Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, June 5, 2010


Homes & Property

 Mountain Views News Saturday, June 5, 2010

One Of A Kind: Featuring unique homes & gardens and the people who create them Story and Photos By Chris Bertrand

This is almost a fairy tale story; one where fact is sweeter than fairy tale. 

Once upon a time, a Sierra Madre family walked by a home under remodel 
on their way to and from school every day. Over the months, they got 
to know the nice couple working on the home, exchanging pleasantries 
during construction.

When the remodel was complete, to the family’s surprise and delight, the 
couple offered their large, unused side yard to the family’s school for a 
student garden. When the topic of garden beds came up, the owner built 
planter boxes, consulted with Armstrong’s in Monrovia for advice, then 
quietly had premium quality planting medium, the “chocolate cake of 
topsoils,” delivered for the children’s use. Plans for pathways and additional fencing evolved. A parent 
with a construction company pitched in with the plumbing for irrigation. Others contributed plants 
cash and labor.

Such is the stuff of small towns like Sierra Madre. The stuff that builds and binds a community, children 
to elders, strangers to neighbors, students to stewardship of the land around them.

Principal, Joanne Harabedian was blown away by how the garden project unfolded. “It was a dream 
come true after discussing garden boxes and options for years. Sharing their yard with us (for a school 
garden) was a generous gift but that was just the start of their hospitality with the planter boxes and soil 
and… and … and. They blew me away with their down to earth hospitality, generosity and humility. It 
took me back to when I was a kid and neighbors shared without expecting anything in return. If love 
makes a garden grow, we will have 
a forest in no time! Volunteering 
is an incredible thing. It builds a 
special bond between special people 
who share their talents and learn 
something new every time they 
come together.”

Today, the garden is alive with 
children actively engaged in growing 
food… learning how food grows and 
develops, the challenges of growing 
from seed, breaking the surface 
tension of soil so the water doesn’t 
run off without nourishing the plant, 
the quick growth of weeds and the 
joy of a ripe homegrown strawberry.

Gina Cloer and Robin Nardoni have 
taken on the shepherding of these 
young gardeners at St. Rita School 
in Sierra Madre on a new path, an 
untested journey in this new, gifted 
garden. They have patiently guided 
enthusiastic hands and trowels into 
newly formed furrows of beans. 

They have taught young arms to haul 
extra water to corn that’s waist high 
to a third grader at the end of May. 
They’ve put rakes and fingertips to 
the test of keeping the weeds from 
stealing nutrients from their precious eggplants, tomatoes, 
strawberries, corn, beans and more. Cloer commented, “This 
is brand new territory since the project just began. Our initial 
plan is to have the children enjoy the produce in simple ways. 
For example, we have cilantro that is ready now. I will be 
making a fresh cilantro lime dressing and have the children 
dip some lettuce in it and give it a try.” 

Nardoni reflected, “To have been on the receiving end of such 
generosity is amazing. I hope one day when my kids are grown 
I can befriend a neighbor family and offer such an experience 
as they have for me and my family.”

Julie Cambonga, third grade teacher at the school has proudly 
observed the life lessons her students are absorbing from the 
new garden. “The list is long, and they’re concepts not easily 
taught in the traditional classroom setting especially to third 
graders… cooperation, ownership, pride in your work, global 
awareness and care for the land.”

Big lessons from dirt, water and seedlings!

Know of an interesting home, garden or person who helps create 
them? Send the details to 

The School Garden: Learning responsibility, stewardship and the joy of growing food

Chris Bertrand


WHAT: The Pasadena chapter of ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) will host 
a design forum themed “Is Your House in ‘Desperate’ Need?” Forum includes three speakers 
followed by a panel discussion and Q &A with interior designers, architects, and building 

WHO: Mark Cherry, “Desperate Housewives” writer and executive producer, on “How to 
Design Your Life,” including experiences he has had writing and producing the show 

 Eric Carlson, “Desperate Housewives” production designer, on design inspirations 
for the show set on Wisteria Lane

 Gabrielle Gliniak, interior designer and former film industry art director, on her 
career in the film industry and how she translated it to residential interior design

WHEN: Tuesday, June 8, 2010 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon

WHERE: Pasadena Civic Auditorium 300 E. Green Street Pasadena

TICKETS: $40 each, including continental breakfast and a chance to win an escorted tour of the 
“Desperate Housewives” sets and stages located at Universal Studios in California 

To purchase tickets, call the ASID Pasadena chapter office: (626) 795-6898. For more information, visit

It has been estimated that termites cause 
$5 billion in property damage every year 
in this country. That makes them more of 
a threat to homeowners than flood, wind, 
or even fire. And yet, the Federal Housing 
Administration (FHA) demands separate 
termite inspections only if the state or local 
laws require it, or if there is an outright 
suspicion of damage. 

Termites thrive in the warmer climates of 
the South/Southeast and West/Southwest, 
but states on the East Coast and even in the 
Midwest have areas of high risk. Outside 
those regions, still all it takes is the right 
combination of warmth, food and moisture 
to invite a termite infestation. 

As a homebuyer, you would be well advised 
to determine whether the home you are 
offering to purchase is under a termite 
protection plan, and to seek a separate 
termite inspection, even if it's not required. 
Older homes in particular may be at 
risk, because of the possibility of cracked 
foundations, but even new homes could 
be potential targets if the builders did not 
correctly perform termite pretreatments. 

You probably won't notice the little buggers 
until the damage is already done, so be sure 
to get your home into a termite inspection 
and treatment program as soon as possible 
after your purchase. If you have any doubts 
about inspections, ask your real estate 
representative for advice. 

Luther Tsinoglou has just been named the 
top producing sales agent in Dickson Podley 
Realtor's Sierra Madre office for 2009, making 
the top 10% at the company overall. Luther 
has been licensed and practicing real estate 
since 1992. He specializes in residential and 
income property in Southern California. 
Luther can be reached at his direct line (626) 
695-8650 or at

MVNews this week:  Page 13