Marking milestones along the path that we’ve taken: It’s been a long and winding path over decades with plenty of switchbacks, u-turns, and a fair share of steep and slippery slopes. We’ve stumbled and done a great deal of “face-planting” in the dirt. And, in fact, half the time, there’s been no path at all to follow.
Began searching for a meaningful and more natural, self-sufficient lifestyle; lived simply without air conditioning, clothes dryer; dishwasher; wanted to return to eating whole, non processed foods and natural medicines.
Homesteaded in New Zealand: Beekeeper, sold honey/successful honey business/hand-cranked honey extractor/drug-free bees; self-installed rainwater system for homestead water supply; planted fruit trees/vegetable garden; kept chickens, ducks and goats for eggs and milk/sold chicken eggs; hand chopped firewood for heat/hot water and cooking in woodstove; built honey shop solely by hand/no power tools; outdoor toilet; outdoor laundry room with copper basin and fireplace for heating water; wringer washer/outdoor clothesline; primarily vegetarian diet but occasionally butchered chickens/sheep for food; no phone or TV; cooked from scratch and purchased an old Morris “hand cranked” car; experimented with humanure composing.
Lived on 10 acres in Florida: hand –cleared palmettos for mobile home/out buildings, garden and play area; dug trenches for water pipes for well and septic tank opening/ self-installed electricity; beekeeper/bee supply and honey business/drug-free bees; planted huge vegetable garden; milked goat; various building and DIY projects; no air conditioning, no dishwasher, no clothes dryer/used outdoor clothesline; used alternative medicine; began home schooling children; in later years disconnected hot water heater; had a large worm composting bin; small nursery business.
First year in Pasadena house: furnished home with items brought from Florida and donated second hand items/stove and fridge from a church; kept 10 drug-free beehives and sold honey/hand-cranked extractor; composted; planted vegetable garden; heavily mulched backyard to improve soil; no air conditioning, no clothes dryer/used outdoor clothesline.
Became a conscious vegetarian after reading how hamburgers destroy the rain forest.
Edible landscaping and farming in the front yard; smothered front lawn under newspaper & mulch to kill the grass: planted wildflowers, vegetables and herbs.
First DIY cardboard solar oven made for cooking baked potatoes and cookies/experimental; recycled grey water from sinks and tub to water the garden to conserve water during water restrictions.
Started crafting business; lived without use of refrigerator on and off for several years; experiences in extreme simplicity. Exploring local mountains – several hiking and camping expeditions.
DerVaes Gardens started —home business of selling edible flowers and herbs grown in front and backyard to restaurants and caterers; alternative homegrown medicines use increases/herbal medicines preparation.
Increased use of food preservation and began eating with the seasons from the garden; worm composting; learned how to repair and fix bicycles for ourselves and the community.
DerVaes Gardens edible flowers sales scaled back and more heirloom “gourmet” vegetables planted instead. Learned, self taught survival skills and wild edible forging.
DIY Constructed a large plywood solar oven on wheels and began using the sun for cooking more of the meals and for hot water for dish washing.
Decided to take a proactive approach — do what we can, where we are with what we had. Living our protest 24/7 by homesteading full-time; recorded the amount of pounds harvested; made raised beds and self-watering containers; first media article written about the Urban Homestead project; used city rebates for energy efficient computers, vcr, and tv; installed energy efficient light bulbs; bought gas lamps and various hand-cranked/unplugged kitchen appliances; and decided to launch a website/blog to share our homesteading efforts with others.
Started raising chickens (5 hens) from day old chicks; rabbits (2); opened up the Urban Homestead to the public – first tour of the homestead with Compton High School students; used city rebate to purchase energy efficient refrigerator; built solar food dryer.
Self-installed 12 solar panels using city rebates; constructed solar-heated outdoor shower; installed solar tube light in garage; raised day old baby ducks (2); started replacing old appliances like refrigerator, etc; city rebate for energy efficient/water saver washing machine; James Washer hand operated washing machine
LA Permaculture Guild first Permaculture Certification Course/Class visits the Urban Homestead on field trip.
Constructed biodiesel processor to make fuel for diesel car; purchased a used 88′ Chevy diesel; hosted various “Self Sufficiency Series” workshops —soap-making, spinning, biodiesel making, hosted guest speakers; started using EM; learned to can and began preserving garden harvest.
Exhibited the Urban Homestead project at Fritz Haeg’s Garden LAb at Art Center College of Design.
Received City of Pasadena Outstanding Recycler Award for Preservation of Natural Resources through the Creation of an Urban Garden.
Constructed earthen (cob) outdoor, wood-fired oven; broke up and removed 30’x30’ concrete slab in backyard and reused it for hardscaping; wind blows off more shingles on roof; first installed clay pot irrigation; pedal powered grain mill. DerVaes Gardens received Greenopia’s Four Leaves award for green business.
Purchased two goats (miniature and dwarf); revamped solar shower; expanded animal enclosure; added more raised beds; more “small” improvements made to the overall urban homestead; installed Jotul wood stove for heat/free wood from local tree trimmer for burning; bike trailer; toilet lid sink for water conservation in bathroom; DIY arbors installed to take advantage of “upscale growing space”; pedal powered blender; online store of sustainable wares and useful tools opened, Urban Homestead Supply, after receiving many requests for items used on the homestead and to help fund outreach expenses.
Received City of Pasadena Outstanding Recycler Award for Sustainable Development Practices.
Dervaes Institute, established August 18, 2006, is an creation-care ministry and a California Corporation Sole under California Corporations Code Section 10000-10015 and is tax exempt under IRS Code § 508(c)(1)(A). On October 30, 2010, it submitted IRS form 1023 in order to receive its determination letter as a private foundation under IRS Code § 501(c)(3).
Installed eco friendly metal roof for future rainwater collection; raised and sold chickens and ducks for fellow LA backyard poultry enthusiasts; increased our backyard flockery with more chickens and ducks; installed solar attic fans (rebated by the City of Pasadena); replaced driveway with more “permeable” Hollywood strip driveway; captured ”wild/feral” bees swarm and started once again raising bees; purchased space saving rain barrels for rainwater harvesting project.
During this time, we were blessed to have the incredible opportunity to share our journey in person in various cities in the USA and also abroad. Our travels have taken us to
In our growing efforts to provide “food for the people, grown by the people.” The Front Porch Farmstand was seeded. Featuring foods from our small city farm in addition to local organic farms and food artisans.
CSA Farm Box. Partnering with local organic farms and food artisans we provide an easy and affordable way to eat more sustainable by reducing your “food print” with our customized farm box program.
Stay tuned for more!