The Dervaes family, besides their exotic name, do something even more exotic. If you take a 30-minute drive from Los Angeles, to Pasadena, California, you’ll pass by this lush backyard overflowing with juicy fruits, vegetables and even see a chicken or two scurrying about. A more refreshing sight, than the standard back-yard pool of an L.A. home.
This green home would belong to the Dervaes, a family of four who grow over 6000 pounds of produce every year, on their tenth-of-an-acre property, eloquently called, the Urban Homestead.1
As part of an effort to manifest and live with an environmental conscience, Patriarch Jules the head of the family, started this farm about three decades ago, to take back the power over his food and show that he need not depend on anyone but himself and his family’s efforts to get food to eat.
Jules and his three kids, have made use of every corner of their backyard to grow a variety of plants, organically, without using chemically induced growth tactics such as pesticides and fertilizers.
During the best seasons, the farm gave rise to around 400 types of plants, but the challenges to such exponential growth would be wildlife scavenging on it, drought, and low-sunlight emissions or blockage, which makes the amount they generate a little whimsical.
Come what may, this family has taken these difficulties into their stride and made the best of this learning curve, to better understand and trust Mother Nature over the GMO’s mass-produced and sold.
Like life, farming has its ups and downs, unlike the 24/7 grocery stores that always have what we need at our very taken-for-granted disposal.
Jules admits, that although organic farming has been challenging, the trick is to let nature be what she is and if crops are compromised they just pull it out and plant another, so it does not spread yet lives on.
Jules and his family eat only the vegetables and fruits from their own farm, be it organic greens, herbs, and the like.
Every week, they also see people and local businesses coming to buy a wooden-crate full of Urban Homestead’s veggies and fruit turning them into gorgeous jams, baked goodies, and even raw honey. Garnering support from these local food markets, they also invite the local community to join them in discovering their own green-thumb and changing their mindset from nature’s fury to nature’s nurture, be it in their family backyard or your own personal one.
Jules explains that wherever you live, be it in an apartment, countryside, matchbox house to a vast expanse of fields, anyone who wants to live an organic lifestyle, connect with nature’s produce and their food, can all do it.
Many small steps from different people, can make a large impact in the grand scheme of things, be it having a shoe-box herb garden or helping the local farmer markets.
This family has discovered a goldmine of knowledge which can enable others to learn and collectively make their own agricultural movement, from the moment they take a bite of an apple they grew themselves or loving the greens they plucked from their own garden.
It will also teach us patience and helps us have a whole new appreciation for the farmers that painstakingly grow and provide us with that broccoli we throw away or oranges we are picky about finishing.
Maybe after watching our own little plant grow for months, then adding it into our cooking, we’d think twice before wasting those veggies or dissing nature.