Backyard Farmer – Okra Fun

Written by: Ada Walker

With the encouragement of Eric at Civano Nursery – and just for fun – on June 12 I planted red okra seeds in a large empty pot. Eric told me that the plant was really beautiful. I decided that even if I didn’t get an okra harvest, I would have a pretty plant for the summer months. Well, I kept 2 plants in the pot, and they have really red stems, big green leaves, and large bright yellow blossoms. In addition to how pretty it is, I have had enough okra 3 times for a dinner side dish. The okra in the picture here will be on tonight’s menu.

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Today’s Okra Harvest









Since one side of my family is from the South, I have had fried okra many times. Most people turn up their noses, because they have been told that it is slimy, and they don’t know how to cook it. The red okra surprisingly was not slimy, and all I do is mix cornmeal with a tiny bit of flour, toss the sliced okra rounds in a tiny bit of milk (to actually make it slimy), coat the okra with the cornmeal, and sauté in a bit of olive oil. It’s really delicious.

Notice how pretty the blossoms are.






Houghton Road Dedication, June 24, 2014

By Town Crier Staff

Bob Small, Civano HOA President, address the gathering

With the paving finally completed in front of Civano, the new road was dedicated by representatives of the city (Mayor Jonathan Rothschild), Ward 4 (Shirley Scott), individuals of the construction companies and members of the Regional Transit Authority (RTA). In addition, the community of Civano was represented by Bob Small, who worked as our liaison with the various parties involved in the planning and construction of the road going past our area.

Bob Small’s comments drew a laugh from the audience when he revealed that the men’s coffee group in Civano had a pool to bet on the completion date of the construction; however, he failed to reveal who won the bet.

In the audience were a number of our residents, among whom were Manny and Maria Cabranes, Jerry and Ada Walker, Judyth Willis, and Sheila McGuinnis. We were well represented. The ceremony concluded with a ribbon cutting, after which refreshments were available.

George Brookbank—Tucson’s First Master Gardener

By Susan Call

When Civano was being designed as a new community, its planners made the decision that some of its streets would honor local Tucson leaders. People were recongized for their contributions to the city in areas such as peace keeping (Sixto Molino, the Royalstons), and civic improvements (Cele Peterson, George Tolman, Wayne Moody). One street in particular is very fitting for our neighborhood because it is named for the man who introduced community gardens to Tucson: George Brookbank.

George Brookbank came to Tucson from England originally, where he had been educated in agriculture at Reading University and Downing College, Cambridge. After attending the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture in Trinidad, West Indies, he ended up working in Tanganyika for thirteen years. There he helped underdeveloped communities improve their agricultural productivity.

In Africa he said his professional career as an Agricultural Officer had him dealing with how to protect crops from monkeys, baboon, pigs and elephants, which was perhaps good preparation for his later work in Tucson, starting in 1971. Then some of his duties involved helping residents learn how to live with javalina, rabbits, squirrels and other desert wildlife.

His work in Tucson also included radio shows, a weekly TV program and a column in the local newspaper, all having to do with urban gardening. He provided demonstrations at the Extension Center on North Campbell Avenue and in Green Valley. He began the Master Gardener Program, which was a natural outgrowth of the volunteers he trained for the Cooperative Extension Service. And along the way he somehow found time to help people develop neighborhood or community gardens. He said the first garden came about because a resident wanted to know how to deal with keeping down the weeds in a vacant lot. So the 50 foot by 30 foot wide urban lot became a garden.

It could be said that our Civano Commnnity Garden on Richard Ashely Circle is a tribute to this man, George Brookbank, whose influence is felt in so many ways throughout Tucson. He was one of the original proponents for the restoration of the Mission Garden, on the other side of the Santa Cruz River, which is near the Mercado San Agustin, easily reached via the new streetcar.

Last April longtime Civano residents on the street bearing his name, Craig and Bobbie Feltheim, entertained George (now 90 years old) at their home for a Saturday morning coffee. A number of neighbors had the opportunity to meet him and express their appreciation for his efforts on behalf of our community.

George Brookbank also wrote several books on desert gardening and landscaping. Some of the most popular are Desert Landscaping, The Desert Gardener’s Calendar, and Desert Gardening—Fruits and Vegetables, The Complete Guide.

