“No gardening experience required. The Idyllwild Demonstration Garden seeks volunteers from 14 -104 years of age with an interest in creating a prototype garden and act as hands on resources for off-shoot edible community garden projects on the hill,” wrote Young Idyllwild founder Kat Wilson, of the garden space she and her board waited two years to come into fruition for this purpose.

“The stars aligned, land and significant local expertise in many forms are combining to offer Idyllwild residents a real shot at food sustainability,” said IDG Project Director Bob Greenamyer; a former leader in San Diego’s Sustainable Food Project and organizer of the Victory Garden project that enabled quick, efficient garden construction and planting for San Diego residents.

“We’ll be employing the ABCD model, which stands for Asset Based Community Development based on the ‘glass half full’ premise. In this regard, Idyllwild is well resourced to support a program of this nature,” said Greenamyer. “Your glass is three-quarters full.” 

That’s precisely the mission of the Young Idyllwild Demonstration Garden; to learn together the best methods for successfully growing edibles in our unique mountain environment and act as a resource. The plot located on the corner of Alderwood and North Circle, loaned to Young Idyllwild by owner Dora Dillman, is perfectly suited to incubate replicable systems for personal or community garden plots in greater Idyllwild.

The counsel of resident expertise is welcome. The garden will offer classes and mentorship to our local young people and anyone else who wants to participate with the goal of growing produce for our own home tables, of having food to swap with our neighbors and to share with those in need.

“I have always dreamed of being involved in a movement promoting the cultivation of edible plants and trees on a community-wide level that would allow people to become more self-sufficient,” said Idyllwild Demonstration Garden Designer April Palmer.

“While not an expert,” said Palmer, “I met Permaculture creator Bill Mollison, who came to be known as ‘The Global Gardener’ for his work restoring drought-plagued and devastated environments when mutual friends asked me to produce a documentary of his last teaching workshop at the Ojai Foundation in 1996. He and his teachings had such a profound effect on me that I went back to school to study horticulture and landscape design with the intention of implementing his teachings,” added Palmer.

The garden is spearheaded by Wilson, Greenamyer and former STEM teacher Helen Hixon, who stated, “I’ve been waiting for a reason to employ my teaching background and passion for gardening in Idyllwild.”

The IDG site will include a greenhouse, seedling nursery, compost and watering systems for edibles and native pollinators. Grading, fencing, mulch and parking solutions are all permitted and will soon manifest following Palmer’s design.

Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots website [www.rootsandshoots.org] describes a service program for young people of all ages, enabling youth to lead local change through service while developing the skills and traits of compassionate leaders. “Our mission is to foster respect and compassion for all living things, to promote understanding of all cultures and beliefs, and to inspire each individual to take action to make the world a better place for people, other animals, and the environment,” according to the organization’s brochure. Hixon will lead curriculum applications of this program for youth.

The garden will accomplish its mission by achieving these goals:

• To create a garden space that offers opportunities to garden in a wide variety of ways in our mountain environment.

• Demonstrate and teach the principles of Permaculture to be thoughtful stewards of our garden and the larger mountain community.

• Provide education opportunities to the Idyllwild community including families, schools, churches and any resident interested in growing their own food in a healthful, thoughtful and environmentally sensitive manner.

Stay tuned for sprouting updates.