Left to right: Jordanne, Blackberry (goat) & Jules, solar oven, backyard garden with earthen oven, outdoor solar shower
PROMISING RETURN TO THE PAST
A farm based in the middle of urban LA
August 9, 2008 La Opinion
The ordinary Dervaes house shines like any other one in the Pasadena area, located on the side of the freeway and between governmental buildings. Although if one looks more carefully, one will notice the out of the ordinary luxurious foliage and thickness of the vegetation. Beneficial insects, bees and butterflies have found a true paradise there.
Getting closer, one is able to identify brilliant tomatoes, the fuchsia amaranth, the mature apples that fall off the branches, edible flowers and other species that overflow the narrow footpaths of the front yard of the property. That space is only the first sample of the Path to Freedom farm, which Jules Dervaes, of Belgian origin, has created on his property and which may well be compared to those which functioned several decades ago in this country or Europe.
“My lot only measures 31X66 feet [correction: 131X66 feet] but all the free space we have occupied with the planting of vegetables, fruits, and a farmyard with hens, goats, bees and ducks,” the owner explains while he enters among the small plots of cucumber , eggplants, strawberries and pumpkins, these last ones being of enormous size.
“Our crops are totally organic and we consume them, my three children and I, who also participate in this project. We sell the fresh surplus produce to local restaurants, as well as the edible flowers and decorative ones.”
The satisfied businessman narrates how his father grew exotic plants in Tampa and thus it occurred to him to do the same thing in Pasadena , when he decided to change his place of residence [in 1985].
“At first we only grew vegetables and fruits for family consumption, but when when I began to have a surplus, I offered it to nearby restaurants,” he explains.” Now Path to Freedom no only distributes organic produce, but it is also an organization which offers various services like events which demonstrate the benefits of food gardening, water saving and energy, recycling and other subjects of benefit to the environment of the planet.”
Return to the Past
In order to make a less intense impact on the planet, Dervaes and his children have opted to change their lifestyle. In the first place, they have decided to not only disconnect their electrical appliances, but also to omit them as well. The farmer indicates that the only electrical device that he has is the refrigerator and that it is certified with a energy saving label.
Some of the manual apparatus of the family are a blender and coffee mill and they utilize a solar oven. Various solar panels cover the roof of their garage and supply more than 70% of the energy of the house, the surplus is returned to the eclectic company.
“The saving of water and energy is another of our priorities, for this I have adapted a small room that supplies hot water from the Sun. We take advantage of the waste water to water nearby plants. Also, we have a toilet that works with the water from the water bowl installed above the tank.”
Another substantial saving of the family is the fact that it buys no gasoline. It counts on equipment which transforms used vegetable oil into biodiesel which is the fuel for their vehicles.
In the back corner of the plot of land of Path to Freedom, different species of hens, goats, ducks and rabbits from different parts of the world and which have never been caged occupy a small open space, living together harmoniously.
The fresh organic eggs from the ducks and hens increase their consumer products for sale.
One of the pastimes of the Dervaes daughters is walking through the neighborhood accompanied by some of their goats. “I imagine that they are a little surprised to see me with my goat and her leash as if it were a dog, but I believe that they are getting used to it.”
The internet site of Path to Freedom is www.urbanhomestead.org