Golden Hills will soon be home to a new community garden in the Quail Springs Preserve located at the end of the cul-de-sac on Fairway Court off Clubhouse Drive.
During his nature studies of Golden Hills, local resident Steve Shaw discovered fertile soil on the estate of his father, Malin “Burt” Shaw, who passed away five years ago. Shaw joined an informal group of individuals who wanted to preserve the wetlands and turn it into a community garden and eventually a pocket park.
The Quail Springs Preserve and Community Garden is a collection of eight private parcels surrounded by the Golden Hills Nature Park, formerly known and in continuance of the upper nine holes of the old golf course, which hadn’t been used for 25 years.
“All of this open land out here is the old fairways of the old golf course,” Shaw said. “Everybody thinks of the nature park and the golf course being everything you can see down past Tom Sawyer Lake, but actually all those lands come up to the fairways here.”
The idea for a community garden was born after Shaw said he discovered a huge drainage running from Quail Springs Road all the way to Mountain Drive, which funnels down into a nearby creek that produces water year-round and has kept the area from being developed.
Said Shaw, “There is an underground river here, so I decided that this a perfect way to start and preserve the wetlands that occur on the nature park area over here.”
Shaw said he plans to put up a fence around the community garden portion of the land, which is located at the beginning of the preserve. Once erected, Shaw said, he will post the project to the Golden Hills Nature Preserve and Parks Facebook page as its administrator, and begin taking subscriptions from the public for allotments inside the park. Areas to plant will be offered free to the public, with donations requested to help maintain and improve the area.
“If it takes off and expands, we have other lots contiguous to this that we can expand the garden,” Shaw said.
According to Shaw, the community garden will be fed year-round by the underground river. As for the adjoining lots, Shaw said plans are underway to dig a well which will run using solar power installed on a nearby shed and pump into a water tank using gravity flow.
Said Shaw, “Up here, because of the lack of water and the dryness, it is really hard to do that (grow a garden) in your backyard because it uses a lot of water. Here is a place where people can come and enjoy all of the open space and commune with nature and hopefully get their fingers dirty and work the land and get some enjoyment out of it as well.”
The public is free to experience the preserve and hike the existing trails, which includes a fawning area for local deer. Standing in the middle of the preserve is an enormous cottonwood tree, which has been fed by the underground stream over the years. Beneath it sits a bench for nature lovers to sit and watch the many species found in the area, including deer, skunk, fox and birds of all kinds. The area is open to horses, hikers and mountain bikes.
Shaw said he hopes to build a wilderness observation site for astronomers to observe the wetlands sometime in the future, as well as a small campground.
Said Shaw of the garden project, “There is also a sense of community in that, a socialization that brings us all together outside under the sun.”
According to David Shaw, one of five directors of the Golden Hills CSD, the GHCSD operates the Golden Hills Nature Park, one of the properties the district oversees.
“Speaking as his brother, I think it is a neat idea and a very generous contribution to Golden Hills community,” said David.
Interested parties can contact Steve Shaw, who is the Facebook administrator of the Golden Hills Nature Preserve and Parks, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can also be reached at (530) 559-1902.