“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

Over a decade ago we turned our hobby garden into a more serious growing effort.  As we converted the 1/10 plot – maximizing the four corners of our little world, we wondered how much food could our little lot produce (See Chart).  The first year’s results astounded us – over a ton!  Was this a fluke or could urban agriculture change the way we think about growing food in the city?

Recently I’ve noticed (a printed article and message board) people are now doubting our “unsubstantiated” claims of 3 tons (6,000 lbs) harvested from 1/10 acre.   It’s “impossible” they write,  “can’t be done.”

Oh, really?

I wonder why the doubts and accusations are now surfacing?  Is it that people are starting to realize how hard it is to operate a city farm year after year after year — and that results just don’t happen overnight?

In fact,  it does seem that the “grow your own” trend is now on the decline.

A recent article claimed that growing your own food “was a waste of time and money.”    Well, sure if you paid someone (as this person did) to put in an ‘instant’ garden at a couple hundred bucks (or more) a raised bed plus obscene consulting fees.   The author also lamented about how all of their precious free time  was spent tending the garden.   Another article reported that after record sales, garden supply and seed sales are declining because “{people} realized that growing your own food is hard work.”  Hard work, indeed. As the old saying goes “You get out of it what you put into it.

What I am proud of is the fact that not only  is our plot of earth blessing us with 6,000 lbs.,  but also the fact that it’s not a fluke, eco 1 year stunt or part of a trend that can change just as fast as today’s fashions or hit songs.    Over the last 7 years we’ve harvested upwards and over 6,000 lbs – organically without synthetic fertilizers.  Of course, we can’t take credit for the bountiful blessings.  However, we work with with the hand we’ve been dealt,  but not without a lot of hard work, sweat and quite often tears.   There are droughts, heat, cold, freezes, bugs, disease and sometimes crop failures.  But we manage to overcome and persevere through many obstacles, though, sometimes, it’s quite tempting to want to throw in the trowel!

I feel that, after a brief growth spurt, urban agriculture and urban homesteading are now going the way of the back to the land movement.  Folks jumped on bandwagon but found it too hard and difficult and many migrated back to the cities.  So, I guess now we are at the point where the trendsters are being separated from those who are seriously called to the land.

Let’s hear from the real farmers, homesteaders out there, raise your hand/ trowels if you are digging in for the long haul!

Now for last month’s harvest total….

Unfortunately, this year’s pomegranate harvest is rather pathetic.  The last couple of years our 2 little trees gave us ~70 lbs and this year we would be lucky to get 5 lbs!    So even with that harvest disappointment we are nearing our 6,000 lbs mark.

October Harvest Totals

388 lbs Produce
6 Duck Eggs (molting season)
24 Chicken Eggs (molting season)


5,904 lbs Produce
131 lbs Honey
293 Duck Eggs
706 Chicken Eggs

What good things are coming out of your farm and garden?


  1. Loretta says:

    OHHHHH….I so believe the 6000#’s. It never even occurred to us to grow tomatoes or any other “Spring-Summer” veggie in the fall. we left our tomatoe plants that the heat of the summer didn’t kill, they started to blossom. We planted more green beans in early September (we lost most of our summer green beans in a freezer that bit the dust. Our roma’s produced more tomatoes in the fall than in the summer, I have canned 28 pints of green beans in the past month and yesterday on November 1st, I picked at least 4 more pints of green beans. It is starting to cool off here in Georgia, so not sure what more we will harvest. We didn’t keep a tally this year of the harvest, but we were certainly blessed with a pantry shelf full of wonderful summer flavors for this winter. Not to mention all that we have already consumed and our grocery bill is at least half.

  2. Nebraska Dave says:

    Yes, gardening or backyard farming involves work. In my humble opinion, doing the work alone leads to dismal failures. I am seeing thriving community gardens through out my city. The backyard gardens are not so much in fashion. The last years in Nebraska as my raised organic raised beds grew an over abundance of tomatoes, green peppers, potatoes, onions, and cucumbers, the garden plots in the neighborhood were ravaged by bugs, disease, and critters. Folks are amazed at the produce that comes from my small garden plots. It actually is amazing to me as well because up until a couple years ago I was a black thumb plant grower. I’be discovered that gardening is more of a life style than a cost saving event. Gardens need daily attention which most urban folks quickly tire of doing. Weeds, weather, and critters are relentless in there determination to cause crop failure. Over all this has been a good garden year for me. Next year will be even better.

    • Jogesh Yogi says:

      @Nebraska Dave, Since when eating well has to be in fashion to be practiced? I think backyard gardens where allowed should be fostered because not only it provides the food for the family but also provides nourishment to the mind and soul as well. Community gardens are great for the produce but they are inconvenient and they do not provide the view from the convenient of your own home. Besides grassy lawns are a huge waste of resources at the cost of land and environment.

