THE URBAN HOMESTEAD

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

Lourdes López

View Original Article

[English Translation]

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.

The Farmyard

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

Comments(10)

  1. Elizabeth Chambers says:

    Ahhh…are those chocolate chip cookies in the solar oven?? Anais, we HAVE to do a baking segment some day! I love it. Keep up the good work.

  2. Elizabeth Chambers says:

    Ahhh…are those chocolate chip cookies in the solar oven?? Anais, we HAVE to do a baking segment some day! I love it. Keep up the good work.

  3. Christine says:

    Just Love this site!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Christine says:

    Just Love this site!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Joanne Poyourow says:

    Anais, would you do a piece on your outdoor shower? What kind of soap do you use in there? Actually, what kind of shampoo, because I can find soap but not desireable shampoo. And what kind of edibles do you grow in the greywater from it, in the different seasons (warm season vegs, cool season vegs)?
    We just got a greywater outlet and I have been entirely dissatisfied with the shampoo situation (my hair is quite long). Diluted apple cider vinegar is a great rinse and detangler, but the shampoo itself is the problem. I don’t like Aubreys. We’ve been using Bonner’s castile soap which is great for bodies but I’m not thrilled with it on hair.
    This summer I’ve been growing pumpkins in the greywater, but I’m not sure what to do for the cool season. I’ve heard you should only grow vegs where the edible portion does not touch the greywater.
    I’d love to hear what you do.

  6. Joanne Poyourow says:

    Anais, would you do a piece on your outdoor shower? What kind of soap do you use in there? Actually, what kind of shampoo, because I can find soap but not desireable shampoo. And what kind of edibles do you grow in the greywater from it, in the different seasons (warm season vegs, cool season vegs)?
    We just got a greywater outlet and I have been entirely dissatisfied with the shampoo situation (my hair is quite long). Diluted apple cider vinegar is a great rinse and detangler, but the shampoo itself is the problem. I don’t like Aubreys. We’ve been using Bonner’s castile soap which is great for bodies but I’m not thrilled with it on hair.
    This summer I’ve been growing pumpkins in the greywater, but I’m not sure what to do for the cool season. I’ve heard you should only grow vegs where the edible portion does not touch the greywater.
    I’d love to hear what you do.

  7. Iris says:

    Your a great example for us all. I live on the east coast so the conditions aren’t as good as CAL. year around.

    My children and I are learning little by little. I’d love to have the plans for that shower. Do you have them posted anywhere?

    You all take care, Iris

  8. Iris says:

    Your a great example for us all. I live on the east coast so the conditions aren’t as good as CAL. year around.

    My children and I are learning little by little. I’d love to have the plans for that shower. Do you have them posted anywhere?

    You all take care, Iris

  9. Tiffany says:

    Love the earthen oven. That’s one of our next projects here. Wow, you guys are just incredible! Truly inspirational for the rest of us trying to catch up 🙂

  10. Tiffany says:

    Love the earthen oven. That’s one of our next projects here. Wow, you guys are just incredible! Truly inspirational for the rest of us trying to catch up 🙂

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