Urban Homestead’s 2010 Year in Review

I know it’s a bit overdue (thanks to busy & rough start to the new year) and, honestly, I was putting it off because I am having a really BAD case of writer’s block…. but here it goes!

Looking back on our goals from last year Justin (Jethro) got his fish project underway,  the grey water project too.

Jordanne (Ellie Mae) revamped our two social networks, Freedom Gardens and launched Backyards & Barnyards and did get around to organizing a lot of mess.  Not to forget the launced her super amazing Natural Poultry Supplement Mix which is receiving rave reviews!

As for me (Granny),  the mountain of fabric and yarn still looms like a huge shadow but the craft-music room is coming along nicely.  Not sure if I am talking less and listening more – guess I’ll have to ask my family & friends that.

The 7K bonanza harvest wasn’t the only highlight from 2010

We went back to Wild & Scenic located in the quaint mountain town of Nevada City and had a chance to meet our favorite author, John Robbins.  Had a workshop at the Eco Farm conference in lovely grounds Asilomar (didn’t get to spend as much time on the beach as we’d like since it was soooo cold and rainy!).   Not to mention numerous articles and video pieces which all were featured here on the blog – our favorite being the recent So Cal Connect piece , I am Los Angeles , Private Chefs of Beverly HillsSis and I were “Cover Girls” & with an article featured in this online magazine and I wrote about my home school experience for another

Our home made film “Homegrown Revolution” won  many awards including : Best Environment & Ecology Film North America – Swansea International Film Festival, U.K.; Prize of the Mayor of the Capitol City of Slovakia – Ekotop Film Festival of Sustainable Development, Slovakia; Best Short Documentary – Southern Appalachian International Film Festival, Tennessee; Honorable Mention: Westpac Award Best Short Film – Reel Earth Environmental Film Festival, New Zealand.  (You can purchase a DVD copy)

We traveled to back to the homestead in New Zealand where I was born (more pics and tales to come) and with our biggest turn out ever to a presentation on urban homesteading!

After the New Zealand trip: Other outreach opportunities included four university appearances by “Farmer D” and a presentation for a public school district’s student gardens fundraiser.

On the urban  homestead

Keeping it real.  As with any journey, we had our ups and downs.

Passing of dear old Clementine (the poster chicken & darling of the UH movement) and our duck Amy after freak accident which never fully recovered from.

The cycle of life continued, Though there were sad deaths there was new life with four additions to our flock.  Our southern belles  – Annalee, Lulu Belle, Beulah and Opal.

Pushing the envelope in urban sustainability we added new projects:  hops for beer and 50 tilapia for aquaponics fish farming and wrote about the challenges that we face of growing food in the city.

Wrote about necessary Urban Homestead apparel and “Natural Beauty, ”  “Homesteader Hygiene“, & Living Without ACWashing Clothes by Hand & threw an amazing  “Girlie” Tea Party under $50!

Long time customer, Elements, who featured our many of our homegrown items on his menu unceremoniously dumped us (having money issues)   When one door closed, it opened up our produce to the public with the launch of the Front Porch Farm Stand featuring local foods and goods.

Weather continued to be a problem with a record heat wave in October & record rainfall in December

Though we had one of our best honey harvest in years, Varroa Mites (and early cold weather) wiped out all of our of beehives except one.

I dropped the ball on the Weekly Meal wrap ups (sorry readers) posts but I picked up guitar which I am enjoying relearning – well, except for the sore finger tips.   Ouch!

There you have it!  Some of the highlights of 2010,  I know I just touched the tip of the ice berg otherwise I’d be here all day.

So what our plans/goals for 2011?   That’s certainly a good question and a lot to digest ….  we do know are going to have sadly terminate some projects because of the lack of support.   It’s a bitter pill to swallow put sometimes you got to cut things that are weighing you down.  I’m talking to myself here… have to keep saying that!

Also like to thank all of you readers who have supported us via donations or purchases from our online store.    Not to mention all the wonderful letters, cards and emails.   THANK YOU!

While I try to shake off a awful case writers block, if you are new or a lurker to this blog, this is a good time to swap howdies or better yet TELL US what your FAVORITE post(s) of 2010 were!

So pull up a chair and give us a holler ya hear and hope 2011 is off to a good start for you!


  1. Thy Hand says:

    Thanks so much for this recap. I haven’t been getting over here as much as I’d like, so the year in review was wonderful. I can’t pick a favorite post, but I will say that when I need some new found inspiration, I always know I can find it here. May God bless you, your family, and all your endeavors in 2011. I can’t wait to see what the year will bring:-).

  2. Lea Ann @Whateverstate says:

    Whenever I think I am busy, I just think of you. Just reading that recap makes me feel exhausted! All in all, it looks like a great year. Praying God’s richest blessings on this one, too!

