Anais is the eldest daughter and of all the hats she wears on the homestead, the "chef" hat is her favorite. As an experienced cook of many years, Anais has learned through a hands-on approach what really works in the 21st century homestead kitchen. Having lived for all of her life as an aspiring modern-day Laura Ingalls of Little House on the Prairie fame, Anais truly knows how time consuming everyday kitchen tasks can be.
However, she has honed her kitchen skills to the point where she can prepare and preserve food with maximum efficiency, while running her kitchen smoothly on a daily basis.
Since 2001, Anais has chronicled the family's urban homesteading successes and failures on the blog, Little Homestead in the City. With input from all the family members, she has documented in words and photographs the daily struggles and triumphs of life on the homestead. Hundreds of thousands of readers have been inspired by the family's example and persistence in blazing a trail towards a new (yet old) way of life. Many of them have written to the Dervaes family, and answering e-mail messages was another of Anais's duties for a number of years.
Anais talks weekly with the DerVaes Gardens' restaurant and catering clients, taking their orders for fresh, organic produce and edible flowers. She has an active role in organizing many of activities and events hosted by the family and Path to Freedom. She uses the genetic trait of the Dervaes family to create colorful and whimsical display materials, online ads and PowerPoint presentations and has inherited her father's "ear" for clever turns of phrases.
Anais was born in New Zealand during her father's rural homesteading off-the-grid days. She immediately made a noticeable difference to the abandoned gold mining town of Stafford, located on New Zealand's west coast of the south island, by raising the total human population to 4 and making local history by becoming the youngest citizen of that town in 100 years. When her parents moved back to the U.S. and Florida, Anais thrived on the 10 acre homestead. She enjoyed planting a garden with her father, jumping from haybales, eating oranges from nearby groves and drinking raw goat's milk from Molly Jo, a pet. Weekdays were spent in homeschooling, exploring her world and cooking.
She considered it a privilege to have been a witness to and assistant in the homebirth of her 3 siblings during those happy years. Today, Anais attributes her good health to the natural way she and her siblings have grown up.
When Anais was given a camera by her grandmother at about age 11, she became the family photographer, snapping pictures of everything she saw, a hobby which continues to this day. Anais was enrolled in a private school where she skipped a grade and was an excellent student but soon returned to being homeschooled after one year. She became an avid fan of The Little House on the Prairie series, whose pioneer tales transformed Anais into a Laura Ingalls wannabe. Over the years, she has added many other homesteading skills: candle and soap-making; knitting; herbal remedies; sewing; crocheting; canning and food preservation; wine-making.
Anais is looking forward to a homesteading future, growing a garden, rearing children, having fruit trees, and sharing her life with a like-minded "pioneer" in the lifestyle she loves. Laura Ingalls would certainly be proud.