Just a note about the last post, hoping the letter didn’t give the wrong impression to those true fellow travelers out there who, inspired by our journey, have started on their own path. PTF is with you 100%.  We are glad that you have found inspiration from our work.   We had an idea at the dinner table yesterday – something to do with all you urban homesteaders out there (don’t want to give it away); however, it would require more work for us. But hey, what’s another task to tackle anyhow? Perhaps once the new site is up, it will be easier to start this outreach campaign… never know.

What the email was referring to was that we have seen plenty of evidence of the blatant use of words, entire phrases and concepts taken from this site without credit or acknowledgment, and this was done for monetary gain$ (books, films, ad revenues, etc.).   

Because of the success of PTF built on years of our own hard work and sacrifice, there comes with it the copied phrases, photos, sayings, ideas, concepts on the Internet and in books to take commercial advantage of us to make money or in hope of fame.
There are those who see green, as in dollars, and have no sense of true green as in a commitment with their hearts to a community.  

For those of you who commented about going our going Hollywood. No need to worry (Wildside) about our turning into Britney or Paris.  The only spoiled girls here on the urban homestead are two furry little creatures – Blackberry and Fairlight. We could entice Hollywood with promises of 4 bathing beauties – only they would find duckies, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy swimming in the pond.  

Sneak peak at the new photo gallery

The Cost of Free?

We are keeping our end of the bargain as promised. The new PTF website is growing, going to be better than ever. It will ultimately, if I may say so, be the best documentation of urban homesteading on the Internet.   Thanks to support from many of our readers – we couldn’t grow without you. However, if you notice, we are still half short of our goal for this year, and time is running out – only three months left to meet our goal.

There’s still a lot of work needed to be done on the new website, and with the deadline looming, we are running short of time. (We have stats to update from the last three years, content and lots of it, design to work on, and so much, much more.) We had hoped to finish this fall; however, life goes on here on the urban homestead, so we’ll be lucky (a miracle?) if we can pull this mega project off by the end of the year.  We want this site finished just as much as you do. Done right, we’ll be able to move on… perhaps finally have time to accomplish some dreams of our own.

OK, having said that we are behind schedule, now we need your input.  We are in a predicament. With our wanting to keep PTF a commercial/ad free site, how can we put so much information freely on the web without it paying for itself – in bandwidth usage? Truth is, the more folks are searching for another path in life, the more popular this site becomes, the more bandwidth it uses.

The new photo gallery has really neat features. 1. on the front page you’ll be able to view most recently added photos 2. view the most popular photos 3. if you like a print (flower or harvest), there’s an option that you can purchase the print and more.   There was an option for comments, but we unfortunately had to disable it because at the moment we don’t have the time or staff to moderate this feature.

With the photo gallery containing nearly 140 categories AND over 1,600 photos (and counting), here are the options we have come up with so far:
1. free access to all 1,600+ photos and hope readers will continue to donate to support viewing from both the loyal readership and Internet browsers
2. allow viewing of a few, free photos. To view the photo gallery in its entirety would require a monthly, year membership fee (see #3)
3. if we opt for a membership fee for the photo gallery, how much to charge per month, with the option of monthly or yearly renewal. A) $10 a month /  $100 a year B) $15 a month / $150 a year, C) $20 a month / $200 a year and so forth
4. don’t count on any support and continue to pay for views of the photo gallery and entire PTF website out of our own pockets and what donations we do get from generous readers
5. finally admit defeat and compromise principles by looking for commercial sponsors and/or ads (last resort, if even an option to consider)
6. don’t plan on growing the future. scale back on the plans, visions for this site.

The path we take is up to you. Where else on the Internet can (will) you find such a comprehensive photo gallery on urban homesteading? I believe this site is providing an extraordinary public service. Nothing like this has been done before (well, not that we know of). They say a picture is worth a thousands words.   So the question is, what are the thousands of urban homestead photos “worth”? We have put a lot of hard work into all that we’ve accomplished here on the urban homestead, proof that positive change is taking root in our very own back (front) yard.   And we believe we can continue to do more, but, as we have learned, nothing comes free in life without some sort of price. Don’t be shy. You did it once before, and we are kindly asking again.  Speak up, we want to hear from you!   Comments, suggestions, anything would be greatly appreciated – comment below in the journal box or email us. We’d liked to see the many hours and effort we put into bringing our journey to the Internet for your enjoyment and inspiration be a win-win situation for all.   So, while I go through and enter titles and descriptions to the 1,643 photos….. please give me some moral support and feedback.    I am guilty. I admit I may have gone a bit overboard on cute goat photos (over 100)! 1600, 1599, 1598 1… oh boy, I’m afraid it’s going to be a long, long, long weekend.