      • Nebraska Dave says:

        @Jogesh Yogi,

        I agree totally that backyard gardens should be fostered and I also agree that grass is a total waste of space. I am in progress of expanding the garden spaces and building a water feature that will not only water the garden but have a fountain and be a home for fish. In a couple years I want to have rain barrel water integrated into my water feature.

        This winter my project will be to build a basement food storage area. It will be in an area that will be cool. Hopefully it will be and even 40 to 50 degrees.

        • Jogesh Yogi says:

          @Nebraska Dave, Awesome! I intend to also harvest the rainwater to some extent in near future.

  3. Tami says:

    I for one am very impressed with your beautiful garden and very much inspired to turn my little apartment patio area into a container garden! The idea of my own fresh organic produce thrills me, can’t wait!

  4. Dog Island Farm says:

    I have to vent here. I just finished reading My Empire of Dirt last night (nasty review of the book will be popping up tomorrow on my blog) and he seems to have the same idea that it’s a waste of time and energy and cannot be done. Well, yeah, it can’t be done if you jump into it not doing any research or even having any common sense (like bringing home livestock before building a place to keep them – which he did not just once, but multiple times) regardless of how much money you spent (he spent well over $11,000 on his 800sf “farm”).

    I admit I have total harvest envy. But then I have to remind myself that our trees have only been in the ground for a year and a half (as has our veggie beds) and are nowhere near mature (most are not mature enough to have fruited this year). We’re still learning the ins and outs of our property. I’ll be happy with over a ton of produce, which we might come close to this year (we stand at just over 1,000lbs but haven’t weighed our huge squash harvest yet). I hope to build upon that though.

    • nancy says:

      @Dog Island Farm,
      I read “My Empire of Dirt” a few weeks ago. I found it interesting on some level, but in no way inspiring. Have you read “Farm City” by Novella Carpenter? I loved that one. I wish there were more books like that out there. Nancy

      • Dog Island Farm says:

        @nancy, I really liked Farm City. It was definitely more optimistic than My Empire of Dirt. Plus she didn’t resort to animal cruelty and truly respected her animals, something Manny Howard didn’t do.

      • Dog Island Farm says:

        @nancy, I really liked Farm City. She was much more optimistic and also treated her animals humanely and respectfully, unlike Manny Howard who resorted to animal cruelty too many times to make me think he had any respect for animals.

        • nancy says:

          @Dog Island Farm,
          Yes, I had a really hard time with that. I don’t eat animals, but I respected the way Novella handled hers. They had a good life while they were here and didn’t suffer a terrible death (at least not intentiionally).

        • Rosa says:

          @Dog Island Farm,
          Have you guys read “animal, mineral, vegetable, miracle”? By Barbara Kingsolver?

          It’s not a how to really but her account of what she and her family did…..I really enjoyed that book.

        • nancy says:

          @Dog Island FI arm,
          Barbara Kingsolver is one of my all-time favorite writers. Animal, Mineral, Miracle is incredible. I love her other books too. One of my favorites is Prodical Summer.

        • Dog Island Farm says:

          @Dog Island Farm, My husband just finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle this past weekend so I’m reading it next. I look forward to it.

        • Phoebesmum says:

          @Dog Island Farm, I LOVE Animal, Vegetable, Miracle!! It is broken into chapters that are by the month and each month I try to read the following month’s chapter–I get a LOT of tips from her just from doing that!

      • Eloise Martindale says:

        @nancy, Animal Veg Miracle was great and Noella Carpenter’s Farm City too. I also liked Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes, wow what a radical book — loved it. Omnivor’s Delema by Michael Pollan was so informative and very well written. Hard to put it down. Currently I’m reading and enjoying Gardening When It Counts by Steve Solomon. He has a unique perspective and has some great tips that I’ve never seen before. Practical and interesting reading.

        • Anais says:

          @Eloise Martindale: Guess I have to fess up and admit that I haven’t read any of them.

  5. Laura Bradford says:

    Some are led to action because it is the right thing to do. Others are led to action because it is the profitable thing to do. If a course of action is right and profitable, many heed the call. If the course is only righteous, few heed the call.

  6. Cynthia in Denver says:

    If the article’s author believes gardening is a “waste of free time,” then it is his perspective he needs to tend and harvest. Did he think all he had to do is play Johnny Appleseed, toss the seeds on the earth and a bounty would spring forth? That article was written by a sloth. A lazy sloth. Someone who doesn’t do their homework before taking up a project. He’s a person who wants others to do the work, but he will take the credit. That person believes you can just throw money at a problem to make it go away.

    In my very first gardening experience ever, I was bringing in 300 Roma tomatoes a week, and 40 zucchinis a week. (Yeah. My neighbors ran away from me). This abundance was grown in a 4×6 area each.

    • Loretta says:

      @Cynthia in Denver, i would have love to have been your neighbor…Roma’s make such wonderful sauce. LOL

  7. Lisa says:

    It hasn’t died down here! And as for the numbers, I have no doubts.

