Living on an Urban Homestead: An Interview with Jules Dervaes

The urban homestead is a special kind of city farm. This example from Pasadena, California, shows that urban self-sufficiency can be more than a dream.

| October 2015

  • Dervaes House
    The Dervaes’ front yard, which has been transformed to feed people, livestock and wildlife.
    Photo by Jules Darvaes
  • Dervaes House Old
    The Dervaes children in the 1980s on the front lawn of the house.
    Photo by Jules Darvaes
  • Dervaes Garden
    The Dervaes’ garden grows a sustainable amount of fruit and vegetables.
    Photo by Jules Darvaes
  • Clay Oven
    The clay oven sits in the Dervaes backyard, reducing energy consumption on the suburban homestead.
    Photo by Jules Darvaes
  • Solar Cooker
    A solar cooker is another way the Dervaes family reduces energy consumption.
    Photo by Jules Darvaes
  • Edible Cities
    “Edible Cities,” by Judith Anger, Immo Fiebrig and Martin Schnyder, will help you to grow fruit, herbs, vegetables and mushrooms in small spaces in the most ecological way possible.
    Cover courtesy Permanent Publications

  • Dervaes House
  • Dervaes House Old
  • Dervaes Garden
  • Clay Oven
  • Solar Cooker
  • Edible Cities

Want to grow food, but have nothing larger than a balcony, windowsill or wall? Edible Cities (Permanent Publications, 2013), by Judith Anger, Immo Fiebrig and Martin Schnyder, is a gardening book with a difference. The book shows you why the urban landscape can be a great place for permaculture. This excerpt, which features an interview with suburban homesteader Jules Dervaes, is from Chapter 5, “Designer Shoes Off —Work Boots On.”

Buy this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Edible Cities.

Idea: Jules Dervaes

Place: Detached residence outside Los Angeles, next to the Pasadena Freeway intersection, California, USA



Project: Urban homestead, 800 square meters with 400 square-meter garden

Jules Dervaes is a family man. In a previous life he was a hippy – and now he is hip, as his youngest daughter Jordanne puts it. His first experiments in selfsufficiency go back to New Zealand in the early 1970s, when he also learnt to keep bees. He returned to the US in 1975 and settled in Florida, before he and his family moved to Pasadena in 1984 to buy the land they still live on today.






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