Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

A fond farewell to the Henderson Garden Group


July 15, 2021

The Henderson Garden Group (HGG) originated when advancing age made it impossible for Bob Henderson to continue his garden without help. In 2009 he started asking people to join in the effort.

I was a retiree from the USAF with an undergraduate degree in agriculture from the University of Missouri specializing in soils and agronomy. I was pleased to be asked to join Bob's gardening group. He asked only that we have a love of gardening, contribute $50 per year to help cover expenses, and a willingness to work, learn, and let him share in the harvest. In return we got to enjoy working with the finest garden soil that I have ever encountered, enjoy the camaraderie of fellow gardeners, a bountiful harvest protected by an electric fence, and use of all Bob’s equipment and supplies.

After Bob’s death and his very generous gift of his property to the American Bald Eagle Foundation (ABEF), I acted as spokesperson for the group. It was our understanding that Bob specifically asked ABEF to allow and encourage gardening groups such as ours to continue. The title spokesperson is inaccurate, as I was never asked by ABEF for any input concerning the garden area, but merely acted as a conduit for relaying declarations made by the ABEF to the other members of the HHG.

Initially ABEF asked for a rental of 2 cents per square foot per year. Later they increased it to 5 cents. At this time we asked to double the size of our garden (which ABEF approved) so we could sell anticipated excess produce at the Haines Farmer’s Market to pay rent and other anticipated expenses. Although this meant lots of additional work for all of us, we never regretted the decision, because sharing our produce with our customers added a new dimension to our gardening experience.

At this time we regret to inform our customers and friends at the Farmer’s Market that the HGG is disbanding. We came to this decision because we don’t feel that we have been able to function properly for the past two years. First because of restrictions imposed by ABEF due to COVID-19, and now as a result of possible asphalt contamination due to last winter’s flooding. An email from Cheryl McRoberts, Executive Director of ABEF, on May 4, 2021, advised us that ABEF was closing the farm down and would give us until May 31 to remove our personal gardening items from the farm and out of the sheds. The ABEF owns the property, and can legally do with the property as they want. They are primarily interested in aviaries, not agronomy.

That being said, this has been a wonderful 10+ years and we will be eternally grateful for the wonderful garden experience that Bob Henderson provided for us.

Paid for by Bob Lix.


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