I've been meaning to start this blog for quite some time, but recent events have pushed my publish date up quite a bit. Here is the story of how this little spot of earth became our urban homestead:
My husband and I bought our 1875 fixer upper in the heart of our city, in an industrial section of town two years ago. Before this, we had rented for years and had always grown plants and veggies in large pots which we lugged from rental to rental, waiting for the day when they would find their final resting place in the warm rich soil of "home." Our house was a foreclosure and we got an incredible deal on the place, including 1/10 of an acre of land...LAND!! When we first surveyed the property we saw that the back fence had an empty lot behind it. As soon as we found out it was part of the property it was all over; we would buy this place, we would plant a garden, we would grow our own veggies and have a chicken coop, and greenhouse in our urban homestead. That's exactly what happened. The blood, sweat and tears we spent getting this homestead as we waited impatiently for the bank to process the paperwork, (4 agonizing months of waiting), was completely worth it when we saw the amazing results our first spring:
The master urban homesteader said, "We plan to be fully sustainable for greens within three years." Well, we're very close to hitting that goal, as we speak. Many of our goals have already been reached: greenhouse - check, raised beds - check, bunny hutch - check, herb garden - check, wormy dark compost - check, chicken coop - almost check! In the age of commercialism and capitalism we are proud to say that we can own our own land, plant our own produce and control what goes into the soil that grows that produce, and live healthier, happier, more sustainable lives. All of the structures in our homestead come from reclaimed materials: lumber, windows, wire, etc. We get to control what comes into our garden and what goes out. We have our very own little utopia in the city, right smack dab in middle class America.
Thus far we have 11 raised beds, a greenhouse, a rockin compost, 3 apple trees, 1 fig tree, a bunny hutch, blueberries, raspberries, and an almost completed chicken coop!
Our dream was unfortunately threatened this week when some of our biggest urban homestead heros made a shocking decision. The Dervaes family of the famous Pasadena urban homestead decided to trade mark the words "urban homestead" and "urban homesteading." Cries of fury were heard throughout the urban homestead community and blogosphere as people realized that the grass roots community they grew to love was simply becoming yet another consumer looking to gain a buck. I had joined the Dervaes family facebook page just a few weeks ago. Yesterday things took a drastic turn when they posted that they were receiving death threats on their fb page. People starting speaking up about what was really going on - that the Dervaes were asking people to pull blogs, and removing people's fb pages containing the terms without contacting them. Their page became flooded with urban homestead commenters who refused to back down from the issue. People discovered that the words had been in print long before the Dervaes bought them. In the midst of the whole drama the thought crossed my mind, "Maybe we should start a fb page to get the words which define our community back." So, I did it. By the end of the night our page had 1000 members!! People started banning together by the hundreds to defend and lay claim to the word that defines movement, lifestyle and community. By blog, tweet, boingboing, you name it: the word has spread like a wild fire...or a large thriving organic garden.
The message we're sending out is loud and clear: You cannot trade mark the words that define who we are. We are a community, life style, counter-culture, independent American spirited people who will NOT allow our life to be branded by any person or corporation! We've worked hard to live our lives "off the grid", to grow our own produce, to till our own land, raise our own livestock, and we refuse to bow to any corporation! Ahem.... We're not backing down, and we've only just begun.
So that's the story of our little urban homestead, and how the biggest current urban homesteading facebook page Take Back Urban Home-steading(s)
came into existence, which is now over 2000 by the way.
We were also in the LA Weekly
I love you guys and are so very proud of you! Tell Ron I think he rocks for being so resourceful!ReplyDelete
WELL SAID!! Subscribing!!ReplyDelete
AMEN!!! Fantastic post! I have long be an admirer of the Dervaes family and have enjoyed all the documentaries and interviews I have seen with them. But this has me infuriated! I am not an official urban homesteader (yet) but I one day hope to be completely (or at least mostly) self-sufficient!ReplyDelete
Thank you for starting this blog and I look forward to reading more of your posts!
I am just in awe of the URBAN HOMSTEADING community today! I am in awe of you and the passion that made this happen! Right on!ReplyDelete
Thanks ladies!! Heidi - Life is coming out of all of this which is incredible to me! We're an even closer more powerful community than ever before. :)ReplyDelete
Just added you to my blog readers! Good luck with this and envious of your great achievements with your urban homestead!ReplyDelete
I had to laugh when I read the article, "Dervaes did note that they didn't trademark "homestead" or "sustainability" and that people are free to use the trademarked terms, so long as they note the trademark with proper credit given to the Dervaes family."...Proper credit...like they came up with the term or something?!?ReplyDelete
Found you guys on the FB Take Back Urban Homesteading page and am following now. Love the blog.ReplyDelete
Agreed! Fantastic post and must say that your beds look amazing!ReplyDelete
you have a beautiful place!ReplyDelete
Sounds wonderful. Our 2/3 urban homestead has 65 fruit trees, 100 small fruits, 50 hazelnuts, lots of vegies, culinary and medicinal herbs, many flowers, bees, ducks, rabbits, 4 ponds (so far), a huge greenhouse, a root cellar, a 10,000 gallon ferrocement rainwater tank, solar to produce more than we use and at least 300 species of plants....and that's the short list. We've only been working this site for 4 years. Imagine what we'll do in a few more. Urban Homesteaders unite!ReplyDelete
Love the blog!ReplyDelete
You tell 'em urbanhomesteadmama! :-)
Thanks so much for all of the responses and for following!!ReplyDelete
April - thanks for starting the FB page and thereby introducing me to the incredibly kind and passionate UH community. I just have containers on a condo deck but will have more when I too get land. Yet I feel like a member in spirit if not as much in practice.ReplyDelete
What a positive thing to come out of this for all of us! We are connected now in a way we might never have been. And that we will always have.
I'm not on Facebook (professional reasons) but I am behind you 100%. We recently moved froma truly urban homestead- a house in town with a tiny lot to a fixer-upper on 5 acres. I'm in heaven. But there is so much to do.ReplyDelete
Thanks for all you have accomplished
Mary - I'm so glad to hear that you have connected to the UH community! I agree, this has brought us all together and it's amazing.ReplyDelete
fullfreezer - Good luck with your new urban homestead! I'm sure it will be really great.
Small homestead at home and have to board my small herd of cattle at a farm down the street, since I am a "landless farmer". A different kind of urban/rural situation. Its important to stay flexable. You have done a fabulous job on FB getting the real info out. I have been on the edge of my seat reading everything the past few days!! Thank you for all you do to EDUCATE!!ReplyDelete
Drop in and visit the herd when you have a chance:
Thanks for the encouragement Janis!!ReplyDelete
I hadn't heard about this whole issue until now but honestly, although it's very sad I can't say I'm surprised. I used to be a big fan of the Dervaes family, but after following their blog for a long time I started to feel turned off by how commercial it felt. Now this. How ridiculous for them to be owning the rights to a term they did not themselves coin.ReplyDelete
Janis - It's sad for all of us. I'm glad we're finding support among one another though in the midst of all of this.ReplyDelete
I grew up on an acre w/parents raised on farms, & have always had a garden n compost heap, save a brief stint in college. I currently have several raised beds, an herb garden complete w olive, tea camellia & true bay, plus berries, a grape, fig & several fruit trees on a 50x100 sq ' urban lot.ReplyDelete
In the 70s my (former) hubby would drive around the Willamette Valley farmland & deplore the lack of kitchen gardens! The pendulum has swung & many folks are now "growing their own" - inc those farm families!
Thanks for reclaiming the term!