    My first garden was when I lived in San Juan Capistrano, Ca. Temperate climate. Very small postage stamp sized back yard.

    Not knowing what I was doing I read and read and came up with square foot gardening as my method. When I told people what I did, they told me that I wouldn’t grow enough to share a salad. Every seed I put in the ground seemed to sprout, grow and produce. I have salad greens, nasturtiums, tomatoes, squash, watermelon, cantaloupe, berries… I can’t even remember all. People were amazed! (So I was but only a little because I didn’t know I “could’t do it”.)

    One year I got into seed swapping on the internet. Tomatoes was my focus. I had 108 different varieties of tomato planted. Mostly heirloom. Not realizing that everything would twine together, I never really found out which I liked the best. It was hard to tell which plant the tomatoes I picked came from. Every week I would take tubs of tomatoes to work to give away. (I hadn’t learned to can anything yet) Neighbors got tomatoes, some rotted because I couldn’t pick them fast enough – it was a very fun and rewarding experience!

    And because of the soil and climate, I was able to garden year round, not just for a season like many across the land.

    Now I live in Lake Elsinore. The climate is much different – it’s gotten to about 116 – 118 in the summer for the last couple of years. The ground is clay – my yields are far from satisfying. But I keep composting, keep amending the soil. Gone to raised beds (but the ducks and chickens I now have peck at things)… I’ll get there. I have a much bigger back yard than I did in San Juan Capistrano. So it goes to reason that I have a much better chance, once I figure out the heat. And I know that when I do, my back yard yields will be close to yours… (Because I still don’t know that I “can’t do it”.)

    I believe because I’ve seen what a novice like me can do – you’ve been at this for years. Ignore them, they’re just jealous.

  8. Lori says:

    Hi Anais,
    Well, our family believes you.

    I wonder how many of the doubting posts may be disinformation? I know that shortly after I posted my comments this past summer about GMO corn putting me in the hospital with a swollen esophagus, I received a spam email with attached virus that was detected and stopped by my ISP. The only comment in the spam message was “Bt” (bacteria thurengiensis). Makes one wonder who might find your website threatening.

    Keep up the revolutionary work!


  9. Rhonda says:

    Oh, the naysayers … they’re always out there, aren’t they? Getting successful with your garden takes time. People who think they can just plug some plants into the ground and do nothing else while expecting a miraculous harvest are fooling themselves. You need to treat a garden like your kids. You’re always out there making sure they’re fed well, and they’re being trained to grow the proper way, etc. You can be an ant or a grasshopper — I chose to be the ant.

  10. Joy Giles says:

    Those who are truly dedicated to action, stay with it. In tough times it seems many jump on the bandwagon. As times ease, they are off and back to their old ways. I’ve never found gardening a waste of time. It’s wonderful exercise and a great investment — one piece of a seed potato producing many potatoes, one pea/ green bean seed producing many. How can this not be cost effective. The naysayers are more than likely those that find a “good” use of time is fondling their phones or watching inane tv. Keep up the great work —- your family is an inspiration to all of us who have kept the “grow your own” movement alive for decades.
    May peace be with you.

  11. Diane says:

    Well, not to go all biblical here, but it’s a lot like in Luke 8:5, where 4 types of seed were sown but only one really took root and flourished. Perhaps it’s that way with working the land as well in these times — but if only one in four continues to do it and loves it, then that’s better than none! Slow progress, over time, does make a difference. As for your tonnage, your figures are totally realistic. You’ve absolutely maximized your growing space in a way few others have been able to do. If I can grow 30 pounds of carrots in a 4 ft by 6 foot raised bed, why would you not be able to do much more with many times that space?

  12. Jane says:

    I have managed to grow our own food year round in zone 5. I was told that was also impossible.

  13. Chris says:

    Hi Dervaes Family ~ I cannot believe anyone is challenging your 6000# harvest total. Are they blind? Just looking at the layout of your gardens, the vertical plantings, the square inch gardening, etc. gives credence to your bountiful harvests. Additionally, the painstaking attention you give to “growing soil” is a key component to your success. When I attended the summer Northeast Organic Farming Association Conference, the workshops about extending the growing season, building an attached passive solar greenhouse, homesteading permaculture, etc. were packed to the gills. Some workshops we couldn’t even get into. While there may be naysayers out there, it’s their loss (in the reward of growing and eating nutrient-dense organic food, tending to the soil food web on their own properties thus reducing their carbon footprint, giving back to Mother Earth, sharing with family and friends). Funny how everyone has time for Facebook, Twitter, surfing the net, WII (whatever that gizmo is), but no time to invest in their home(stead). I’m still in the toddler homesteading stages, setting up my systems and making mistakes left and right, marveling at Mother Nature and her sense of humor. I cannot imagine NOT trying to continue to Grow Organic and Grow Soil. What’s the alternative? I shudder to think! Keep up the fantastic work of “being the example”. Sending all blessings your way!