Backyard Farmer

By: Ada Walker – August 2014

In January friends of Jerry’s and mine in Southern California introduced us to their new hobby – growing vegetables in a VegTrug from Gardners Supply. They were having so much fun, and we were immediately addicted! We ordered a VegTrug along with many other items available from Gardeners Supply. Our friends sent us a book “Extreme Gardening, How To Grow Organic in the Hostile Deserts” (wonderful book), and we were off and running! We started simply with plants from Civano Nursery – several types of lettuce, celery, kale, onions, scallions and garlic, and a few strawberry plants. Vegies that were easy to grow, and we had some success, especially with the lettuce, kale and green onions. e                

Civano - Ada's Winter Garden - March 2014
Winter Garden – March 2014
Summer Garden – July 2014









Then we planted a summer garden. Our eggplant and bell peppers were so prolific that we had a hard time keeping up with the harvest. We have several meals of eggplant parmesan and slices of cooked eggplant in the freezer, and we have also frozen many peppers. Our 3 basil plants produced many batches of pesto sauce – also in the freezer – and many containers of dried herbs as well. We feel like true farmers. We are planning our next winter garden using the Gardeners Supply online program, as we also have a raised bed in another area of our yard. This winter we’re going to try growing from seeds. Lots of fun!

Bell Peppers – July 2014
Eggplant – July 2014










What has the Civano Model Yacht Club been up to for the past few years?

by: Jerry Walker, Commodore, Pima Micro Yacht Club

Three years ago, the Civano Model Yacht Club was formed over coffee by Bill Brown, Jerry Robertson and myself, Jerry Walker. Two years ago, we changed our name to the Pima Micro Yacht Club to reflect our broad Tucson representation. Since then we have grown to 16 very active weekly model yacht racers at the Reid Park ponds. Our 2014 Winter Season will begin in November and I anticipate 20 or more active racers. You already know some of our members: Bill Brown, Warren Fisher, Keith McAllister, Richard Mosby, Jerry Robertson, Leland Doorenbos and myself. Two years ago Bill Brown served as our Commodore. For this past, 2013-2014, season I have served as Comodore.

If you are intrigued by boats that move only by the forces of the wind, come on out to the pond on Mondays. Until November, we are sailing on the small Reid Park Pond, off  22nd St. across from the McDonald’s restaurant from 10:00 a.m. to noon. My model yacht, number 49, is always available to be skippered by visitors – adults and kids.

In the picture are Jerry Robertson’s boat, No. 11 and mine, No. 49, dueling it out for first place. And just for fun, here is a picture of Fred Seckor, another of our members, and I on a race day.

If you can get free on Mondays and you tend toward the older part of our society, we can assure you of a lot of laughs and good sailing competition. If boat building is not your thing, we get our hands on ready- to-sail models occasionally. If you enjoy the challenge of building, you can be on the pond in about two weeks for less than $200 starting with a kit from the Hobby Barn.

Check out our website at and on Facebook at Pima Micro Yacht Club.

Civano Artisan & Business Expo

Civano Neighbors is organizing the Civano Artisan & Business Expo on Sunday, March 23, 2014 to promote the many local businesses located within our community including Civano Nursery, Inn at Civano, Del Sol B&B & Dizzy Lizard Gift Shop, Beauty Is, Skin & Body Fitness, Civano Coffee House, Tucson Stretch & Pilates, Under One Sun, Ballet Rincon and Civano Eye Care. Joining these storefront businesses will be over fifty juried artists and crafters who will display their unique handmade creations, as well as a variety of home-based neighborhood businesses who will have information about their goods and services.

Civano Artisan & Business Expo will run from 10 am to 4 pm in and around the Civano Neighborhood Center at 10501 E. Seven Generations Way, Tucson, AZ 85747. Many expo participants will be offering a variety of giveaways, and cold beverages, baked goods and freshly made kettle corn will be on sale. The Tucson Food Trucks will also roundup from 12 pm to 4 pm at the adjacent Mary Webber Park in Civano.

Come enjoy a wonderful day visiting our little community, off Houghton Road, near the corner of Irvington Road.

For more information, contact Linda Green at (520) 247-0493.

Vandalism in Civano: The Retelling of an Old, Sad Story

By Judyth Willis

VandalismA few weeks ago, an act of vandalism was committed against a resident’s house in Civano. The remains of a bucket of paint left on the sidewalk in front of the house seemed to say, “There, I did it!” It was a senseless act of vandalism: paint thrown all over the front door, a wall, and the floor of the porch.

