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Urban Homestead Inc.

In 1985 the Dervaes family bought a run-down circa 1917 craftsman-style house in the metropolis of Pasadena (the 7th largest city in Los Angeles County) which is just 15 minutes from downtown Los Angeles and is located between the intersection of 134 and 210 freeways which are 30 yards from their home.

 

Downsizing from rural 10 acres in Florida to the suburban 1/10 acre, the Dervaes family thought they’d have to put aside their “country” lifestyle.   But, try as the city life may, it couldn’t take their country ways.  Instead, they decided to bring their country homesteading lifestyle to their urban plot.

 

No one thought it was possible – not even them (at the start).   They forged ahead and with no small means of blood, sweat and tears, and they worked to transform the ordinary 66′ x 132′  [ SEE: Comparison Diagram of Property ] urban plot into an extraordinary example of homesteading in the city.

Despite its size, the Urban Homestead project is a fully functioning urban farm in every way  (although, some of us believe it should more aptly be described as a 10-ring circus) and it supplies their family with 6,000 pounds of organic produce annually.

 

They recently upped our production to 7,000 pounds harvested (in 2010). 90% of our vegetarian diet comes from the garden so they eat on almost $2.00 per day per person.  [ SEE: Harvest Chart &  6,000 lb Harvest Breakdown ]

 

The Dervaes family are living off the land “directly” — supplying our diet, and “indirectly” — they sell the excess harvest to local establishments and individuals through a customized CSA program via their Front Porch Farmstand.

 

Having found food security in our own backyard, the Dervaes family were emboldened to take further steps.  They began powering their home with alternative energies and fueling their car with home-brewed bio-diesel.

 

Along with new technologies, they also embraced the simple living of past generations: they keep farm animals for egg production and manure, cultivate honeybees, use secondhand goods to decrease their consumption of earth’s nonrenewable resources, and continually teach themselves a variety of back-to-basics skills through “re-skilling”.

 

The Dervaes family hoped that by documenting their personal experiences they could offer encouragement to those striving to live a simpler, more self-sufficient lifestyle and could help create a new model for urban living.

 

Since 2001, their blog “Little Homestead in the City,” shares the first-hand stories of the Dervaes' struggles and joys, defeats and successes of their homesteading journey.

 

The journey is ongoing— there are steps forward and often steps backward— But the apt focus to keep in mind is Longfellow’s wise words in his classic poem “A Psalm of Life” and that is: learn to labor.. and to wait.

 

Through triumphs and struggles, the Dervaes family are indeed blessed and extremely grateful for this “good life,” and, hope that they can inspire you by their efforts shared on this website to take small steps in your own life. Small steps that, collectively, will have a big and lasting impact.

 

The Dervaes' highly productive Urban Homestead project is now widely considered a successful one-of-a-kind model for sustainable agriculture and eco living in urban areas and has been featured in multiple news medias both nationally and internationally.

 

The Dervaes family home, the Urban Homestead, has been featured on thousands of blogs, dozens of tv appearances (Sundance, CBS News, ABC Nightline, Oprah and many more) and hundreds of print articles including, LA Times,  NY Times, Times of India,  Germany Faz –  just to name a few.

 

With the sudden loss of their father, Jules Dervaes Jr., in December 2016, the family has decided to continue building the homestead.  It’s their life and they love it.

 

Though there will be some changes, as there are every season with a farm, the Dervaes family is excited to begin the Urban Homestead Podcast.  They’ve had the idea for years, but hadn’t been able to move forward on it until now.  The podcast will help them share their ups and downs, tips and tricks, and stories from our homestead, and even some live entertainment from many people they’ve met over the years and many more they hope to have on the show.

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