  14. 1916home.net says:

    Keep your heads up! You are a beacon of light in this GMO, gov & corp controlled society pushing GMO products down our throats. You guys are one of the last lines of defense! If the USA were to collapse (and Soviets NEVER thought they would collapse) the strong people like Dervaes family will be the survivors. During the Great Depression, 90% of people grew there own food at home and people still had problems feeding themselves! Imagine a modern time great depression scenario (and 60 Minutes is calling it a Great Recession now), and only 5% grow at home now, compared to the 1930s. We are in for a big hurt if the country collapses. Or if China stops trade. Or if NAFTA or CAFTA get shut down stopping south american produce. On and on. Countless scenarios and possibilities. I dont want to be a person in the food lines. I want to grow my own as the Dervaes and be self sufficient!

    The Dervaes Family *IS* literally a path to freedom. If you havent yet done so, its time to start your own “freedom” garden.

  15. nancy says:

    It has not, nor will it ever die down with me. I didn’t even know it was a movement until I started doing research on how to grow things here in hot and humid Florida. I can say I have many reasons to be discouraged. The early fall garden I looked forward to all summer sucumbed to nematodes. I don’t even want to think of the time and money I’ve put into it. But I love what I’m doing, and I consider it all a learning experience.

    I’m now converting more to self-watering container gardening. My goal is still to grow as much of my own food (vegetarian diet) as possible. I’ve also finally found a local organic co-op with the same goals as me.

    Also, I’ve changed in so many ways since I started reading the LHITC website. I’m committed. I want to and will be a good steward of my earth. I have grandchildren. I want them to learn this from me. Nancy

    • Kim says:

      Nancy said it for me! We had a cold gray rainy summer here in Washington for my second gardening year, so my newly acquired gardening skills were no match to lack of sun and bounty of slugs. Tiny harvest (but lessons learned). Still, I’ve got children watching and yes, in it for the long haul.

  16. Debbie in Alabama says:

    It’s the “instant gratification” culture we live in today! They all want it now and are not willing to work over the long haul. Just this morning , I harvested close to 50 lbs. of sweet potatoes from a 4 x 8 bed that also produced 76 lbs of tomatoes (Brandywine) and 33 lbs of eggplant. This was down from the previous year because of our very hot, dry summer. The record heat and no rain really affected my total harvest for the year, but my pantry shelves and my freezer are full of organic homegrown produce. My garden is still fairly “young”, but it grows each year as the soil is improved with the chicken manure and compost I “farm.” My girls are also moulting. Lots of feathers everywhere! They are getting a much deserved rest as they have produced and produced some more. Times will get hard again and it will be up to the “believers” to continue to educate. Give a man a fish and it will feed him for a day, but teach him to fish and it will feed him a lifetime! Keep up the good work!!!

  17. Debbie says:

    The trend to grow your own may be ending for some but not for me. I added another garden this year and plan to add another next year. More of my gardens are being converted to edibles as I aquire more skill and improve the quality of the soil. It’s an ever evolving process.

    I don’t see an end to my wanting to grow more of my own food. I may never get to your level, but I don’t intend to stop. Your example has given me a focus. Please continue to post pics. It’s what keeps me going.

  18. John says:

    Don’t let the naysayers get you down, you’re an inspiration and source of motivation for me and our aspiring homestead. Keep up your incredible work!

  19. Kirsten says:

    I know your harvests results are achievable. We started a community garden at my work to raise harvests for local food banks. We companion planted a 5’x6′ section and harvested 72lbs of beets and 26lbs of peas (with another planting of beets that may or may not yeild). We are in the PacNW and are just learning how to utilize the space and climate we have to yeild more harvests. Clearly, the writer of that article is uninformed and did not do his/her research.

  20. Paul Gardener says:

    You know me, and you know I believe your harvests. I don’t chime in often here, but I read you always. Your family and your accomplishments inspired me from the very beginning. You helped me to see that there was a different route than the one I was on and showed me all that was possible on my own little piece of earth.
    I know there are those that dip their toe in this pool of hard work for reward and find it to be too much for them, often I think their dislikes come from trying to do too much in a short time. Our culture has trained us that we can have whatever we desire at the time we desire it, with nature that is not the case. I do think, based on my own experiences that there are a great number of people that have started slowly and are ever learning that may just stick with it.
    I count myself proud to stand with you on this one!
    Paul Gardener~

  21. Jonathan says:

    What get’s me about the nay-sayers is that they simply haven’t done their research or put the work in to understand what is truly possible. If one references, for example, the television program ‘The Victorian Kitchen Garden,’ one would learn that the Victorians, to keep their food-production running, added 100 tons of manure per acre per year, or a layer 1 foot thick! Guess what…they grew a tremendous amount of food an a small space…and they didn’t even fully understand what we do today about vertical growing etc. If one would reference, for example, the bibliographic materials that Eliot Coleman has exhaustively research, one would learn that the 1600’s to 1800’s Parisian French produced esssentially all of their fruits and veggies on micro urban farms within the city limits of Paris because they intensively used intercropping! The Chinese, the Taiwanese, the Indians, the Vietnamese are still doing this. Yes…it can be done!

