a Forest Folk meeting on Thursdays at 5:30 at Town Hall. No more than 15 spaces will be available for the pilot project. Once the site is selected and an agreement reached with the site owner or operating authority, county EDA could complete garden infrastructure installation within a three-week period, according to Brown.

In other business, Mike Franklin, EDA’s CSA 36 representative, said that he had received the lease agreement for Town Hall signed by the Idyllwild Chamber of Commerce. The signed agreement allows the county to make capital improvements at Town Hall. It had been reluctant to do without a signed agreement, according to Brown.

The sticking point had been the chamber’s reluctance to provide liability insurance for the building they actually own, according to Brown. During ICRC’s tenure as recreation manager, ICRC provided liability insurance as a lessee, but there was, according to Brown, no owner’s (chamber) liability insurance. County counsel had requested the Town Hall owner provide evidence of liability insurance should they, at any time, use or conduct any event at the property. Brown noted that the county, in consideration of the chamber’s current financial condition, would pay the quoted chamber premiums.

CSA 36 Advisory Committee chair Bob Schraff asked Recreation Manager Gege Beagle if the recommendations from the county’s previous physical inspection of Town Hall were being implemented. Beagle replied that they were being handled.

In answer to an audience question, Brown indicated he would see that a display box about the county-managed Idyllwild recreation program gets purchased and installed at the post office.

The gardening project would be a pilot for this year, part of county recreation, and funded through CSA recreation money. If the pilot project proves successful, one or several local non-profits would take over future management of the garden and its operation. County Service Area Operations Manager Bill Brown and staff will view all three sites that have been initially recommended by Idyllwild’s active senior group, the Forest Folk.

The immediate goal for launching the garden this season, as discussed at the Wednesday, April 12 CSA 36 meeting, is for Forest Folk to compile a list of 12 to 15 prospective gardeners willing to commit a minimum of 4 hours a week throughout a May to October gardening season. Brown said the county’s immediate goals for the project are to provide a fair opportunity for those interested to sign up for the limited number of spaces and for the chosen site to have adequate security and no negative environmental impact. There would be no fee for gardeners to participate. “We don’t want box rental to be a factor in the pilot project, he said. “We need to show success with this. Once successful, there may be grant possibilities to continue the project.”

Although part of CSA 36 recreation, and funded through district resident assessments, gardening spots would be open to Pine Cove and Mountain Center residents as well. “This would offer an additional opportunity to expand recreational opportunities to the wider Idyllwild area, including Pine Cove and Mountain Center,” said Brown.