Jordanne whips up a smoothie on bike blender for girl scout troop

TreeHugger Called

Nope, unfortunately, not Graham asking for date. Just kidding… must be the long hours working on the new website afflicting me with a warped sense of humor.    Instead, the folks over at the ever popular TreeHugger site (hey guys!) called. They asked us to ship them a Bike Blender so that they can film it for Discovery channel’s and TreeHugger’s Holiday Green Guide they are putting together. Although we haven’t sold any bike blenders yet, we still hope sales will pick up on the updated e Peddler’s Wagon (relaunch very soon, we are in count down mode). We are going to be carrying some really cool attachments (make salsa, hummus, and more!) that can be added to the bike blender. Sounds yummy. Finally Well, have a good weekend folks. Another film day today so posting will probably resume on Sunday. … one more thing. A huge thank you to Todd & Jennifer who have generously offered their time and service to help with going through a new section of the PTF site.   It’s far from complete but your editing has been a big help. Stay tuned for the urban homestead granola recipe (thanks for your patience H in Needles!) That, and more, when we see you right back here on Sunday. 


Change the message to save the planet {Guardian}

Dropping environmental slogans like ‘save the planet’ to focus on ‘intelligent living’ instead would make a big difference, says George Marshall
read more

Do food miles make a difference to global warming? {Reuters UK}

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. local food movement — which used to be elite, expensive and mostly coastal — has gone mainstream, with a boost from environmentalists who reckon that eating what grows nearby cuts down on global warming.
read more

Grey Is The New Green {11Alive}

Grey water is water that has been used, but is still clean enough to be used again. Previously, using grey water is something only committed environmentalists did. Now, it is something we will all have to look at.Showers used to be a place to relax, now we’re being asked to cut them to five minutes and re-use the water.”As my wife says,” offered environmentally aware homeowner Curt Mann, “one thing we’re absolute certain of is that the status quo is not working.”So Curt Mann and his wife installed what’s called a Brac Grey water Recycling System when they renovated their house.
read more

Guess what?   e Peddler’s Wagon stocks greywater recycling systems.   So if you are interesting going grey (sorry, not the hair, I mean) then browse on over and take a look at what’s in stock.


13 PERCENT = The percentage of greenhouse gases created by all trucks, SUVs, cars, airplanes, trains and other transportation. 18 PERCENT = The amount of greenhouse gases created by livestock production.
Source: United Nations
Moral of the story: If you are an average U.S. meat eater, reducing your meat consumption to 2 ounces per day is roughly equivalent to doubling your vehicle’s fuel efficiency, in terms of greenhouse gas reduction.
read more

One of the best food alert newsletters and sites out there.   If you don’t already subscribe, do so. Their emails are worth clogging your inbox. Keep up the good work OCA.

Reminder You’ve read this far, before leaving, don’t forget to comment about the new photo gallery…. thanks

No Comments

  1. Wildside says:

    As to your new photo gallery — actually haven’t taken the time to view it as yet…

    But nice knowing there are all those good examples still awaiting to be seen. As you say, a picture can be worth / (save) a lot of words! (Just wanted to let you know I did read this journal post — most of it, anyway!)

    As to PTF’s site — my preference would be for you to keep things simple and fulfill more of your own dreams, rather than worrying about the rest of us out here in cyberspace. I mostly just come to read what is here on your journal page, but have been visiting e-neighbors again lately; hoping to help stir the pot a little by making a few posts. Unfortunately, don’t have time to read all that is there either! And that doesn’t seem fair to others who are making an effort to post and read.

    All for now, I’d best go & get off this computer soon! But even if spoiled, Blackberry and Fairlight are a delight to see! As is the rest of your animal farm in the city…

  2. Beany says:

    This is what made me contribute to the simpleliving network (simpleliving.net)
    A chart showing what they needed ($14,000 per year) and how much they had collected to date. (picture: http://www.simpleliving.net/images/thermometer_01.gif)
    Then on the discussion forums the administrator broke down the $14,000 into the various components they needed the money for: bandwith, hosting space, etc, etc. Then he further broke it down saying if all registered members paid $15 (I forget the exact amt) they would easily meet their goal. So I contributed money.