    Now, we understand vertical growing, more about crop rotations, intercropping, etc. I am not at all surprised that you all can grow 6000lbs per year. The one caveat that you might consider adding is exactly how that 6000lbs breaks down. For instance, tomatoes and squaches are heavier than lettuces and greens by volume. If this is where you are getting your high harvest numbers from…fine…but perhaps that explanation may sinence the naysayers.

    As a little extra piece of info, both the Victorians and the French before them learned, by happenstance, that one farmer can manage a max of about 1/4 acre of land with intensive growing. Technology has allowed farmers to reduce the number of hours that they work (from 16 per day, 6 days a week in the 1700’s) in order to increase their standard of living but still – 1/4 acre is about the standard. Since 4 of you manage just 1/10 of an acre, it’s really no wonder that you are able to squeeze out every possible bit of production!

    • Paul Gardener says:

      Great points Jonathan! I couldn’t agree more. It’s all through our history as humans that we’ve been able to produce highly productive crops in small spaces. The difference was that in the past, we HAD to do it… if you wanted to eat that is.
      I do believe we will be in that place again. Not doomsaying, just reality, they’re not making more land you know, more people means more food needed. We’ll have to utilize all resources we have to the max at some point.
      Thanks for adding that to the discussion!

      • Anais says:

        @Paul Gardener: I agree. It’s all about HAVING to. These days we have so many lifelines.

  22. Tamlynn says:

    I have no problem believing your numbers. With a year-round growing season, mature trees, and the layout, it seems quite reasonable to get that much produce. One mature orange tree can produce 100-200 lbs. of oranges every year.

    My yard is half the size of yours. I also have 6 fruit trees and several berries that are too young to bear, but hopefully will soon. We are in this for the long haul.

    October 2010:
    82 lbs. of fresh fruits and veggies
    45 eggs

    Since June 1, 2010:
    339 lbs. of fresh fruits and veggies
    226 eggs

    We have a 1/10th acre lot, and a 20×20 foot community garden plot. Most of this month’s produce was winter squashes; pumpkins and butternuts.

    Lots of pumpkin recipes on my blog this week!

  23. Jace says:

    What you guys are doing got me back into gardening. Thank you for being brave enough to live like you do. I’m on my way. 😀

  24. V Schoenwald says:

    Let them doubt until the cows come home…..NOT!
    If you are serious about growing, whatever your little corner of the world will produce, then do it. Yes, it is hard work, and on top, try it when you are dealt with a disability, and no help! I do it because I HAVE to, to eat. I am not sucking at the government tit and I wouldn’t do it anyway.
    The back to the land movement is in gear but this is where we seperate the wussy’s want-a-be’s from the serious substainable or urban/suburban folks who do.
    My answer to these message boards are: go find another blog/message board to haunt, leave us who support the others here alone. If you want, go give grief to some other message board/blog that will give you a shoulder to cry on, WAH! WAH! Leave Path to Freedom alone, as well as the others who come here to share knowledge and advice and friendship. The fact is you are jealous because you don’t have the backbone to do the work or keep the faith.
    I assure you that I as well as any of us here could make it in the real world if there was a total collapes of the economic system, I will match my skills as well as my fellow folks here who read PTF blog and the site. And if and when that happens, I assure you I will not give you a hand or a trowel or dirt or food…Baby, you are on your own.

  25. Jogesh Yogi says:

    Hello Anais, I firmly believe that naysayers should be rebutted by our brains and ignored by our hearts, which is what your blog does so very well. Matter-sold-minds will hardly find gardening to be uplifting and joyful. Their minds mostly rest on dollars and cents. The author you are referring to was complaining about gardening taking up too much of his free time. What I do not understand is why such a person would take up gardening in the first place? He/she should go back to the television and cram the head with meaningless fleeting information instead until realization hits that he is being deceived again and again in his pursuit of happiness.

    In any case, I have a 116 sf garden. The following are the quanties of harvest scaled for an equivalent 1/5 acre garden for the comparison purpose:

    Tomatoes ~ 1875 lbs
    Egg plants ~ 750 lbs
    Greens ~ 1125 lbs
    Cucumbers ~500 lbs
    Misc. ~100 lbs
    Total ~ 4,350 lbs (without much care)

    Your numbers are not only totally believable but also there is no reason for anyone to doubt unless someone decides just to be a naysayer.

  26. Jonathan says:

    Hey Anais,

    I wonder if I might ask a question here…you say that your garden in 1/10 of an acre or 66×66. How much of that space is ‘growing’ and how much is walkway? Just trying to get an idea of your set-up.

