By Julianne Homokay
Special to The Alpine Mountaineer
And this community has a lot of heart.
Sandi Huckaby, who captains the Green Valley Lake community garden, would know. As cited in The Alpine Mountaineer (“Green Valley Lake celebrates Woodstock – 52 years later,” Aug. 19, 2021), Huckaby and her husband Pat were on their honeymoon in Green Valley Lake in August of 1969.
“Pat’s sister had a cabin here, so we could stay here for free!” she recalled. After that, the pair would come up every year for a stay at the cabin. “One year I thought, I just can’t leave, I have to live here.” The couple bought their own house in 1999 and worked until they could afford to retire in Green Valley Lake in 2001.
Huckaby was involved in the community garden from its inception. During the fire that devastated a portion of Green Valley Lake in 2007, the historic lumber mill in the center of town burned down.
Mountain Community Alliance, “a nonprofit charity dedicated to disaster preparedness and education, community building, and educational scholarships,” (www.green-valley-lake.com/mountain-community-alliance/), of which Huckaby is on the board, bought the property and planned to build a community center on the site. However, the money to do so never materialized.
A longtime resident of Green Valley Lake and friend of Huckaby’s, Linda Bon, originated the idea of a community garden, and Huckaby was quick to jump on board. Bon’s daughter, Roxanne, is a master gardener who provided classes to all who were interested. Not only did she do skill instruction but, according to Huckaby, she inspired confidence in the community gardeners, too.
“Maybe one plant in your life died and you blame yourself, and you think you can’t grow anything,” said Huckaby. Roxanne not only provided the instruction to grow a successful garden to her students, but the confidence to realize this very satisfying goal.
The community garden has just realized another very satisfying goal in honor of its 10th anniversary: 10 brand-new, raised and revolutionized garden boxes. According to Huckaby, the new boxes were the brain children of two young, up-and-coming Green Valley Lake residents.
Emily Nohr, a native and employee of Green Valley Mutual Water Company, coordinated the efforts. Matt Ele, who is also the one-man manager of the lake, designed the boxes and solicited volunteers to get them done in just two weekends.
“We need to involve the families and the kids, ‘cuz otherwise, it’s just us old folks!” Huckaby said. “We need to keep it going.”
In the interest of keeping it going, many community events take place at the garden. The garden has hosted garden talks, live concerts and jams, a pet parade, animal rescue events, talks from the Red Cross and Cal Fire on fire safety tips and evacuation, and a free community library. Huckaby also plans to reinstitute a cement-block workshop, so they can build a retaining wall out of colorful and creative community-designed blocks.
The garden team is working on a stage space that will be ADA compliant. They also plan to continue on with the annual August Woodstock commemorative celebrations. “Anyone and everyone is invited,” said Huckaby.
To get a sense of the heart of the Green Valley Lake community, all one needs to do is to spend some time at the community garden. You might see Bergen, a community gardener and musician who plays in the band Deep Creek (featured in The Alpine Mountaineer dated May 19, 2022), getting his faux dressing-down from Huckaby about his netting technique. You might see Steve, who dropped by to take care of his garden box. He was also celebrating the 4,474 students his ECOS Institute program brought up to the Garden as part of the science camp program he runs – meaning he will be spending the rest of the summer jumping into the lake. You also might see the fiddler who plays in the community jams smiling and yelling “hello” out of the window of her car as she passes by.
And the community garden is the heart of it all.