“…You should always cast your eyes toward tomorrow. Sharpen your vision. Never be guided by the principle “everybody’s doing it…” Jules Dervaes Sr, (1913-1996)

Grandpa was a wise one with these words.  Thought his sentiments would be a fitting start to a new year.

While folks maybe writing down resolutions for a new year,  we are going to twist things around a bit and list our “hopesolutions”- goals, projects, we hope to get to in 2010.  God willing….

Keeping it Real

Of course, there are over-all goals here on the urban homestead: improve productivity, save more energy & water, whittle down the shopping list, etc., etc.

I could go on but, instead,  going to have a little fun!

Went around the urban homestead and asked the Pasadena Hillbillies “what do you hope to accomplish next year?

Jethro (Justin): Justin, kidder as he is, answered the question with a bit of sarcasm. I roll my eyes.  I tell him “No ,I’m serious, tell me what you are going to do next year….”

Answer (in one breath) : Going to start raising fish first in a small fish pond but have plans to build a large one that incorporates used water in the garden, fix/tune up the cars, take out the last bit of concrete (reuse the urbanite throughout the garden) increase our hives and, hopefully, have a good honey flow this year, try (once again) growing mushrooms – it’s easy the first time from a kit but to keep the reproducing for a continuous supply is tricky, get a solar water heater but that’s going to cost some money and such big green purchases will have to wait till we have some green (or unless a company would like to donate its product would be nice), work on a few home improvements that will help with our conservation efforts and that’s all I can think of right now.  There’s lots to do and keeping everything going and doing them well is a challenge and that’s what urban homesteading is all about – it’s not just about making biodiesel, growing a garden or having chickens it’s about doing everything well, or at least well enough to survive.

Elly May (Jordanne): Now off to Jordanne who’s hanging with the goats and watching Fairlight eat a big spoonful of peanut butter (funny sight!) Got milk?

Answer: That’s a tough question.  Don’t know if I can list everything.  The other day I was checking out a spinning wheel.  Still plugging away at improving all the sites (thanks for your support and patience – I’m trying my very best so just hang in there)  Really enjoyed homebrewing efforts and want to continue them with experiments in flavored meads, also like to get the cellar fixed up (so we can actually walk down there) and use it as a storage for our fermentation, brewing efforts.  I’d also like to make ginger beer – that’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for awhile.  I like fixing up things.  There’s also home storage/organizing improvements that I have in mind. Trying to find a place for everything and keep everything in its place – yeah, easier said than done with everyone and everything fighting for space.  Ummmm, what else?  I’m multi tasking here…  Oh, yeah, like to continue to see Amy, our duck, improve from her injury.  That was a learning experience for all of us natural holistic treatment.  And there’s writing to do.  I enjoy writing so I have stuff jotted down all over the place and need to put it together.

Jed (Jules) Catching him in between plantings and working on his presentation for the upcoming urban homesteading workshop at the Eco Farm Conference

Answer: Getting things organized (me: seems like that’s majority of the sentiment around here these days) so that we can expand, have people/volunteer to come in and take over some the duties.   I also would like to see the seed company and sites like Freedom Gardens grow up and mature (pay for themeselves)    Water is also going to be critical so I’d like to get back to working on my greywater system.   With an old house our plumbing is getting old, will need to be replaced soon and, like in the past with other home improvements, going to try to do that ourselves but need a block of uninterrupted time.

In the garden, continue to improve the soil using natural methods.  Improve production.   I believe every year one should take stock of the previous one and figure out what can be done better here on the urban homestead, in our outreach and individually as people. There’s always something to improve.

Granny (Anais): Oh, dear it’s my turn!  Right now I have a jumbled list that’s rolling around my brain like a mad pinball machine.  Here’s my note to self – like to be more organized, improve and be more efficient in my homemaking skills, step away from the computer and live life, talk less – listen more and “wear the skirt” (ok, only a few of you will understand what I just said – perhaps this will give you a clue) sew and knit my way through the mountains of fabric and yarn in my lifetime.

Like to continue to keep things real and honest here at LHITC as we walk a more sustainable path.  Not to mention I hope see the urban homesteading model expand with workshops, presentations or speaking engagements.   Have a power point and will travel (with expenses paid of course)

Oh, yes, and to sell 1000 Little Homestead in the City calendars~ time’s running out!  (Note: Jordanne informed me that the handful of calendars we’ve sold already will help cover the cost of a code that she needs to improve the journal. Thanks! )

Now readers, it’s YOUR TURN!  Care to share your HOPESOLUTIONS for 2010?

Also, I’d like to hear what your favorite posts were of 2009.

We know there’s a bunch of you readers who are out there — in fact, this blog got over 400,000 page views this year!

Come on, don’t be shy!

That way we know what ya’ll are hankering for.

Last, but not least…. don’t know how many times I’ve said this this week but…. thank you all again for your support and friendship.  This blog is here and, hopefully, will continue to be here because of our loyal and generous readers.


Ya’ll come back, ya hear!

Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat ! It’s plumb scary how the old hillbilly characters fit (did a few parodies in past posts here, here and even Treehugger TV got into the act)

Justin (Jethro) is big, strong and kind.  Jordanne, like Elly May, is a lover, caretaker of animals, bringing in all sorts of strays and hurt animals.  Jules, as the head of the clan, got the notion to start off on this journey,  Me, well, I am Granny who’s always brewing or whipping up vittles in the kitchen (not to mention I got a pair of “granny boots” to boot!).

Heck, we did feel like some dang hillbillies when we first moved to Pasadena from our 10 acre plot in the South.  Why?  Cuz we took our countrified ways along with us to the city and we sure did get a few stares.

Now, listen to Granny and get to a commentin’ about your “hopesolutions” and favorite posts of 2009.

Looking foward to sharing in 2010.


  1. Lisa Sirois says:

    Jason, Good luck on the Aquaponics,I just started it myself this last year,kelp helps but so far only my greens and tomatoes doing well(the Tilapia doing well also.) Jorddan I am looking into spinning wheels and looms myself right now(very pricey) if you find some good buys or plans for some please post them.I am on disability from my sons suicide and I am trying to follow your families path to save money and to help my recovery with my ties to earth and her animals.I have received a great amount of inspiration from your site. Thank you Lisa urban farmer

  2. Sarah says:

    I have some things that I have already been working on, and already making great changes! (http://8-muddyboots.blogspot.com/2009/12/my-changes-for-new-year.html)

    I am looking forward to a bigger garden, and trying to keep chickens out of the garden this year so I can put up AT LEAST 50% of the food we eat. We are getting a goat next week, that will be milked. We are going to be able to put up a LOT more food this year! It is a PRIORITY! Great to see your “hopesolutions”!

    Can’t wait to watch your family succeed at more this year! 🙂

  3. Breanne says:

    Wow! Looking at your resolu- … I mean, “hopesolutions”, I have to ask myself, “Can that family possibly do any MORE!?!?! They’re already doing so much!” But, that’s the best thing about self-improvement: there’s always room to grow!

    I just started a garden AND a garden blog this past year (inspired by the Dervaes family), and found out that yes, I actually DO have the ability to grow things without any prior experience, and in our clay soil of Indiana, to boot! Spurred on by those revelations, and reading a ton of gardening blogs, my “hopesolutions” are as follows:

    ~ Somehow get some lettuce to grow and thrive

    ~ Winter-sow some seeds

    ~ Start a lot of my plants from seed this year, instead of buying some shady-looking starts from the grocery store

    ~ Get at least 10% of my spring/summer diet from the garden

    ~ Plant a new type of vegetable/herb that I’ve never planted before

    ~ Encourage my neighbors not to give up on their garden like they did last year

    ~ Help others start their own gardens

    ~ Improve my canning skills (and can something besides salsa)

    ~ Put my new food dehydrator to good use!

    ~ Become more well-prepared to lead a more self-sufficient lifestyle

  4. Bob says:

    1.Learning sustainable organic gardening methods.
    2. Learn to harvest seeds and protect them .
    3. Create a market of some crops / plants that I grow for retirement income .
    4. Enjoy my work that is giving me exercise and helping my health.
    5. I am building a library of farming ,gardening, cooking, homesteading , Do It Yourself ,and repair books.I have started . This will be for my grand children whom I have none yet thus Hope part of the solution

    Enjoy your site and I am encouraged by the philosophy of doing what you can do and starting where you are.

  5. katecontinued says:

    Happy New Year. I am planning on putting in some infrastructure at my little home, 10 projects for 2010. Green roof, grey water, rainwater catchment, reed bed, gabion wall w/french drain, fruit vines, nut tree, vegetable beds, wormery built off kitchen wall – with chute connected to counter reservoir, etc. I really appreciate your using your urban homestead to demonstrate how living sustainably can work. I’d like to ultimately create a living lab of my little spot, that shows another version of steps people might take to live simply, frugally and with resilience.

  6. Douglas says:

    Thank you for the post, this gets me thinking about what to do this year.

    Living near the water keeps the soil fairly damp, and after a good shower the yard is somewhat flooded, learning about raised beds was a GOD send.

    Things for 2010:
    Soil-amendment education and practice (Vermicomposting, composting, terra-preta) I have commitments from a few places nearby that are willing to give me their used coffee grounds, worms should love chewing through it while making an excellent soil supplement and tea. Slugs are a problem here.

    Purchase some miniature trees and teach myself espalier techniques.

    Tear up more grass in the backyard and increase my raised bed count.

    Construct a small green-house. Purchase some soil blockers.

    Grow five-times more produce then I did last year.

    Build two small fence rows and gates.

    Level off the last one third of the backyard, get rid of the old metal shed.

    Clean out the 250-gallon fuel tank, install a low spigot, move it adjacent to the house and fill with kerosene.

    That’s it for now..


