Some Bold Steps to Make Your Carbon Footprint Smaller

Help us help others. Spread the word about PathtoFreedom.com urban sustainability mission and the urban homesteading lifestyle (unforunately, NY Times failed to mention the website). Share this video with your all friends, family and anyone interested in making the world a better place to live. Together we can make a difference. The future is now, the choice is ours. Small steps do indeed, have big impact.

Watch 5 min Video LIFE (MOSTLY OFF THE GRID) by David Clair NY TIMES

URBAN FARMING: Jules Dervaes and three of his adult children live on one-fifth of an acre in Pasadena, Calif., a block away from a multilane highway. On this tiny sliver of land, they manage to be mostly self-sufficient. “This is our form of protest,” says Dervaes, who is 60, “and this is our form of survival.”

The family harvests 6,000 pounds and more than 350 separate varieties of fruits, vegetables and edible flowers annually. They brew the biodiesel fuel that powers the family car. Solar panels on their roof reduce energy bills to as little as $12 a month. Goats, chickens, ducks and two rescued cats are in residence. Red wiggler worms turn the kitchen and garden waste into compost, which is then recycled back into the garden.

Dervaes’s father worked for Standard Oil, but his son took a markedly different path. Dervaes moved into his current Pasadena home in 1985 — temporarily, he thought. As the years passed and his hopes of relocating to the country were delayed, he “decided that he wanted to see how much we could grow here,” says his 33-year-old daughter, Anais.

The family generates cash for their limited expenses by selling produce to local restaurants. Though Dervaes and his children are accustomed to the neighbors’ strange looks at their crowded lot, the local chefs don’t seem to share the skepticism. “They’ll call me in the morning and pick the amount that I need for that night,” says Jim McCardy, who owns Marstons, a restaurant in Pasadena. “The flavor is just incredible.”


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  1. Wendy says:

    Hi all you guys. I loved the video and your back yard looks really full and I am envious. I am just starting my hot weather plant seeds indoors now here in Nova Scotia but am now planting cool weather veggies.
    I was wondering if you could tell me the size of your raised beds? Everything looks so neat and tidy. I am going to be raising my potatoes vertically in 2 foot by 2 foot by 30 inches high boxes. We too are limited for space and I’m always looking for better ways to garden.
    We are having a very nice warm spring here and I’m itching to get started with my gardens. Hope you guys are all doing well and keep up the good work. I just love your site and keep rereading it and looking at your pictures of your gardens for inspiration. Well anyway, Take care.

  2. Robbyn says:

    Congratulations, Dervaeses! SEEING that it can be done is the first step for many people wondering where to go from here, as our changing society demands that we make choices to take back control of our…choices 🙂

  3. Jeannine from Pittsburgh says:

    Congratulations on the NY Times spot! I’ve been following your inspirational web site for a couple of years now. Truly amazing! If everyone did just a fraction of what you are doing there would be a real change.

  4. Becky L. says:

    Awesome! So good to see you get the press and exposure that you deserve. Thanks again for being
    an inspiration and model for us urban homesteaders!

    p.s. The ducks are growing like weeds!

  5. Judy says:

    Great and inspiring video! The garden is so beautiful.

  6. Gerry Medland says:

    Hi Folks,
    The video is superb!!!!!Who needs an alarm clock? this is the best wake up call for years and years!Tremendous message for all to see,how many will realise that change begins now with your outstanding daily example!
    gerry m

  7. Russell says:

    Really nice to see this video. I remember rumors about you years ago. The next generation is really not so much about consumption, you might be pleased to know. Do you milk the goats?

  8. Jennifer says:

    I loved the video. It really put it into context for me. I have added a link to the video on my blog, and also a link to your journal. Keep up the great work!! 😀

  9. Kristie R says:

    Hey guys! That’s one of my top five favorite videos so far!
    A while back someone wrote in about convincing their city council to legalize goats. I can’t seem to find the post, so I was hoping you could offer more advice or send me a link to the post.
    We are on a full acre in a very small town and my son is allergic to dairy, so we’d like to have goats. Currently any “farm animal” is illegal in town. Can you offer any advice on how to go about changing that?
    Thanks so much for any advice you can offer, and for being such fantastic pioneers!

  10. rachel says:

    Thanks so much for this site and the outreach you do. We just got a little backyard in Brooklyn a few months ago, and now that spring is here I’m trying my hand at gardening–also baking my own bread and thinking of what else I can do–all due to your positive influence. Thanks again.

  11. todd says:

    Great video article. One of the few times I have read the NYT. thanks for the ideas.

  12. Ken Kunst says:

    Nice to see a well done video from NY Times…I’m happy they showed you all in your daily work mode, and the interviews with each were short, but got the essential messages and images out there. Thanks again for your inspiring way of Life.

  13. Anais says:

    Thanks everyone for the comments and for passing around the video piece !

    A warm welcome to new readers, thanks for sharing your urban sustainability and garden projects. Great to hear from like minded folks who are on the same path.

    Small steps do indeed have big impact – together we can make the world a better place.

  14. Ginny says:

    To Jordanne: I care that you lost half your crop to the frost! I understand… My husband and I were looking out over our little homestead and I suddenly saw that we were a little homestead stuck between several “golf course” lawns with “no clue” households. The rules are changing so fast, we feel a little pressured to get as much done as we can, so we can be “grandfathered in”.

    Keep up the good work! It is not for naught.

    In Christ,


  15. Steven says:

    Congratulations guys, !!

    You are really amazing, you just got inspired to start growing my own vegan food !!