  27. Ruth G says:

    there will always be those who choose to knock down what they can not easily do. As someone said above, it is an instant gratification world. Of course it is possible to do what you have done, with effort, a learning spirit, a willingness to try and stumble in order to learn and to not waste money. Awhile ago, on a bulletin board I post to someone said it wasn’t “worth it” to her to make her own bread when she could get it for 19 cents a loaf at the bread outlet. I decided to do the math and found that I could make our “daily bread,” a whole-grain oatmeal, for 32 cents per loaf. Yes it is more work but it was good wholesome bread that we love more than sliced white bread. It is definitely more work, but it is work that I love. If the person hated baking and loved basic sliced white bread, well, then it definitely wouldn’t be worth it…. TO THEM! “Worth” is a relative term.

    If someone hates to get dirty and garden, doing the amount of work that you have to do to raise that amount of produce would probably not be “worth it” to you. Everything: money, time, effort, skill, is a resource we choose to invest and we all make our choices about where to invest our resources. As I live in a different climate than you do (Zone 4-5 in northern New England), I do not replicate what you do exactly but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe it is possible. This year, with more than a few failures and weather problems, we have raised over 300 pounds of food. And that is in just one, very short season with both of us working outside the home, having no fruit trees and not employing nearly the number of innovative strategies that you have attempted. Therefore, simple math extrapolation would say that 4 people, working full time at it, with a multi-season planting seasons and more experience could definitely raise thousands of pounds of food.

    I will raise my trowel high in salute and thankfulness to you for your efforts, your inspiration, and your gracious sharing of both your successes and your challenges.
    Ruth in NH

  28. Thy Hand says:

    We’re still willing to put in the hard work. It’s so worth it! In fact, we just posted our 2010 harvest tally. Here’s the link if you want to take a look-see….


    Keep up the good and inspiring work, folks!

  29. Tawney says:

    Movements are just that…they move on! But I say do what you love. We have all been created with purpose and it makes me very frustrated when naysayers say “impossible” Maybe for them it is. Their purpose is something else then. Those that follow a movement might get tired and move on but for those that discover a different way of life and it clicks Yah! I say we Will get more the next time the movement moves our way.

  30. Patti says:

    Having seen Homegrown Revolution and past/current photos of your garden, there is no reason to doubt the amount of your harvest. As you say, folks have realized that growing food is hard work. My late father-in-law, who had a gift for stating the obvious, often said, “Hard work is never easy.” Anything worth having is worth effort and you really do get out of it what you put into it. Right now, there is no way we could live from what we grow. I have had a learning curve, but that has been part of the fun! After December, I’ll be done with school and have lots of free time to work on my gardening and food preservation skills. I appreciate your example and will continue to learn from your efforts.

  31. Denise says:

    We’re in! This year we converted an abandoned tennis court into our garden. We installed a cistern to collect rainwater with a pump and conduit to get it up the hill to the garden. We cleared 30 years of locust trees, scrub bushes and poison ivy out of it. We built raised beds out of scrap lumber and old bricks. We want to go organic but lost 80 percent of what we grew to insects. Cucumber beetles, squash bugs and tomato and cabbage worms. Very discouraging, but are willing to accept any suggestions and get back in the game in the spring.

  32. Deanna says:

    Yes it is a lot of hard work and you do get out of it what you put in. My yard is about the same size or a little smaller. I am already in the planning stages for next year. I find this is way more fun than going to a gym. There is something to be said about going outside and toiling around in the earth. It’s good for the soul, the taste of the crops are delicious, and eating good food will help you stay healthy. While everyone at work is dropping around with the flu I’m still healthy. They keep saying oh you’ll get sick soon enough. I might but it is only for a day and then I am ready to go while everyone else is out for 3-4.

  33. Annette Triplett @ CoMo Homestead says:

    It’s so awesome to see you hit your 6000 lb mark again. Nicely done!

    We’re still ramping up our urban homestead operation, so my goal this year was to just grow more than I did last year. I haven’t officially added it all up yet, but I know it’s over 100 lb – which means I met my goal.

  34. CJ says:

    Good things are coming out of our garden. Each year we grow more of our own food and do more to take care of ourselves, neighborhood, community, planet. Your lifestyle documentations have meant the world to us as we stumble and play our way along. Thank you Dervaes all

  35. Mindy says:

    I would say the trend is still strong in New Orleans. Check out the New Orleans Food and Farm Network online. There is a large network of community gardens, as well as a growing number of urban farmers. This trend grew legs after Katrina, when there simply was no easy access to food. In certain areas of town, there were no grocery stores at all. People find it hard to forget that. For gardening, it doesn’t hurt that you can garden year round in South Louisiana. Here is the link for NOFFN website: http://www.noffn.org/ I highly recommend exploring this site.

