In the quiet suburbs of Pasadena California about a half hours drive from LA, a relatively miniature family farm sits in a nook between three freeways and unassumingly embodies a sustainable dream for the future and indeed, the present. For the past 10 years a family named theDervaes has operated an incredibly successful and vibrant urban homestead thatmakes the impossible seem like a pinch. Echoing the classic Laura Ingalls Wilder autobiography Little House on the Prairie, the amazingly diverse and productive homestead has been dubbed Little Homestead in the City.
A family of only four,the Dervaes grow 350+ different fruits, vegetables, herbs, berries, and more ononly 1/10 of an acre of land. That means66’ x 66’ of growing space. The Little Homestead in the City also boasts honeybees, chickens, and ducks (for eggs) as well as other animals, though no mean production happens on this homestead as the family is vegetarian. The considerably small property contains their home,out-buildings, and a porch which is used as a community market to sell the harvested crops. This amazing farm produces 6,000+ pounds of organic food every year.
Beyond providing all thefood for the families personal consumption and needs, the family reaches salesof more than $20,000 a year and this includes the sale of organic crops. Edibleflowers, and herbs, with some of their buyers being local restaurants andbusinesses. The homestead hosts an array of classes and events which serve to educate the community and those interested in the organic homestead revolution as well as generate cash flow beyond crop yields.
“Together we can ignitea revolution of spirit that will truly change our world for the better.” ~Jules Dervaes
SowingThe Seeds Of Love
Bringing it back tofamily farms is truly a traditional way of life- perhaps the only truly Americantradition there is. For a family toremain integrated in operating such a dynamic system is the epitome of a strongfamily structure. Not only does theurban homesteading and family farming movement put the power of food back intothe hands of the people, it also helps to re-weave the fibers of the family andcommunity fabric that holds everyone together.
This sentiment ofempowerment, cooperation, and natural earth-given sustenance has sent out aclear signal in recent years and is proliferating across the globe in countlessand constantly multiplying projects all on the same essential mission- put yourhands in the soil and eat! Food raisedin homesteads feeds the whole community.
“In Denver, Colorado, Gardens for Growing Healthy Communities istransforming “garbage lots” in the city’s poorest neighborhoods into celestialgarden spots. Crime rates drop when beauty arrives, and that’s a fact.
In the U.S. the numberof small farms and organic permits is as astonishing as it is resourceful.There are currently nearly 2 million small farms in America, which make up morethan 90% of all U.S. farms. Working in concert with the farmers, there are9,000 Farmers Markets in the states with annual sales exceeding $1 billion.
In Australia, farmsproduce 93% of the total volume of food consumed in Australia; 60% of the foodraised is exported and helps feed 40 million people around the globe every day.In Queensland, agriculture occupies 81% of the state, and in Tasmania 24% ofthe land is used for agriculture.”
Cashing in on Specialty Crops
Forsmaller properties aiming at simpler and more confined operations, specialtycrops are definite money magnets in the food industry. Elephant garlic or certain mushrooms are greatexamples as they are both common culinary ingredients and also used in thefinest restaurants. Wakeup-world.com notes,
“Elephantgarlic retails for $8 and $6 wholesale per pound, with an average yield around15,000 pounds per acre. Word is that tiny farms can gross $45,000 per yearraising garlic in a half acre backyard or nursery.
Mushrooms are always a hit and can be grownindoors. A 10′ x 10′ garden space could bring a grower $18,000 annually as asupplier for their local markets.
A recentuniversity extension service study found 760 families in one rural countymaking a decent living with specialty crops on plots averaging 3 acres. At theend of the day there is a plethora of food that is raised on tiny farms feedingthe masses these days.”
Increasingthe amount of citizens who are producing any amount of natural and organic foodat their own home or even a community garden project targets so many challengesat once. In recent years there has beena total illumination of the genetically modified foods in our food supply andthe questionable standards of even government organic regulation offices. Oneway to know for sure how the crops are managed is to have your own hands in thesoil.
Earlierin the history of the country, about 85% of people were farmers. There’s a start contrast to today where alarge percentage of us don’t know where our last meal originated for sure orall the hands that have touched it.
Starting a Farm or Homestead
Cornell University has compiled and makes availabledecades of information that provide all the factual knowledge necessary to plana farming operation based on climate, plot size, etc.
Wakeup-world.comsuggest asking the important questions before getting started, “What are the goals?Carefully map out the crop selection and all materials that will be needed.More importantly, spend time on an in-depth study of environmental concerns forthe farming area.
The firstsuggestion is to always start small and literally grow with the farm along theway. Getting back to basics, working the land, and watching the fruits of ourlabors materialize before our eyes will be challenging, but might be thespiritual experience of a lifetime as well.”