Self-reliance in the city: One family proves it’s possible
11/05/2017 / By Rita Winters / Comments
Self-reliance in the city: One family proves it’s possible

What does it take to be an urban homesteader? One family in Pasadena, California managed to pull off bringing the country into the city. Around 372 square feet only, this self-sustaining home produces 400 varieties of vegetables, fruits, and edible flowers, totaling 6,000 pounds of food a year! This urban homestead was the brainchild of Jules Dervaes (1947-2016), head of the Dervaes family.

This efficient city farm is managed by the whole Dervaes family. Justin, Anais, and Jordanne are Jules’ three adult children who help with daily gardening. They also have a hand in raising their eight chickens, four ducks, and two goats, which provides them with all the eggs and milk they need. Unfortunately, Jules passed away in December of 2016 due to pulmonary embolism.

Aside from producing most of the food they will ever need, they also extended their self-reliant lifestyle to common utilities such as electricity. With a solar panel on the roof, their monthly electric bill is as low as $12. To save water, they use an ancient farming technique called “clay pot irrigation”. Their car is also environmentally- and economically-friendly, since it runs on bio-diesel, made from vegetable waste donated by restaurants that buy their produce as well. If there is such a thing as a balanced community cycle, you’ll find it begins with their decision to be self-sufficient and environmentally aware.

This Eden, surrounded by concrete and modern technology, flourishes in all its simplicity, and sets a great example for other families around them. Many have taken the “Path to Freedom” seriously, and have started to self-sustain by producing their own fruit and vegetables.


An urban homestead is simply a self-sustaining home in the middle of a city. Society has a way of swaying people away from a natural lifestyle, so homesteading may not be for everyone. This lifestyle may be difficult to imagine but is, in fact, quite achievable. All it takes to have your own urban homestead is to start. Right now. (Related: Amazing homesteading ideas to help you become more self-sufficient.)

If you can follow the basic conservation tips below, you’ll surely love the homesteading lifestyle.

  • Get rid of stuff you don’t need, including rarely used electronics, clothes, and furniture (or re-purpose them!).
  • Start planting a single type of vegetable or herb. If you’re successful, try another type. If you’re unsuccessful, try again.
  • Reduce unnecessary expenses and activities like eating out and window shopping.
  • Reuse or re-purpose trash such as used paper or empty tin cans. Get involved in crafting recyclable materials (which you can actually make money out of).
  • Conserve as much water as you can.

PRO TIP: Flush toilets by pouring in used water with a dipper. This saves more water than by using the built-in flush.

  • Turn off lights, fans, computers, and other electronic gadgets when not in use to save on electric bills. Unplug them when unused for a while.
  • Walk or ride a bicycle instead of a car. Minimize the production of toxic car exhausts.
  • Repair broken items or turn them into something else. Be creative and resourceful.
  • Learn how to sew and mend clothing and other fabric-based items.
  • Cut, dye, and style your own hair, or learn how to love it no matter what it looks like.
  • Embrace simplicity and self-sufficiency.

If you are an independent, hardworking, patient, and resourceful person, you might want to consider starting a self-sustaining lifestyle. Who knows, you might be the next homestead rockstar in your local community!

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