Guerrilla farmer in an urban jungle

Urban Camo

If you have noticed, in many photos taken of urban farmer, Justin, he’s wearing camouflaged pants and shirts.   It’s not that he has eyes on the latest fashion (what’s in style anyway) or that he’s joined some underground militia movement. We can’t afford organic hemp or cotton clothes, and sometimes the local second hand stores are unreliable, especially in the men’s clothing department. So Justin purchases his work clothes in bulk from an online Army supply store. His outfit saves energy and water. How so? Burly, straight-razor-shaving Justin figured since he’s always dirty (planting, digging, sawing, etc.), such clothes would camouflage the dirt so that he can wear the pants and shirts longer than if they were a plain color. Meaning, less water and energy to wash clothes. A pretty efficient urban farmer/homesteader wardrobe, wouldn’t you say?

Fall roses bloom on the urban homestead

Summer Visits Again

Last week it was overcast, chilly, even drizzly and downright fall like. This week, temperatures are expected to soar into the triple digits (red flag warning issued as fires burn). Talk about whiplash. At least we can remove clothing layers; the goats aren’t so fortunate. Having grown a layer of soft down under their coats for the winter, the goats are finding these warm days quite uncomfortable and are taking refugee in the shade.   Blackberry (being black) spends the hottest part of the afternoon pouting in the corner of the animal enclosure in the shade.

From The Inbox

Good Morning Dervaes Family,

This is just a quick note to thank you for sharing your experiences on your website. It’s an inspiration to see a family listening to their own common sense in a world that’s not necessarily operating in the same way.

….Anyway, we’re doing what we can when we can, and trying to keep at it and keep our heads up. It’s just encouraging to see folks that have made it as far along as yourselves, so back to the original point of this e-mail. Thank you for sharing so much of your experiences, I happened to find your site about a year ago and have checked in periodically. It’s re-assuring and offers hope to someone like myself that it might just be possible to shake free of the foolish mistakes that our intelligent minds can clearly see the folly of. And to see you approaching it with an attitude that’s a positive example of what you’ve been able to do right now, as opposed to just a venting rail against all that’s wrong with the world as we find so many other places, it’s just been very reassuring to see that. Sincerely,Jack MDad, Citizen of the Human Race, Aspiring Environmental Steward.

Plug less appliances.

Unplugged Kitchen

A step backwards is progress

You’ll not find the latest eco green home gadgets here on the urban homestead. What we’ve done instead to turn our home to be a more sustainable, low impact household is opt to power down.    The kitchen, for example, runs only one electrical appliance and that’s the energy efficient refrigerator.   Thanks to a rebate provided by the City of Pasadena, we were able to dump our second hand fridge and cut our energy nearly in half.

You’ll not find any other electrical appliance or gadgets plugged into wall outlets sucking power. Instead you’ll find plug less gadgets like a hand operated blender, food processor, juicer and more.   Just like unplugged music, which is stripped and low tech, so it is in the urban homestead’s kitchen. On this power down path to reduce our consumption of wasteful products over the past 10 years, Justin has been shaving with a straight razor.

It’s quite a fine art shaving your face with such a menacing looking object. Thankfully, we gals have learned to reject the use of shavers. (Living in California where anything goes certainly helps!)Since I am on the subject of basic hygiene, many years ago we also taught ourselves to cut our own hair. Learning how to DIY saves us money, which can be put to better use elsewhere. (Around here basic men’s hair cuts go for about $30!) The more you can do for yourself, the better off you are, both in acquiring a new skill and in saving yourself money


Are Our Kids the Sickest Generation? {MSN}

More kids than ever before are diagnosed with bipolar, ADHD, allergies, and asthma. Why, and what does it mean for your child?
read more

Biotech foods are still hard to swallow {LA Times}

Hypoallergenic peanuts? Vitamin-rich rice? Calcium-filled potatoes? Biotech companies are working on the next wave of genetically engineered foods, but not without challenges.
read more

Rising seas threaten 21 mega-cities {Yahoo}

Of the 33 cities predicted to have at least 8 million people by 2015, at least 21 are highly vulnerable, says the Worldwatch Institute.They include Dhaka, Bangladesh; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Shanghai and Tianjin in China; Alexandria and Cairo in Egypt; Mumbai and Kolkata in India; Jakarta, Indonesia; Tokyo and Osaka-Kobe in Japan; Lagos, Nigeria; Karachi, Pakistan; Bangkok, Thailand, and New York and Los Angeles in the United States, according to studies by the United Nations and others.
read more

‘Lights Out’ Conservation Effort Fails in SoCal {ABC 7}

A late start to publicizing last night’s Lights Out LA event may have dimmed participation in the citywide energy conservation effort.
read more

Too bad, that’s LA for you.   We did and do our part, every night is lights out here on the urban homestead.


  1. Wildside says:

    “A pretty efficient urban farmer/homesteader wardrobe, wouldn’t you say?”

    Just read the first portion of your blog (about Justin’s attire) so far — and am laughing along with… As this is what my hubby says I should start making my gardening uniform — for the same reasons you’ve mentioned, plus for getting some of that much needed privacy I keep going on about! He doesn’t want to move.

    “You could then camoflague into the garden,” hubby says, “then the neighbors can’t see !”

  2. Mia says:

    I liked reading about your unplugged kitchen. I know that you have both sun and cob ovens for outdoor cooking. What do you use if neither of those will do the trick? Do you have a stove that you can plug in when needed.? Like for canning? Hopefully I will be adding a sun oven to our appliance list soon!

  3. Hannah says:

    Are the powered down appliances you have antiques that were made before there was electricity, or are they new models? I have some that I have collected from family and garage sales/op shops but want to get more (and a sun oven of course)

  4. connie in nm says:

    Thanks for showing your unplugged kitchen. Would love to see more of the kitchen, since so much work takes place there. Thanks too for all the food pics and menus. You are all an inspiration.

  5. Becky L. says:

    Thank you for the view into your kitchen. It always looks so warm and inviting – like Tasha Tudor’s. A place where you’d like to sit and have tea or enjoy working to provide for friends and family.

  6. Angie Robinson says:

    I would like to know more about the unplugged appliances. What do you use and what do you use it for? I’m finally learning how to cook in general and how to cook a wider variety of local veg in particular and would love tips on how to use the appliances.

  7. Joyce says:

    Where did you get the nice, solid-looking coffee grinder? We’re powering down our own kitchen. For a year now, we’ve been using a cutesy-antiquey grinder that’s always on the verge of falling apart. Just yesterday I found one designed for camping that we’re trying out, but it’s a little frustrating, too. I haven’t been able to find solid-looking ones even at Lehmans.

    Your website is a real inspiration to those of us who aren’t in a position to move to a country homestead.

  8. Robbyn says:

    I always enjoy your site so much! Thank you for sharing the practicals so that we can learn from your experience and adapt the lessons to our own lives. I’ve given you the online Blogger for Global Change award at my website since your site is one of the original I ever read when my husband and I began orienting ourselves (and working hard towards)changing our lives and adopting a homesteading and sustainability mindset. We’re in the process of looking for land, and many of your ideas we find here at your site fuel many discussions and plans we are putting into effect. Thank you again, so much, for your encouragement to those of us out here who are tired of being told we have no choices other than processed foods and genetically modified substances…we strongly feel our freedoms are at stake and we can gently but determinedly take back our control over the foods we desire to grow and consume. Thank you…thank you!