This senseless and cowardly act brought to mind a short story written by William Faulkner in 1939. It is the story of a man eaten up by hate and determined to commit revenge against a world of his own making. Perhaps you read “Barn Burning” during your school days. If not, here is the Wikipedia summary:

Abner Snopes, the father of young “Sarty” Snopes, is being driven out of town after burning down his landlord’s barn. In the court case that opens the story and in which Sarty is initially called to testify, no palpable proof can point to Abner as the culprit, but the Snopes family is ordered to leave the county. They move to a new place where Abner is to work as a sharecropper for Major de Spain, but Abner cannot seem to control his pyromania and hatred for society.

Shortly after arriving at his new position, Abner visits Major de Spain’s house and tracks horse droppings on a blond rug. Major de Spain orders Abner to clean the rug, which he does by using a harsh lye soap, ruining the rug beyond repair, before throwing the rug onto Major de Spain’s front porch. Major de Spain levies on Abner a fine of 20 bushels of corn against the price of the rug. At court, a Justice of the Peace reduces the fine to ten bushels of corn. Feeling once again wronged, Abner makes preparations to set fire to Major de Spain’s barn. Sarty warns Major de Spain of his father’s intentions to burn down his barn and then flees in the direction of his father. He is soon overtaken by Major de Spain on his horse and jumps into the ditch to get out of the way. Sarty hears three gun shots, but who gets shot is never revealed; the father and the brother appear in works set after “Barn Burning”. Profoundly affected by his father’s legacy, the boy does not return to his family but continues on with his life alone.

The question is how did the boy, Sarty, come to his own sense of right and wrong? What kept him from being ground down and turned into a violent, ignorant animal like his older brother, John. In my opinion, it was Sarty’s mother, Lennie. There is evidence in the story that Lennie, who had lived her married life under the violent hand of a bitter man, one who was unable to provide even the basics for his family, had managed to convey to Sarty the idea of living his own truth. There is evidence also that Lennie came from a better life than the one she endured married to Abner. The wagon loaded with their meager belongings held an old, non-working mother-of-pearl-inlaid clock. Perhaps it was Lennie’s one reminder of who she truly was. The wagon also held Lennie’s sister. I like to think that Abner felt the judgment of those women for his despicable acts of hatred and violence.

All of this makes me think about the person who committed the vandalism in Civano. Acting out, as Abner Snopes did and the person who committed the vandalism in Civano did, does not resolve anything. It does, however, put the angry person outside the law.

What has happened here is just an enactment of an old and rather sad story and I sincerely hope there is no young boy or girl, like Sarty, who will have to choose between the teaching of his/her parents in order to find the truth of right and wrong.

For another neighbor take, read Susan Call’s “What’s Happening Here?”

Bus Route Coming to Southeast Tucson in August

By Pat Richter, Sun Tran

Sun ShuttleSun Shuttle, the City of Tucson and the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) are working towards starting a new bus route for southeastern Tucson. The route will connect riders from southeast Tucson neighborhoods — including Civano and Sierra Morado — to UA Tech Park to the south, and Pima College East and Kob & Broadway to the north. A new 30-foot, wheelchair-accessible bus has been purchased for the route. The bus will be installed with a bike rack so bike riders can take their bikes with them on their trips. The route will tentatively start in mid-August.

The bus fare will mirror Sun Tran rates, and riders will be able to transfer to and from Sun Tran routes for free. Riders can transfer to and from Sun Tran routes at the Park & Rides at Kolb & Broadway, Pima College East and Old Vail Road near Houghton.

The RTA and the City are currently working together to install bus stop signs along the route. You should start seeing them pop up along the route this month. Once they’re installed, then the start date and schedule will be finalized.

Sun Shuttle Route 450 will be paid for by a combination of Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) and federal funding. Current funding for this route will provide bus service Monday through Friday for roughly 13 hours per day

Waving Hello for a Friendlier and Safer Neighborhood

By Simmons Buntin

Simmons, wavingOn the thinly paved roads of rural Oklahoma, it’s one finger raised from the top of the steering wheel. On the rolling oak hammocks of east central Texas, it’s a pinch of the hat brim in unison with a nod. In the sultry backwoods of Mississippi and Alabama, it’s raising four fingers from the gentle motion of the fanning hand.

And in the southeastern Arizona community of Civano and Sierra Morado, it’s surprisingly absent. I’m talking about waving to neighbors to say hello. Many of the communities I’ve been to have their own, slightly unique way of waving hello. Yet I’m often surprised to find that a number of people in Civano and Sierra Morado don’t wave.

