The Idyllwild Orchard Project, headed by permaculturist Tricia Pilkington, aims to provide emotional and edible sustenance to the Idyllwild community.
The plan is to plant 10 fruit or nut trees per year for 10 years in community accessible spaces throughout the village center. With the goal of modeling future sustainability and responsible development to both visitors and locals, Pilkington sought to create a living educational opportunity. “I wanted to bring a greater awareness of the symbiotic relationship connecting nature and humans,” said Pilkington.
In a both bittersweet and lovely beginning, the first tree planted was an apple tree in a specially designed plot in front of Higher Grounds. “It was for Pedro,” said Pilkington. Sue Anderson, Pete Anderson’s sister, and Rick Barker, one of his best friends, sponsored the apple tree as a living memorial for the beloved folk singer who sang often at Higher Grounds.
Todd Fowler, Pilkington’s right-hand man, rerouted rain gutters from the Village Center building so that gutters actually drain under the developed plot to begin to saturate the soil and sustain the young tree. Other donors for the Pedro memorial are Shane and Ashley Stewart for allowing the changes to their property, Julie La Desma of the HELP Center for a fountain, Jackie Lasater of Lily Rock Gardens, the Pine Cove Water District and Don Raridon (Omniweb) for professional photography. “This is a community project and it takes a community to come together to manifest positive change,” said Pilkington.
Pilkington, Fowler and Dan Aronson volunteered their time to create the memorial garden. The Orchard Project will plant sponsored trees in community-accessible spaces where water sponsors provide sustenance. Pilkington, a certified permaculturist who trained under Geoff Laughton, said the project will create harmonious, self-producing and food-yielding environments.
“This year we’ll have 10 trees, with 100 over 10 years,” she said. “The project will model abundance by having a sustainable food source and help to bring and welcome eco-minded tourists who appreciate the goals of permaculture — to access and add elements to an ecosystem to bring it into balance.
“My vision for Idyllwild has developed over the 21 years I’ve lived on this sacred mountain. It has developed my creativity and natural-healing abilities because of an elevating energy field that people are drawn to, as they are drawn to natural vortex spaces where Mother Earth’s energy is concentrated and beneficial for all life — human, as well as plants and animals.”
Pilkington said she realized moving into three-dimensional molding of terra-forming with a concentration on water capturing and redistribution was the next natural step for her as a designer and artist. The Orchard Project fits nicely into her set of goals — helping to beautify the downtown area and to illustrate abundance.
Interested donors may sponsor a fruit or nut tree for $250 or water for the same amount. Trees will be planted in public-access spaces designed for water conservation and redistribution. Businesses sponsoring the plot of land get access to the harvest, one half of the fruit, and the Orchard Project gets the other half to turn into jams and jellies to sell to continue the project.
Said Fowler, “With permaculture, you waste nothing. You put everything back into the system. It’s a completely circular relationship.” Added Pilkington, “It’s a partnership with the planet. We wanted to start with the kids. They are the best to teach reverence to.”
For more information on the project and to make donations of trees or water, visit the Idyllwild Orchard Project Store on Facebook.