Bird’s eye view

You will not find Jessica Parker on this set, but we do have our own set of characters (vixens included) and enough daily dramas here on our urban homestead to be more than interesting.

And it’s a REAL reality show, not Hollywood manufactured. Located just a mile from the heart of downtown Pasadena, the Rose Bowl (visible in upper left photo), and two major freeways, our little 1/5 acre plot (66’x132’ft) but only 1/10 under cultivation) has produced over 3 tons (6,000 lbs) of food two years in a row. Looking at our tiny area from the air, it’s hard to imagine that such a small space could produce so much. Justin found these satellite images for the Sol Fest presentation (picture has to be from a winter’s day because there is no smog!).  

Seeing these aerial shots was fascinating. We realize how small we are in the scope of the “big picture”  (Just thought we’d share this with you readers.) If you look closely, you can also see the outline of the garden beds (and if you look even closer there’s Justin’s hand watering the tomatoes *grin*).

The urban homestead is on a completely opposite spectrum to the hustle and insanity that surrounds us. Thousands of cars and people zoom by on the freeway.  A few blocks away, people stroll Old Towne in their latest threads, buying things they probably don’t need. We’re  a whole different world; our triumphs and struggles are so far different from what the majority of Angelinos experience. It may surprise you but we live under a constant dictatorship!  

I am quoting a student gardener from a CNN article “Gardening is not a democracy.”   Well stated; he’s so right!   We are ruled by nature and there isn’t much we can do about. This “tough love” dictatorship teaches us the valued lessons of patience and perseverance.  

One hard lesson learned is that we aren’t in control and can’t vote to change the outcome.
Now, back to the picture. Zooming out farther from this isolated view, one sees America.  Zooming even farther shows the entire world. We know that in that great big blue marble earth, there are fellow travelers and homesteaders, each scattered about on their isolated oasis, yet all connected in a common effort and spirit..

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  1. Nancy says:

    I had no idea you lived in such an urban setting! With 2 freeways so close to you. Put into that perspective, what an absolute paradise you have created. It really is like my garden, smack dab in downtown Phoenix, I keep trying to attract wildlife, but like you have so little chance, I’m lucky to have butterflies, birds and the occasional lizard!

    Speaking of the apocalypic vision, as I did yesterday, I do have visions of life after the fall myself. I figure if I’m the only one with eggs, people will have to be nice to me! (Most likely they’ll just steal my chickens…)

  2. Anais says:

    Hello Nancy (and fellow urban homesteader!)

    I’ve been to Phoenix and it’s certainly a wonderful accomplishment to have attracted butterflies, birds and other creatures!
    It’s a tough environment and anything that you can do (and have done) is appreciate by the wildlife in your area.

    Thanks again for your question about the apocalypic vision, Jules(my father) will address your question shortly.

    You have brought up a valid and scary point — what happens when their is a collapse and you (we) are the only ones with food? When people’s stomach rumbles with hunger there is no telling what they are capable of.

  3. Nancy says:

    I have a wonderful idea. You folks have such energy, commitment, and obvious organizational skills, why don’t you sell your Pasadena property, buy a big parcel of land somewhere, and sell off 5 acre bits of it to other like-minded folks (like me natch) who could surround the center you would build, like spokes surrounding the hub of the wheel, to learn from you and put these lessons into practice? Somewhere with CLEAN AIR (something both Phoenix and LA lack), and water and room for little bunnies to romp. I know this is an ecotopian vision that many have had, but your commitment and organization seem extraordinary. Just a thought, obviously because I would love to live on 5 acres and not struggle with my back yard farm where oil stains come up when I deep soak the soil because it used to be used as a parking lot! Yours in dreams, Nancy

  4. Anais says:

    Nancy, thanks for the positive and encouraging comments. Homesteading in New Zealand and then on 10 acres in Florida we’ve always we’ve always wanted to go back-to-the-land. We thought Pasadena was temporary and instead of waiting for the land to come to us, we challenged ourselves to live a simple country life in the city.

    We’ve always known that one is limited to living a truly sustainable life in the city. It’s been our dream for over 10 years to live in a community like you described. After homesteading here for 5 years now we are feeling that we need to move on sometime soon.

    That’s really horrible about your soil. The previous owner of our house used the place for a dumping ground of car parts and all sorts of stuff. When we started our first garden over 18 years ago I remember digging up a variety of car parts and one area of the yard was stained from his dumping oil. It was certainly a mess!

    See you along the path…

    Many blessings,

  5. Mimi says:

    I had no idea you lived next door to a parking lot! I am shocked and even more in awe of what you are accomplishing. From your other pictures I imagined a street of suburban houses. Can you believe it? I think what you all are doing is a tribute to what a family can accomplish. I really admire your perserverance.

  6. Anais says:

    Mimi, Thanks for the encouraging comments. I know, the posted pictures of our place are certainly deceiving, showing only a limited view. We can hear the freeway from our place, and are surrounded by a school on two sides and across the street. Our “redevelopment” neigbhorhood has a half-way house up the street that sells drugs (always cops coming by) and kids that hang out with gangs.