The Dervaes family, a family of four in Pasadena, California, grows around 6,000 pounds of produce each year on their property—less than one tenth of an acre! They have nicknamed their mini farm the “Urban Homestead.” One of the best things about this home (aside from the efficiency of space), is that all of the food grown there is entirely organic! Imagine going to your backyard and harvesting your own fruits and vegetables for each meal of the day. This idea puts a whole new meaning to the phrase “from farm to table.”
Head of the family, Jules Dervaes, started the farm 30 years ago in an effort to take back natural food produced the way that was aligned with his own values, and to develop a deeper sense of environmental consciousness.
Jules has 3 children that have been a part of this amazing project for nearly all of their lives, and they have all helped to utilize every inch of their property to support a huge variety of organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Everything produced on the Urban Homestead is free of chemical pesticides and fertilizers and is grown organically.
Not every year is the same, however. Yields and varieties can fluctuate, but during peak years the small farm can accommodate about 400 varieties of plants. Factors such as drought, insects, urban wildlife, and even shadows from neighbouring trees and homes can all lead to smaller yields, crop sizes, and varieties. On top of all the produce, which is more than the family of four eats, eggs, honey, and biodiesel are also produced.
90% of the Dervaes family’s diet comes directly from their garden. In this way, they are saving a huge expense in grocery bills, especially when you consider the price of organics and what seems to be the skyrocketing price of produce in general. On their website, www.urbanhomestead.org, they claim to save around $75,000 annually and the family has enough food left over from their harvests each year to sell and earn them an additional $20,000. This is quite impressive!
How Can You Start Your Own Urban Homestead?
Well, of course this will largely depend on the amount of space you have to work with, but even with a small backyard you can do some amazing things to maximize the space. The Dervaes family hosts classes and workshops that you can attend to learn more about how to effectively maximize your space to yield as much produce as possible, and also learn some simple gardening tips and tricks.
On top of how to grow your own garden, if you visit their website you can find various other techniques about composting, energy saving, DIY projects, recipes for food, everyday personal care products, how to raise chickens, and so much more. If it involves living simply, you can find it here.
“Whether you live in an apartment, suburb, or on 10 acres, our mission is to connect with folks who yearn to take back their food and live a more sustainable and conscious lifestyle,” Jules told MindBodyGreen. “We can all take small steps that collectively have a big impact. Even if it’s planting a window of herbs or supporting your local farmers market.”
Grow Food, Not Lawns
For even more ideas on how you can begin taking control of your food check out Grow Food, Not Lawns. This is a website loaded with many ideas and solutions for even those of you that only have a balcony to work with. And if that is the case, check out 5 DIY Projects For People Who Don’t Have Space For A Garden. If you simply have no room, or no way to grown your own food, you might want to consider seeing if there are any communal gardens in your area. This can be a great way to get active, get growing, and possibly meet some like-minded people at the same time. You could consider growing different things and sharing with the other members of the garden.
At the very least, supporting your local farmers market and the local produce section of your grocery store can have a big impact on how your food is being produced. It sends a big “no thank you” to corporations like Monsanto who make genetically modified produce, and chemical companies who make the pesticides for conventionally-grown produce. Buying local also greatly reduces the amount of energy used to grow and deliver the food to grocery stores. This is another fine example of voting with your dollar and putting your money where your mouth is.
As Jules once said:
In our society, growing food yourself has become the most radical of acts. It is truly the only effective protest, one that can—and will—overturn the corporate powers that be. By the process of directly working in harmony with nature, we do the one thing most essential to change the world—we change ourselves.
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