  3. StaceyG says:

    While I enjoy reading everything on the blog, I’ve really enjoyed the homesteader hygiene posts, especially everything that people say in the comments! Good luck overcoming your writer’s block. 🙂

  4. Stacy says:

    Hi Anais,
    Your blog is a continual inspiration — I think most would agree. However, if it’s helpful (and since you asked) I enjoy most the blogs that share how you are using your land. How you are laying out the gardens, how you are raising the fish, bees, chickens, etc… Not just what your are doing but how you are doing it. I find those are the ones that I dig into the most. You have done a wonderful job providing this type of information. Thanks! Once it’s communicated that it can be done, the how is the most helpful information to follow.
    A few days back someone suggested that you provide Youtube videos of your knitting lessons. I agreed wholeheartedly, but perhaps it would be better to provide video “lessons” in every aspect of your homestead project for a small fee, which could be provided right from your website. This could provide a bit more income, you could educate about Urban Homesteading and generate income. For example, a short video of how your brother uses the soil block tool. Make the cost minimal (like $1.00 or so) to view it, then of course, provide the product (soil blocker) for sale when applicable.
    If you just add this to your current web project, you’ll be able to still provide information about Urban Homesteading for free to all, and then for those who want more, for a very small fee, they can actually see our favorite homesteading-mentor-family doing what they do best — teaching others how.

    In May, we are opening a consignment shop in our store, using our village home to provide for us in another way. Is this something that’s possible for your property? I’d love to hear more about your thrift store finds and recycling efforts.

    Thank you Dervae family! I look forward to your continual inspiration in 2011!!

    • Bethany says:

      I love this idea! I, too, would love more info about exactly how to do some of the things the Dervaes family is doing, and it would be great if it could provide extra income for them.

      Love your site, Dervaes’! Thanks for all you do!

  5. Carole McGivern says:

    Hi Anais,

    All of your posts are very inspiring! My favourites tackle your animals, growing and cooking your food. It’s great to see exactly what you eat. I love that level of detail….it would be great to see your recipes too….but obviously you can’t spend all day on that sort of thing.

    all the very best for 2011,

  6. Annette Triplett @ CoMo Homestead says:

    I think your aquaponics venture is really really interesting. I’d love to hear more about it and how it’s progressing! Do you think it could work in a colder climate?

  7. Amanda says:

    Thank you so, so much for sharing your family’s wonderful life with all of us!! It is so inspirational to see what you are doing for the good of your loved ones and our planet. It has inspired me to expand my backyard garden to the point where I didn’t have to purchase a single item of produce from the store last summer and had lots of canned goodies over the winter! How exciting! I look forward to your posts and updates and I would like to extend my gratitude for your encouraging words and the wonderful example you set. I look forward to hearing about your adventures in 2011. Keep up the amazing work!

  8. elaine says:

    Thanks for the year in review. Great job! Awesome what you all have accomplished in 20l0. I love all your photos and especially enjoyed your writing about necessary Urban Homestead apparel, living without AC, washing by hand, how you use grey water. Keep on writing and don’t worry about what to write about. Everything you write about is interesting and of value.

  9. Sadie says:

    Your guys are a great inspiration. I’ve used your example to help convince our local City Council to consider a community garden. I’ve been trying for three years with no progress. Examples from your blog finally proved our argument. A person really can grow enough to significantly impact their economic situation if they had a piece of earth to do it. This also got the attention of a local organization who just recently received grant money. Our garden is planned to open this spring, fully paid for and bigger than I expected (12,555sqft), with all the amenities you could hope for, tools, storage, deer proof fencing, municipal water (even underground irrigation). Someone also donated a brand new tiller. It’s like a dream come true! The only condition by the City is that we make it pretty with some flowers here and there, and that plot fees be enough to cover the water used. Nearly half the plots are spoken for and we haven’t publicized it yet.

    On another note about the fish setup, have you considered duckweed? 43% protein. Fish and duckweed feed off each other directly, as one grows so does the other. It is an easy protein source for chickens too, just scoop and feed it. Just a tip.

    • Anais says:

      @Sadie: That’s great news, thanks for sharing. Congrats on a job well done.
      Yes, indeed. We do have duckweed growing in a few containers!

  10. Boni says:

    When you’re having writers block just post more around the homestead pictures. I like the kitchen and garden pictures the best. Thanks for all you do, you’re an amazing inspiration.

  11. Psalm 19:14 says:

    I appreciate your year in review! My husband and I have what our state would consider a hobby farm. We have a large garden and “critters.” Throughout the year I have enjoyed your posts, but my favorite ones are the “peeks” into your home life. I especially liked the craft music room makeover. I have a room dedicated mainly to art/craft/sewing. Our living room is also a music room. Learning a musical instrument has been one of the most challenging things I have ever done; music has exceed my expectations. I am glad to hear you are getting back into playing the guitar and would love to hear about your progress from time to time. Have you ever posted any videos of your family and friends playing? Looking forward to a another great year of posts!

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