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Farm to Gable

By Matt Katz

 

ublicity hounds rarely choose
Ventura as their home, so it came as no great surprise when the owner of the mod glass house on our cover elected to remain anonymous. All we know about her is that she’s a she—and, apparently, she’s a sheer delight: “loving, caring, and philanthropic,” according to designer Philip Nimmo, who we enlisted to riff on a selection of photos showcasing the stylish abode (p. 46).

A relatively dim spotlight is part of the draw for many intriguing characters who call our county seat home. This is a place where celebrities can roam freely among the common herd, often without being noticed, much less ogled. They can breeze up and down the 101—meetings in L.A., dinner in Santa Barbara—then return to the quietude of their nest in humble Ventura.

This unassuming vibe is one of our county’s finest assets. Or so I believe. Yet we’d relegated that article to the no-cigar pile. Thing is, we rarely green-light pieces that don’t include some flesh and blood. But this thoughtfully designed hillside home with an incognito owner hooked us. Beyond the Imax-worthy view, it’s a supremely livable dwelling, with no shortage of panache to set it apart.

So in this case, we made the structure itself the star of the article, supporting it with Nimmo’s firsthand descriptions and a strikingly clean layout to match its contemporary style.

In a perfect world, we’d have co-spotlighted the home and its owner. But ideal rarely happens. Which made working on an article about the solar-powered dwelling of Chris Frederic (p. 11) such a joy. This is the archetype of a Ventana story, an editorial dream scenario where a local resident worked with a local designer to build a captivating and thoroughly cool local home.

The creative process led to a lasting friendship between Frederic and architect CJ Paone, as the two became so wrapped up in the task it evolved into something of an art project, a true labor of love. In this home, the confluence of passion and practicality, of ideology and art occurred so naturally that the all-too-common owner/architect drama of many homebuilding projects wasn’t even a thought. These two gamboled through the process, brainstorming for half a year before even rolling up their sleeves to really get started.

As for the other half of our Home + Garden theme, we showcase a conversation with local permaculturist Eric Werbalowski (p. 17). Eric and his partner in life and business, Kristen Kiki Marozzi, have a largely self-sufficient garden at their home in West Ventura. It’s an admirable setup, with salads growing on the kitchen patio, chickens clucking about turning and fertilizing the soil, and jars brimming with homegrown and homemade relishes, jams, and pickles.

To me, this sort of back-to-the-land culture is about more than good eating or eco-idealism; it represents joie de vivre.

A few months back, I read an article about a tech entrepreneur who compiled a list of 35 nutrients required for survival, ordered them online—mostly in pill or powder form—and blended them into something resembling “gooey lemonade.” He then proceeded to live on this chemical salmagundi. At the end of a year, he was, according to him and the article, looking and feeling great—all thanks to the functional-but-no-fun concoction he named Soylent.

Now, as the parent of two young kids (Hot dogs! Pizza! Ice cream!), I’m drawn to the streamlined efficiency of this nutrient delivery system. But we live in one of the principal agricultural areas of a state that, on its own, would be the world’s ninth-largest agricultural economy.

Even if we don’t have the time or drive to fully embrace the farm-to-table ethos, we’re lucky to live close to the source. And that’s something to be joyful about.

09-01-2014

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