Quantcast

Revolutionary Family Shows True Meaning of Self-Reliance

Food

Think you can't grow much food in an urban area? Think again. One family's 4,000 square foot farm in Pasadena, California "not only feeds a family but revolutionizes the idea of what can be done in a very unlikely place—the middle of a city." KCET reporter Val Zavala gives us a glimpse into the Dervaes family's Path to Freedom Urban Homestead. "I brought the country to the city rather than having to go out to the country," said Jules Dervaes, who created the farm with his three adult children, Justin, Anais and Jordanne.

This urban homestead produces 6,000 pounds of food a year.

They grow almost all of the food they need. Ninety percent of their all-organic, vegetarian diet comes from their garden. The operation involves 400 varieties of vegetables, fruits and edible flowers, which is 6,000 pounds of food a year. They raise eight chickens, four ducks and two goats, which provide them with eggs and milk. Chefs from high-end restaurants come directly to their house to buy their excess.

When asked if he had any doubts in the beginning, Jules admits he did. "I kept thinking this place was too small. There's no way that we are going to be able to feed ourselves, plus I never thought we'd be able to grow the vegetables for the market," he said. Dervaes decided to embark on this endeavor because he was concerned about what was in his and his children's food. He wanted them to eat organic, GMO-free food, and he knew the best way to ensure that was to grow it himself.

The Dervaes' say they love their homesteading lifestyle and couldn't imagine it any other way.

The family has a solar panel on the roof that provides all of their electricity. Not that they use much. Most of their "gizmos," says Anais, "are hand-powered" like their hand-crank smoothie maker. That puts their electricity bill at about $12 per month. Their car runs on biodiesel, which they make from vegetable waste that restaurants drop off at their house for free. These people have all the hook ups.

But it's not all sunshine and flowers (though they have plenty of both). The Dervaes' work very hard, make roughly $20,000 a year and have to deal with weather-related disasters, pests, disease and now climate change. Justin said, "we've been gardening so long that you can sense things are off. We have this little bug, the Junebug, that comes out in June, but now it doesn't come out until July, August and September—so something is off." Water is also a serious issue. With the drought in California, Jules has relied on clay pot irrigation, an ancient form of irrigation, to conserve water.

All that hard work is well worth it when the family sits down to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

By growing all of their food themselves, except staples such as wheat, rice and oats, they are able to eat fresh and delicious, organic food for $2 a day per person. They have attracted a lot of attention since they began homesteading in the mid 1980s. Many homesteaders have emulated their model. They offer workshops and events on their farm, and they even have a blog. They are proof of the bounty you can grow on one-tenth of an acre.

Watch here as KCET's Zavala reports on this revolutionary family:

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Grow Food Year Round With Radically Sustainable Passive Solar Greenhouse

10 Most Important Things We Can Do to Change the Food System

Finding Solutions That Nourish Ourselves and Protect the Planet

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A Starbucks barista prepares a drink at a Starbucks Coffee Shop location in New York. Ramin Talaie / Corbis via Getty Images

By Cathy Cassata

Are you getting your fill of Starbucks' new Almondmilk Honey Flat White, Oatmilk Honey Latte, and Coconutmilk Latte, but wondering just how healthy they are?

Read More
Radiation warning sign at the Union Carbide uranium mill in Rifle, Colorado, in 1972. Credit: National Archives / Environmental Protection Agency, public domain

By Sharon Kelly

Back in April last year, the Trump administration's Environmental Protection Agency decided it was "not necessary" to update the rules for toxic waste from oil and gas wells. Torrents of wastewater flow daily from the nation's 1.5 million active oil and gas wells and the agency's own research has warned it may pose risks to the country's drinking water supplies.

Read More
Sponsored
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg takes part in a "Friday for Future" youth demonstration in a street of Davos on Jan. 24, 2020 on the sideline of the World Economic Forum annual meeting. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP via Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin pretended not to know who Greta Thunberg is, and then he told her to get a degree in economics before giving world leaders advice, as The Guardian reported.

Read More
The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite on the Suomi NPP satellite acquired this image of forest fire smoke hovering over North America on Aug. 15, 2018. NASA Earth Observatory

New York City isn't known for having the cleanest air, but researchers traced recent air pollution spikes there to two surprising sources — fires hundreds of miles away in Canada and the southeastern U.S.

Read More
If temperatures continue to rise, the world is at risk from global sea-level rise, which will flood many coastal cities as seen above in Bangladesh. NurPhoto / Contributor / Getty Images

The mounting climate emergency may spur the next global financial crisis and the world's central banks are woefully ill equipped to handle the consequences, according to a new book-length report by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), as S&P Global reported. Located in Basel, Switzerland, the BIS is an umbrella organization for the world's central banks.

Read More