  7. Tracey says:

    Thank you for your post. I had a feeling what you were talking about with the ‘skirt’. I had to chuckle as I am wearing pants right now and getting ready to hop in my flatbed truck. I will try to be more feminine. I have the garden, chickens, wood stove that burns scraps. I’m on my way now to look at a loom. Love your posts.

  8. Rose says:

    Anais your blog is an inspiration and seeing you planning to do even more this year is more inspirational. We are wading into being more self-reliant. Last year we turned more of the garden over to vegies and acquired two chooks. From small things big things grow.

  9. Cynthia says:

    Like others, this blog has become an inspiration to take a look at what else I can do to green up my life, and provide me with a real example of what a family can do if they are dedicated to living a sustainable life. Thank you, Dervaes family!

    Plans for this year:
    1) Start up our homestead in earnest (having just moved to one!)
    2) Make my own ollas (I’m a potter).
    3) Expand my garden/greenhouse to extend the growing season of our northern climate!
    4) Learn more about canning this year.
    5) Continue to expand composting/mulching/recycling activities.
    7) Get to know local organic farmers – they are a treasure trove of knowledge!

    So many hopesolutions…so little time! Though after reflecting on this topic last night, my partner and I decided that time has to be made for what is meaningful and important to us…so here we go!

    Blessings for the New Year!

  10. Margy Porter says:

    Thank you so much for the inspirations!
    Notes: found a loom at Goodwill 🙂 wool from a small farmer for $20 and borrowed a spinning wheel 🙂 Maybe I’ll get back to using them?!

    1. Grow even more of our own food at home!
    2. Plant MORE edible landscaping… I love fruit trees.
    3. Teach more friends and community folks to grow/ save their own food- we formed a canning community last summer and it would be nice to see it grow.
    4. Continue to use less “stuff” and throw away much less.
    5. Welcome many new babies gently into this world (I am a Midwife).
    6. Love and support my family as they walk thru 2010!
    Blessings on your journey!

  11. Rebecca says:

    rely on seeds already collected, to plant in garden….
    taking my collection of oil lanterns and using them for actual light, instead of only to display…
    turning off all heat registers, except only two..
    putting in weatherstripping around doors and windows, to lower all heat bills….
    installing water collection barrels on downspouts…
    set up a worm bin, under kitchen sink…
    already found a viable place to sell cilantro, radishes and tomatillos…first time to grow it, this summer….
    triple raised beds to 9, instead of current 3 from this past year…
    collect cardboard for weed barrier, in first stage of planting…
    gather fabrics and yarns, out of closets, to be accessible for projects, to work on in evenings….
    plan occasional pot luck dinners, with fresh grown foods, with friends and family…
    try…(difficult to do) but try to incorporate more vegetarian recipes into daily cooking….
    share what I grow, with food bank and senior center….
    make homemade laundry and bath soaps…
    keep a journal of accomplishments and new ideas….
    find or even start a group for “homesteading” way of life
    use cold water in place of hot….
    get out the baking utensils and USE them…..
    make use of ‘gramma’s aprons~
    and, ok, start to ‘wear the skirt’…
    stay connected to this website…………….

  12. DAn says:

    I need to make my garden more inviting. I sure invited the birds and the bees but what about other people. How do I invite you to grow your own food? I am thinking about maybe putting on a barbecue with some music. Buy some beer and play dominoes and tell my friends about what ive been kinda secretly doing. I know they would really be surprised.

  13. kitsapFG says:

    My focus is on upping production from certain crops this year. I will be taking steps to increase yield from several crops that have been under performing to their potential. Changes in planting timing, spaciing, and changing up a few varieties are part of the approaches to be taken. I am also striving to get to more than 50% of our annual fruit needs this year. We are already at 100% of our veggie production but have real space limits which makes fruit expansion a bit of a challenge.

  14. Eloise says:

    Don & I hope to expand our garden into our lawn and plant corn, beans, sweet potatoes, potatoes. Our hens should start laying eggs in February (we live in Calif). We also plan to plant several semi-dwarf apple trees. Our very first winter garden (that we started very late) will produce onions, leeks, spinach, celery, sugar snap peas, turnips and sweet peas.
    I’m hoping to get good at baking my own bread, hopefully in the solar oven, but 2 attempts at bread in the sun oven has had poor results – good crust, but too soggy in the middle.
    Your homestead has been a humungus inspiration! Thanks!

  15. Carl says:

    Happy New Year Y’all

    I want to make my Garden thrive this year and have it make a larger than hobby dent in the food bill. In addition, I will be riding my bike as transportation more than ever, 6000 miles plus!

    To help with the Gardening goal, I would like to buy Freedom Seeds from you, is it possible to arrange a time to buy in person? I am in So Cal too. I would like to discuss what seeds are the best to plant in the winter and the next season. Please email me about that.

    Thank you,


  16. AROUND THE URBAN HOMESTEAD | Little Homestead in the City says:

    […] HOPESOLUTIONS | […]

  17. Mia says:

    I love the pictoral posts. Always helps me to see…
    Keep it coming. You all are inspiring.

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