A History of Waving?

A quick search on the Internet didn’t turn up much regarding a history of waving to say hello — there’s a hit Christian single titled “Just Wave Hello” from Charlotte Church that appears to be more about the Apocalypse than greeting your neighbors (though apparently it will be used in the upcoming Olympics); Mao Tse Tung in a permanent blue-handed wave, looking more out of necessity than neighborliness; and people in personal photos from all over the world waving hello, and they seem to really mean it. But nothing about the monumental “first wave,” or perhaps, how waving started as a tradition on the savannahs of Africa to get another person’s attention over the tall grass.

What’s clear, though, is that waving is a universally accepted way of saying hello when the voice just won’t do — and sometimes even when it will.

In fairness, I should say I don’t see that much waving when I’m driving in the neighborhoods — between me and the pedestrian or other driver — or when I’m walking — between me and someone driving. But there are even times when I’m walking or riding my bike and my wave is not returned by another person walking, or running, or cycling.

Perhaps people don’t wave so much when a vehicle is involved because of the speed of the car, or the inherent dichotomy between soft-fleshed pedestrian and steel-skinned automobile, or even the glint of the sun off the windshield.

The Case for Waving

Rather than exploring the causes for our apparent lack of waving, however, I’d like to make a case for increased waving: it makes Civano and Sierra Morado friendlier and safer places.

Neighbors wavingThat waving to say hello makes our neighborhood a friendlier place is obvious. Greeting folks, whether verbally or through friendly hand gestures, provides positive reinforcement for our attachment to this place, and the other people who live here. Like the difference between a dog’s playful bark and an aggressive growl, a simple hand wave is a welcome sign that we are, after all, welcome.

So how can waving actually make a place safer? Here’s a scenario: I pull into the neighborhood in the middle of the day, when in my particular section of Civano most of the children are in school and parents are at work, or out running errands. I wave to an exiting neighbor as I pull in, the letter carrier as she loads mail into one of the streetside stations, and a construction worker who’s traveling a bit too fast on Civano Boulevard. My wave says hello, but also signals him to slow down, which in fact he does.

Now the neighborhood’s just a bit safer, right? Yes, but that’s not all. As I pull onto Thunder Sky, I notice someone turning into a carriage lane who I haven’t seen before. Our eyes meet and I wave. He stops, looking a bit confounded, and waves back, but quickly turns away.

A criminal? Probably not, but it’s documented that robbers and other criminals are less likely to victimize a neighborhood where they can be identified. By being waved to, a criminal has been acknowledged. In being acknowledged, that person could be identified — or there’s a risk of that in the criminal’s mind, which makes this neighborhood a less attractive target.

Simply waving to folks — which I admit makes me feel better, to boot — creates a sense of friendliness and safety that is just another step in making Civano and Sierra Morado a more cohesive and outstanding community. I look forward to waving hello to you soon!

Join Us for the 1st Annual Civano Oktoberfest, Oct. 15th!

I Hear (Pretzel) Civano Oktoberfest 2011Join us on Saturday, October 15th from noon to 3 p.m. in the Civano neighborhood center for our first annual Civano Oktoberfest!

What’s on tap (so to speak)?

BBQ by grillmasters Simmons Buntin and Todd Craig, and featuring traditional Oktoberfest fare: bratwurst, hot dogs, veggie burgers, and more

We’ll also provide chips, cakes, punch, and water. We are not serving alcohol at this event: BYOB.

Please bring a side dish to share with neighbors.

Music by The Wayback Machine, a Tucson favorite playing blues, rock and roll, and reggae.

Civano and local vendors and businesses with displays.

Games for kids of all ages!

Great Civano merchandise for sale:

  • Oktoberfest T-shirts – $12
  • Glass Civano steins with Civano logo in green – $10
  • Plastic mugs with 1st Annual Oktoberfest logo – $4 (with root beer float!)
  • Collectible Civano Oktoberfest badges – free!

This free event is brought to you by:

  • Civano Neighbors Neighborhood Association
  • Civano 1 Homeowners Association
  • Casey Stockdale and Duane Bateman, Long Realty
  • Vivi Tornero and Team Coppel, Long Realty
  • M&I Bank at Houghton and Broadway

We’re seeking more sponsors! Hey, we’re also seeking additional volunteers, vendors, neighborhood displays, and other folks to help out. Please contact Craig Geiger at 520.305.4576 or

Keep up with event planning and more on the Oktoberfest Facebook page: