Back to the garden - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Back to the garden

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - The winds of change are already blowing through San Diego County.

"The way things are going now -- we've got fires out east -- I think we're going to see an active season," Chief Frank Twohy said.

He ought to know. He was one of the first firefighters on the scene of the Harmony Fire in October 1996, a wildfire that burned 30 homes in the small community of Harmony Grove and 100 more in the North County.

"As an offshoot of that, some people got together and said wouldn't it be great to have some form of demonstration garden for fire-resistant plants, draught-tolerant also in many cases," Twohy said.

Out of the ashes, volunteers from the community planted and continue to maintain the fire-safe garden.

"A lot of people think you have to have a garden that has no color, no life, no vibrancy, no texture at all, and yet as you see here it's summertime now… we have flowers that are blooming and it's really full of life," Twohy said.

This community garden has become a metaphor for the resiliency of a community, and for anyone who walks through it, it's an educational experience, a chance to learn before you burn.

"We've learned that we need to make some changes in the home that we live in, we need to make changes for our landscaping. We need to make defense better for our firefighters," a resident said.

The Harmony Fire showed us that we're all interlinked in the wildfire web. As goes Harmony Grove, so goes Carlsbad, La Costa and Encinitas which begs the question: What can we do as a community, not only to help other communities, but also help ourselves?

Harmony Grove's answer is to teach by example in this well-tended tapestry of triumph.

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