  36. Daphne says:

    Well I’ve been growing vegetable in my backyard for as long as I’ve had a back yard. So I’m not going anywhere. This year I moved. I finally have my full beds up last week but over the summer all I had was my small rock wall garden (which will be in fruits probably next year). It has about 200sqft of growing space. My old garden had about 240. My harvest total so far this year is 322 lbs. And my garden is frozen solid during the winter. Of course you can get 6000lbs with intensive growing. I think newbie gardeners haven’t learned how yet and they figure if they can’t figure it out the first year it must be impossible.

  37. Jeni says:

    I personally think what your family is doing is priceless! I agree with you the fad of being more sustainable is starting to dwindle away and the people that did it just because it was the “cool” thing to do are no longer doing it or simply saying it can’t be done (NEWS FLASH it can and is BEING DONE)! For those that are doing it or started it and really want to make a change and did research and continue to learn are still doing it! I personally think that for someone to say that it “was a waste of time and money” are simply just lazy. It’s like that gentleman in the movie FRESH said Americans fear one thing inconvenience! Once I heard that quote it really nailed it on the head don’t you think?

    Some people now days want it now they do not want to wait and most people would rather have someone else do it for them. No one wants to put in the hours of hard backbreaking work that it takes to live off the land. I once heard a woman say why should I grow my own food when someone else can do it for me and I can also get it from the grocery store and then use my yard for pretty flowers, shrubs etc. (my jaw hit the floor)

    It is heartbreaking to see how our mindset is now days.

    As for our garden it was wiped out this year by a massive hailstorm we got so we were not able to save much it was a hard lesson learned. However because of your family and inspiration you continue to give us we have already planned out next years crop rotation and have our list of seeds we will be purchasing from you:) I can’t wait!!! Growing your own food is so rewarding! I love watching our seedlings sprout up through the dirt and blossom! My garden is my sanctuary.

    • Eloise Martindale says:

      @Jeni, I’m with you. I enjoy gardening (most of the time). Sometimes it’s just work, but the work pays off and it’s good exercise. I especially enjoy watching the seeds pop up and grow. I love my garden. I love being able to go out in the yard and pick something and eat it. It just feels right. My grandfather was a farmer who grew fruit, corn, squash, berries, tomatoes etc and raised chickens. I think I am just carrying on my family tradition. I don’t mind cleaning the “poop” out of the chicken yard daily. It’s no big deal.

      I think we Americans are “programed” to believe we don’t have time to DO the things that are actually important. We are told that we can “have it our way” etc. This is a bunch of propaganda to get us to buy products that may not even be good for us. But we fall for it, don’t we.

      Many of us have lived in cities for so many generations that we have no clue how to provide our own food. We are willing to go to college for four or more years to learn a career, but how much time do we expect it to take to learn to garden successfully? When times get really hard, some of us will need to patiently teach our neighbors.

      As far as seed sales being down–I wonder if SOME of it is because people are saving their own open pollinated seeds. My goal is to save as many of mine as I can. I bought an enormous variety of seeds this year. Next year I will not need to by nearly as many.

      • Anais says:

        @Eloise Martindale: Good points, thanks for adding to the discussion.

  38. amy manning says:

    A waste of time and money? Hmmm… that’s pretty harsh. I can’t say that time spent in the garden is ever a waste of my time as it just happens to be where I want to be. As far as money… well, it can be a very expensive hobby. But I’m learning just where to spend my money. And I don’t have to spend money going to a gym!

    • Anais says:

      @amy manning: Good point! Thanks for weighing in.

  39. rebecca says:

    waste of time and money?? really?

    You all are an inspiration to me as my husband and I are finishing up our first summer with our urban garden in Pittsburgh.
    We will save lots of money this year from the work we put into our garden. We haven’t made the final tally yet, but I think we picked close to 300 pounds of tomatoes, canned over 40 quarts of sauce. I believe the process does take up time – so it takes a certain value system. I personally, am done buying nutrition deprived veggies from the grocery store that have been shipped over thousands of miles. I am committed to taking care of the earth and I want to eat food that is nutritional and fresh. I applaud your efforts and we are right there with you trying to do the same. 🙂

    • Anais says:

      @rebecca: I know, what a thing to say. Wow, 300 lbs – way to grow! You are right, growing food takes time but in the end you are rewarded! Thanks for the positive comments

  40. Dog Island Farm says:

    I am interested in reading the article that says gardening is a waste of time and money. Anyway you can provide us a link to it? Or just email it to me?

  41. Rosanne Mays says:

    Oh, Oh, Oh! I just knew this grow your own trend would decline quickly…grrr! Yes, it is hard work and yes, some years tomatoes do well and the next year, not so much. That is why I read gardening blogs and visit sites like yours to keep me motivated. It is hard work, but it gets easier once you have your soil built up and once you have lived through a bad harvest just to have the next one be really good.

    Another motivation for me is my animals. My chickens keep me in the garden, even my worms (the ones in my wormery) keep me in the game knowing that something is depending on me to keep up the good work.