    I am a bean counter and nothing motivates me to give money more than to see the breakdown of money goals. How much is the server space going to cost? If you divided up what you needed by the total number of commenters (or some other way of measuring your regular visitors) what is that number? Will you put a little thermometer somewhere prominent on your journal page?

    I’d rather donate money than be asked to pay money for something.

  3. lavonne says:

    A few free photos would be a nice enticement for people to want to see more. $10/mo would be a great way for people like me to make a regular [automatic/Paypal?] donation while getting a nice bonus [photo gallery] in return. I’d suggest offering the option of voluntarily giving more, like charitable fundraisers do. Make it as easy as possible, and you will be able to plan based on subscriptions, the way CSA’s do.

  4. ans says:

    if this is just about the bandwidth problem of too many photos, i would suggest rotating out photos regularly to incorporate the new ones. maybe you could publish a book of the old photos or charge access to photo “archives…”

    as far as the text goes (articles, links, how-tos), i would be disappointed if that became “pay-only”– making comprehensive info available to all, regardless of how much money they can afford, should be a core goal. this stuff should be shared with as many as possible, not hoarded away. therefore if money becomes an issue, ads or “guilting” us into donations would be more acceptable for me personally.

  5. Katie says:

    I appreciate your commitment to sharing your wisdom and knowledge with the world internet community, however; I want to encourage you to make the site simple and focus on your own dreams too….

    What about a simple link to you a flickr or similiar photo hosting site….

    I adore reading your journal and site, but honestly I would rather see you all fulfilling your dreams than trying to work on the site.

  6. David says:

    Was by Pitzer College in Claremont yesterday so stopped by to see their community garden plot. A guy filming for the Sundance channel, http://www.sundancechannel.com/home/ , was there. I mentioned your place which he never heard of. Your farmstead is much nicer than the college garden although I believe its just starting. Just noticed BYU(Brigham Young University) has a media channel, http://www.byub.org/homegrown/ , as well & could possibly be an avenue for exposure? Keep up the tremendous labour of love. Look forward to purusing the photog gallery & aquiring more ideas for my modest community garden plot :).

  7. Sarah says:

    I enjoy seeing the pictures as you go along – but what I would PAY for, and GLADLY, would be descriptions that say things like “Early Girl tomatoes, planted Feb 15, 2007, 16″ apart, string-supported, companion-planted with basil.” That’s a short description that tells me more about how to do it myself, and uses the picture to show what the plants should look like at that stage/variety/planting scenario. And it’d be FABULOUS if the whole thing was searchable by the words in the descriptions. I’d pay for that – because that’s experience. I can make conversions between my local climate and yours – I can’t buy experimentation opportunity in any other way. Offer a few examples for free, so people understand the value.

    How to structure: I’d rather pay either per access, or per year – because there’s not enough change in a month to learn much. I agree with Beany – I’d be more motivated to donate freely if I had an idea of the size of the bucket.

  8. gerry medland says:

    HI everyone,I would like to see you all take a little more time for yourselves.PTF has done so much for so long for all its readers.Knowledge comes with experience and learning,both come at a cost,that is a fact of life in the age we live in.I would be more than happy to be a paying subscriber whatever the cost,we have freedom to choose what we read and watch/view,if we buy a periodical or newspaper we are looking for information,PTF is the foremost provider of informative material for those who genuinely seek it out.If we use PTF as a reference work for our own path,then I believe we should contribute financialy,there is a moral obligation at stake here IMHO.I also feel it is important to keep a donation window for those who wish to contribute as their conscience dictates.YOu Guys and Gals are FANTASTIC!

  9. Lucy says:

    I would say the idea I heard earlier in the journal, of having smaller versions of the pictures (maybe with the watermark) available for free, and having larger versions without the watermark available for a price. AND asking for donations. 🙂

  10. William says:

    While I would not mind paying a subscription fee, I can see where people would have a hard time with it. Just having read the comments above me, I feel their comments are justifyable.
    Anyway, thanks for what is done.

  11. Laurie says:

    Anais and family,
    thank you for sharing your dreams with us, and putting so much energy into helping other folks walk the path too. I visit your journal nearly everyday, and am always excited to read a new post. Even though your climate is much different than mine, it’s so rewarding to compare what you are doing with my own attempts at growing food and building fertility. I don’t post much, but must say I would really miss not hearing from you. That said, I also agree with Katie that you shouldn’t let the website take over your life. I don’t really have any answers, but do know that I’m the kind of person who gets a lot out of books and videos, and refer to these frequently. How about having folks pay for a “library card” to access your archives? Best wishes and good luck!

  12. Ro says:

    I have your journal bookmarked – it is a joy to see your family live like I was raised 40 plus years ago. Having said that I also know what a struggle it is to live as you do – it is hard work. I still carry many of the practices of those early days with me. I hate waste, I love the land and what it brings. My husband and I live simply but have enough. Regarding how to continue – I see nothing with finding commercial sponsors for your website. You control the sponsors’ content – it is a contractual arrangement – structure the contract as a win-win. You give up a little, they give up a little and you both get what you need to grow.

  13. Carol says:

    I also visit your web site every day. In fact, it is my home page! I am in the process of turning my backyard into something on a smaller scale to yours. I would hate to see this information kept from people who do not have money to give. I live in a poor area and can see how much this life style could add value and better health to the poorest people. Helping them to feed themselves at such a low cost and stretching their dollars. I would rather see you keep the donations as donations and not require a monthly payment. I honestly think you might end up getting more money this way.

    You have truly inspired me, but our city recently passed a farm animal act that you can’t keep farm animals in the city. Just when I thought I might have my husband close to being talked into some chickens or ducks!

    Please keep up the good work. I think a book or video (detailing instructions on how you do things)would be more appropiate to charge for money.

    Thanks for your inspiration and good luck!

  14. Becca says:

    I don’t think ads would detract so much from the website if they were only for things you used or would feel good about using yourselves (seeds, gardening supplies, food preservation equipment, manual or high efficiency appliances). I know it’s a difficult line to draw, but it looks like you’re already doing a good job of it with the Peddler’s Wagon.

  15. Michelle says:

    Maybe I’m too long steeped in capitalism but I think ads are actually a great way to monetize the volume of visits you get to this site. A different way to regard advertising is that those who might not be able to afford a direct donation, would now be contributing toward reaching the monetary goal needed to continue operations.
    And from that perspective ads are actually more inclusive: because every reader is a contributor, indirectly.

  16. AH says:

    I regularly review your site and recently sent a donation the old fashioned way via snail mail. I like the idea of reviewing photos, but I am most interested in your lessons learned and “how to” stories; photos can certinly enhance these. There are plenty of books on different “how to” subjects, say “how to” garden or “how to” raise chickens. However, there is very little on how to homestead in an urban environment or how to grow into such a lifestyle given current cosntraints, whether job, family, neighborhood norms, or municipal ordinances.

    As far as your website, I prefer a lean, simple, and to-the-point approach, wih links and references to more detailed info as needed.

    Have you considered a franchise or certification approach to growing other urban homesteads? The subject of a non-profit franchise is briefly discussed on p. 84 of David Bornstein’s book “How to Change the World” -> http://www.howtochangetheworld.org/. Also, have you sought legal advice for protecting your brand or intellectual property?

    Keep up the good work. Thanks.

  17. Hannah says:

    I think that if one of your main concerns is not having unlawfully use photos you should do what some sports photography sites do which is disable the “copy” button for the photos. That way, if people wanted to use the photos, they would have to pay for them, and you would be aware of who is using them. I know that if a monthly fee was charged for access to the photos I would probably not pay, just because I am a student and don’t have money to spend on viewing pictures.

  18. Debbie says:

    Keep up the journal, news links and a smattering of pics as encouragement (Current garden pics compared to where you started are great for us newbies). Purge pics after a year or two. Keep a few seasonal pics from year to year to show growth of your homestead to us newbies.

    Downloadable pics for a charge are nice to have but I wouldn’t pay for them, so don’t waste your resources.

    Keep up the good work. Hope my input helps.

    P.S. Pics of animals are cute and have encouraged me to think about and investigate the future posibility of kepping goats, chickens and/or rabbits (yikes!) No need to go crazy though. How many hundred goat pics did you say you had?

  19. Crystal Sherman says:

    5 or maybe 1 or 2 (i think if you do a membership you should have free portions of the site & that membership should give you access to the full album and…. info older than a month, videos, etc)

    I think you should really review why you are so anti-ad. If it violates fundamental principles… obviously scale down the site to a level that is sustainable with your input and the generous support of readers. Personally I think that your dream for this site would be most sustainable with input from advertising and I think there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a few ads. In fact, I think your pedler’s wagon should have an ad on each of your web sites, showing a rotating product. As far as advertising goes, you could go 1 of 2 routes. 1) only advertise for companies/products you support or 2) advertise for all, and when an ad comes along that you don’t like encourage readers to click the heck out of it thereby sucking marketing money from the enemey 🙂