    Kind Regards from Costa Rica

  16. Sandra says:

    Great video! Thanks for the inspiration. I’m in the process of digging up more of my small backyard garden and learning as I go.

  17. carol says:

    Great piece for our west coast neighbors. I live in Ohio in an fairly rural area with Amish and Mennonites. I remember when I lived in the suburbs I hung my laundry out and had many gardens..my neighbors looked at me like I was a freak. There is nothing like living well below your means and whatever society thinks in the long run they will rely on you for answers. I can afford to be a single parent with a 1 acre farm by bartering, trading and living frugally. I only have had rebuilt computers,(or throw aways). My designer daughter won an international fashion show with her portfolio that was produced from Thrift shop and resale fabrics..:)
    I would love to trade tips or chat with like minds.

    • Donalyn Leskosek says:

      from Pittsburgh area, love canning, dehydrating, herbal remedies, etc. would love to converse and exchange ideas.

  18. Ann Duncan says:

    LOVE what you have done and are doing! SO, SO inspiring! Will do my best to let LOTS of people know about it.

    Blessings on your path to freedom,


  19. DonnePerth says:

    This is the way of the future and an answer to the economic meltdown. Every new homestead is an example to others. Great to see!!!!
    Grow your own food, live in harmony with nature and your neighbours. Swap food and seeds and forget the rat race. More power to the earthworms…..far more useful than politicians!

    There is a ‘no dig’ method. Place newspapers and cardboard directly on ground, (or concrete), cover with straw, compost, add worms and plant.

    The ‘Permaculture’ manuals of Bill Mollison are also a good start.

    Western Australia

  20. Dene Brock says:

    How wonderful! I love how you show that anyone can live the good life even in a neighborhood setting.

    I have a blog that talks about country and self-sufficient living. I’d love to put a link on my site to yours as an example of how it truly can be done – and done WELL!

    Thanks for your wonderful website. I look forward to reading more of your entries.

    Dene Brock

  21. Theresa Anderson says:

    Well, let me say…we marked off a 28 X40 garden area today and we are gonna grow! Not just plants either. I have yet to see anyone in my short life not be changed for the better for their contact with the earth. I have four children. Their degree of tenderness, kindness and caring thoughtfulness seems to be in exact proportion to their connection with the outdoors. It’s funny how that works. I have said that if you want a spiritual experience get on your knees and hands and look at a patch of grass…if you are in tune enough to do that for a spiritual drink..you will not get up the same person if you stay there long enough with your eyes and heart open. Prodigal Nature…it is breaking out all around us with blessing and excitement and intrigue. I am inspired! Thank you, thank you , thank you!
    Have a wonderful Shabbat/Sabbath…

  22. Lisa Burbank says:

    Hello, All!
    I read about you in Mother Earth News; loved the article.
    I have a question: How on earth did you get a suburban Town/City Hall to okay raising even small livestock on a city lot…or even on 1/5 of an acre? I have an acre of land in Northeastern CT. The town I live in is rural but the strip of Rte 6 that my house sits on is the “restricted business” district. My doctor, who is very much behind a back-to-basics, holistic approach to health, even wrote a note stating he wants me drinking goats’ milk instead of cows and is recommending I raise it myself due to all the additives in commercial dairy products and I’m still fighting an uphill battle. I would be very interested how you obtained the rights to raise them. Not only for dairy, but I also hand-spin fiber (spinning wheel) and there are many smaller varieties of goats and also sheep that would live quite well on my 1 acre of land–if I can ever convince the local gov’t to allow them–and they, in turn, would provide a sustainable living for me in the sale of hand-spun fibers.
    PS I also love the raised beds and container gardens. I started off very small last year with some containers. I’m an herbalist so I grew some herbs (mostly culinary), tomatoes & peppers and was really impressed with the yield I got in returned. Thanks for a wonderful article and website–and plenty of ideas to keep me going!

    Thank you,
    Lisa Burbank

  23. Civis says:

    I read the article about you in MOTHER EARTH NEWS. It was inspiring (actually I read it three times). I’ve been conflicted about whether to move out of town, but I like being able to walk to work and I like being around people, so I started urban homesteading this year. I see I’m not alone.


    […] this picture and site before, but I love to repeat it because it might inspire someone new: http://urbanhomestead.org/journal/2008/04/19/ny-times-the-green-issue/<br /> 0 Replies   GA_googleFillSlot(“a2kTopicLeaderboardEnd”); […]

  25. Jose says:

    I saw your page and what u do its asome . i will like to know if we can volunter at your garden .. we are a couple with a 3 year old and love what u guys do . We live in SF Bay Area and planing to visit south in few months . contact me ..thanks … Jose and Family ….

  26. Tracey Tiret says:

    I love the “Freedom Garden” concept over the “Victory Garden.” True freedom depends on food security and real health. Every step we take is so important, and I’ve so much gratitude for the Derves. I’ve learned a ton from PTF and feel glad to be part of this supportive urban homesteaders network. Living more conservation minded no longer feels like we’re taking one for the team; We are all the team.

  27. Energias renovables a peque says:

    […] cifras del jard

  28. A Growing Trend in Eco-Consciousness: Using Backyards to Grow Food « Eco•Conscious – Conciencia ecológica says:

    […] local man who has turned urban gardening into an art form and a business is Jules Dervaes. Urban gardening expert Jules Dervaes. (Photo credit: […]

  29. Michael says:

    Hey I love how yall have done this youv inspired me to give it a shot and try to get a nice garden going. I posted about you on my blog so I can try and show other people that they can do it too and that its very possible

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