    Thanks for all your hard work, just seeing the pictures online keep me moving in the right direction.

  42. Tina Marie says:

    I have been seriously gardening for four years now, and have no intenion of stopping. I discovered a passion for growing that most people dont understand. I work full time in an office, and it is sometimes stressful, unmanageable and daunting to tend my 200 square feet of garden (especially during the hardening-off period) and my fruit. I just keep tweaking my methods and my schedule to make it easier, because I know this is important. My job allows me to expand my garden slowly and pay for my house so that one day, I can homestead full time….I have seen several people fall off the bandwagon, and as its been said, the reason is biting off more than one can initially chew. My sister made 12 8×4 beds, built 3 worm bins, and bought chickens/goats all in the same year. The only thing they stuck with is the chickens.

  43. Susan says:

    Honestly, Anais, I haven’t been here recently because I’m busy preserving the harvest…it’s a lifestyle for us. My husband is completely on board, though he still has much smaller goals than I do — because he’s seen how much we really CAN bring in from our .23 acres — and because he can taste the difference that growing your own or buying local makes. We have even expanded our local foodshed to include locally produced and butchered meats and poultry, thanks to our friends who live on a farm.

    I knew people would figure out this was hard work and bail. Having grown up with gardening as a vital source of our food supply, I was aware of the both the challenges and rewards of gardening even though I didn’t do it for many years. When I finally took it up again, it was as though my mother were over my shoulder cheering me on and lending moral support. She would be proud that her influence has had such a lasting impact and is now feeding her great-grand daughter too. Food is love, after all. How better to show your love to your fellow humans than by giving them nourishing tasty food?

    People can doubt all they want, it doesn’t change the reality that lots of us get many hundreds and even thousands of pounds of produce yearly. If they’re lazy, if they don’t have experience, read a LOT or don’t seek a mentor from a gardening club/permaculture guild/experienced neighbor or coworker, of course they’ll probably fail. Only things really worth having are really worth working for, and a garden or farm is one of them.

    I haven’t read the news article but I say phooey on them — they either haven’t tried it or aren’t willing to make the sacrifices.

  44. Janice says:

    We know your yields are true!!! We are still in it for the long haul! Yes, we have been spending a good hundred here and there to haul in dirt. But we see it as an investment. Considering how long we will be eating off the land and how much it would cost if we were to buy all that certified organic from Whole Foods Market! We’ll keep plugging away at it too, in the city not to far from you. We still have LONG way to go before we even come close to a 1/4 of your harvests, but each year we learn more and our soil improves more too. Slow and steady, that’s sustainable! Keep up the great work!

  45. Jeff Otte says:

    Congratulations on another amazing year, whether you make 6000 pounds or not!

    I had small gardens for many years, but I was inspired by you a few years ago to try to kick it higher up the scale. I have a small suburban plot outside of Pittsburgh, PA. The “acreage” totals a whopping 0.15 including the house, and a third of that is a hill side…

    Well, I cleared the scrub trees from the hills, established some beds, started some berries, etc. and I think next year I may start weighing the output. My wife and I started canning a few years back. And I generally have a freezer full at the end of the season.

    I planted winter squash and cantaloupes along the edge so they would grow down a steep hill. I have established a few blueberries and blackberries on another hillside. I have permanent plantings of onions, asparagus, and sage. I am hopeful for a taste of asparagus this year. This year I had garlic, swiss chard and trellised cucumbers in one bed. Also snap peas, beans, peppers, dill, parsley, basil, eggplant, zucchini, carrots, beets, and a few established chive colonies in old cinder block for the main bed. And some shiitake in oak limbs at the side of the house. a lot of lettuce, planted in beds, blocks, and an old brick bbq that fell into disrepair before I bought the place 25 years ago.

    I have more plans than I likely have years left to work on them. I have one more space to clear for fruit trees and a permanent mushroom habitat. I intend to establish a Monarch Way Station in the front utilizing more herbs and the water diverted form the front roof.

    I need to stop typing. I could go on forever.

    Thank you for the spark.


    • Anais says:

      @Jeff Otte: Thank you for taking the time to share your journey. We do so enjoy reading such comments as yours. We are certainly blessed that we’ve had this opportunity to share our journey and inspire so many people along the way. Wishing you all the best and much success. Keep us posted now and again. See you along the path

  46. Mary says:

    I absolutely believe you! Our first 4×6 garden in hard desert clay, which I added compost to, produced over 100 lbs of Roma tomatoes, beets, carrots, radish, lettuce, brocolli and herbs non-stop! I also kill houseplants. I came across a local gardener’s blog proclaiming that he doesn’t believe anyone can grow tomatoes in the desert. If he can’t, then no one can. I read that after my romas and cherry tomatoes produced nonstop year round! So, if I could grow that much veggies, anyone can 🙂

Post a comment