Transition Healdsburg volunteer Cindy Jacobs planted bean plants beneath a trellis. “I love to garden, and I love to give back,” Jacobs said.

Transition Healdsburg starts local garden wheel project

By Lynda Hopkins

Staff Writer

Transition Healdsburg is turning philosophy into action by transitioning local lawns into food gardens.

“I just think it’s important for the community and for all of us,” said Cindy Jacobs, who volunteered to help install raised beds and plant a food garden in a fellow resident’s backyard.

“I think it’s important to rely less on fossil fuels for future generations. And I love to garden, and I love to give back.”

On Monday, a half-dozen helping hands gathered at Karen Armstrong’s Healdsburg home to heap soil into raised beds and plant beans, squash, lettuces, and kale. The lawn conversion is part of an ongoing ‘garden wheel’ project initiated by Transition Healdsburg. It represented the second successful garden-related project for the group; the first was a reconstruction of the raised beds in the senior housing complex near Badger Park.  

The transition movement is a global movement based on the premise of peak oil, and the belief that individual towns and cities can empower themselves to decrease their impact on the world and increase local self-sufficiency. The local Healdsburg chapter coalesced in May of 2012.

“The whole thing about       transition and this garden business is lawn to garden. And it’s called a garden wheel program, where people come and help, and then later people will come and help those people in their garden,” Transition Healdsburg founder Carolyn Harrison explained.

On Monday, Karen Armstrong was the lucky recipient of the group’s efforts, and next it will be her turn to help others who have helped her. She likened the garden wheel project to an old-fashioned labor share or barn raising.

“It’s kind of the old idea of the farm. Maybe one farm had one horse, and the next neighbor had another horse, and the next neighbor, he owned a thresher. Well, they put ‘em all together and you can take care of a field in no time at all... take care of that guy’s field, then when you finish there, you do that guy’s field, and that guy’s field,” Armstrong said.

“Everyone helps the others. And it’s the barn raising kind of thinking too.”

Local landscaper and project overseer Barney Brady saw it as a community-building event.

“It’s a way to come together as a community... When I heard about it, I said, ‘let’s go,’” said Barney Brady, owner of Mountain Meadow Landscape.

Brady helped strip the sod, and lay down gravel in preparation for Monday’s installation and planting.

“I’m a landscape contractor, so I kind of know how to install these kinds of things,” Brady said with a smile.

All of the participants were hoping that their small action would spark something greater.

“It’s a small group now, but this is the kind of thing that we need to get out to the community, to say we’re not just people who meet together and talk and wish things were different. We ‘do,’ and these are some of the small things we can do,” Armstrong said.

“We hope that people will see what we’re doing and say, oh, that would be good, maybe I ought to join Transition and they can help me with my garden,” Harrison said.

Jacobs was confident that the actions taken on Monday were important.

“I think that each small act does matter, and each action we take matters. This is probably a small act, but all hooked together, they have tremendous importance,” Cindy Jacobs said.

People who are interested in joining Transition Healdsburg can contact Carolyn Harrison at The group will have a speaker from Climate Leaders to discuss the topic of climate realities and the food supply on June 19, location to be determined.

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