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Saturday, January 19 , 2019, 12:45 am | Fair 49º


‘Loop de Coop’ Fundraiser Comes Home for Roosts

Egg lovers flock to egg layers on Roosevelt School tour of no garden-variety backyard chicken coops

“These funky chickens sure are lucky ducks,” observed my 9-year-old companion as we toured six glamorous garden chicken abodes on the Upper Eastside during a Roosevelt School fundraiser Sunday. From penthouse perches to cozy condos, these chicks definitely knew a thing or two about living in style.

“Fat Chick Folly” is the whimsical title of Lynn Montgomery and Richard Kriegler’s family coop on Garden Street, which incorporates found items such as old futons and couch cushions to emphasize the three Rs of today: reduce, recycle and reuse. Their 105-year-old estate, Almenara, was recognizable to many as the CALM (Child Abuse Learning and Mediation) Design House from 1999, when the family first came to town.

Montgomery organized “Loop de Coop” as a fundraiser to send her daughter, Hannah, and her fellow Roosevelt fifth-graders to Astrocamp in May.

“None of the kids have ever gone to astronomy camp and there’s a wonderful camp up in Idyllwild,” she said. “I just think that science is so important and we have to improve the science education of our young people. There was a mention that this camp was available but we needed to raise at least $15,000 to send the kids, and I happened to raise my hand at the meeting and said, ‘I’ll take that on.’”

An environmental activist and ardent animal lover, Montgomery said her own backyard chickens inspired her to create this unique fundraiser.

“I love to watch the chickens in the garden,” she said. “I always feel like I’m looking at an old painting, just watching the chickens walk through and free range in the garden, it’s so beautiful and peaceful. I think it must lower your blood pressure.”

The brainchild of Roosevelt School parent Lynn Montgomery, the Loop de Coop benefit will help the fifth-grade class get to Astrocamp, which, at $15,000, isn't chicken feed.
The brainchild of Roosevelt School parent Lynn Montgomery, the Loop de Coop benefit will help the fifth-grade class get to Astrocamp, which, at $15,000, isn’t chicken feed. (Michelle J. Wong / Noozhawk photo)

Montgomery also sees the fundraiser as an opportunity to educate others in the community about chickens and how they reduce the human impact on earth’s resources, and the value of people being able to sustain themselves in these tough economic times.

The fifth-grade class sold most of the tickets to the event, with Maddy Rotman, Hannah Montgomery Kriegler and Danny Erlich emerging as the top ticket sellers.

“I’m the best of salesmen,” Danny said with an infectious grin. “I would ask almost anyone if they wanted to buy a ticket. I went door to door and sold quite a few.”

More clucks of delight could be heard from chicks at “Amelia’s Aerie” on Constance Street, where guests were able to hold one of the eight baby chicks. “The softest thing ever,” said my young friend. I, too, enjoyed the view and flower smells from this state-of-the-art orchid greenhouse, which shares its space with Polli di William and his feathered friends.

The history of the property is also fascinating. It was once owned by the late Mary Bea Noonan Ireland, the widow of Fred Noonan, navigator for the famous pilot Amelia Earhart.

Fowl-weather friends Janet Loughlin, left, and Adrienne Girod talk poultry during the Loop de Coop tour.
Fowl-weather friends Janet Loughlin, left, and Adrienne Girod pause for a poultry discussion during the Loop de Coop tour. (Michelle J. Wong / Noozhawk photo)

Earhart’s plane crashed in Hawaii in 1937 while they were on their first attempt to fly around the world. Ireland later built the greenhouse as a state-of-the-art place to grow orchids. Now owned by Gloria Cavallero and her husband, Bruce Belfiore, “Amelia’s Aerie” houses a variety of plants, along with the chickens. An airplane propeller hangs above the door of the chicken coop, in homage to its aeronautical history.

“Poultry Pantheon,” also on Constance Street, is a classic country chicken coop, owned by the Kunz family and designed by their grandfather, William Roledar, also known as a “Master of Fowl Fundamentals.” This coop sits in an espaliered, organic garden, and its name comes from the fact that the hens are all named after Greek and Roman goddesses.

“Chicken Compost Palace” on Anacapa Street is the home of well-known landscape architect Sydney Baumgartner, who was giving visitors lessons on the four-bin procedure she uses for composting. Strolling through her crabapple tunnel walk through the charming outdoor crystal chandelier room was a highlight of the tour, as well.

Chickens may have been the draw but goats were worth a hug, too, as 10-year-olds Katie Ward, right, and Megan Heollander, would attest.
Chickens may have been the draw but goats were worth a hug, too, as 10-year-olds Katie Ward, right, and Megan Heollander, would attest. (Michelle J. Wong / Noozhawk photo)

Back over on Garden Street at the home of Prudie and Steve Handelman (he’s a well-known ironsmith) was “Cluck’s Tavern,” a whimsical chicken coop created out of a children’s playhouse with the addition of a Wild West theme. It is charmingly situated behind the lavish garden of this Santa Barbara Beautiful Award-Winning Historic home, known as “The Olives.”

Rounding off the tour was a mini farm on Puesta del Sol Road, owned by Annette and Luis Goena. This bucolic setting is known as “Los Colibros” (“The Hummingbirds”), a historic 1870 white frame farmhouse situated near the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and outside of the city limits. In fact, on this property is the original Natural History Museum building, started in 1916 by William Dawson with a collection of more than 5,000 eggs. Today the Goenas have 30 chickens, two roosters and six goats. Needless to say, it was a treat to see all of that wildlife just minutes away from downtown Santa Barbara.

Just when I thought I had been to every kind of fundraiser imaginable, touring these six delightfully distinctive chicken coops made for a fun and, dare I say it, “egg-citing” event — especially since it was for a great cause. It’s not too late to donate to the Roosevelt School camp fund. For more information, call 805.563.2062.

Noozhawk contributor Leslie Dinaberg can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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