Our friend Pete Jalbert sent us a link to a most interesting website — Path To Freedom, built and maintained by a Pasadena, California family that farms on what it calls its "ordinary city lot" which, to me, means the lot upon which their home stands.

At Path to Freedom, the Dervaes family has steadily transformed their ordinary city lot in Pasadena, California, into an integral urban homestead.

The yard has over 350 varieties of edible and useful plants. The homestead’s productive 1/10 acre organic garden now grows over 6,000 pounds (3 tons) of produce annually. This provides fresh vegetables and fruit for the family’s vegetarian diet and a source of income.

That’s right. An organic garden on land around a private home. Los Angeles is, of course, quite urban and is surrounded by zillions of little suburban areas of which Pasadena is one — but don’t take that to mean that L.A. is wall-to-wall concrete. It’s not. We have lots of canyons and valleys and wooded areas and beaches (think: very expensive areas) but the idea of a family founding a little bit of agricultural heaven on the land around its home is … well, fresh and inspiring. Thing is, they’ve also made their organic gardening a business:

The family operates a viable and lucrative home business, Dervaes Gardens, that supplies area restaurants and caterers with salad mix, edible flowers, heirloom variety tomatoes and other in-season vegetables. The income earned from produce sales offsets operating expenses and is invested in appropriate technologies, such as solar panels, energy efficient appliances, and biodiesel processor, to further decrease our homestead’s reliance on the earth’s non-renewable resources.

Well done. Really well done. I’m more than a little surprised at the sheer size of their produce (6,000 pounds or three tons is quite a load), but it’s inspiring. As part of their mission is to share, their website contains quite a bit of information, if you’re in the mind to do a little organic gardening of your own.

But the most important issue is "why"? Why would you grow your own food?


Path to Freedom at YouTube

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9 Comments for "Organic Gardening in Pasadena"

  1. George Vigil

    This is a great idea! One would need a place to buy seeds that are NOT genetically modified, such as Whole Foods grocery store. A great solution for improving one’s health! It bypasses the food processors. One could even freeze the veggies or can the fruits — minus the white sugar. No pesticides. No preservatives. One hundred percent nutrition.

  2. Diane Vigil

    You’re right. And there’s a lot to be said for eating locally-grown vegetables, which sometimes are even tastier than what you get in an organic market.

    I’d guess that’s because they’re picked when they’re ripe.

  3. Lynn Cameron

    This is doubly impressive to me because I’ve attempted to grow my own organic vegetables for 25 years here in the Northern NY mountains and have concluded I’d starve if forced to depend upon my own farming talents. It is true what they say about location, location, location, but I applaud these folks because I know the dedication and actual hands-on work involved that feeding even your own family entails – let alone sharing with others. We can only hope that this becomes a serious trend – kind of like the Victory Gardens of WWII.

    I’ve also recently learned that rooftop gardening is becoming extremely popular among high-rise dwellers particularly in Chicago. All that greenery can only help with air pollution, too.

  4. Diane Vigil

    Interesting, Lynn. Is it a matter of the temperatures in your area?

    I’d seen a rooftop gardening article as well. And this particular Pasadena family — it’s surprising just how much produce they’re getting out of a little urban plot, part of which is taken up by the house.

    Can’t wait until it’s our turn to farm. :)

  5. Lynn Cameron

    It’s pretty much unfeasible to attempt a vegetable garden in the midst of a northern conifer forest for a number of reasons. Thanks for asking. In addition to the abbreviated growing season and early frosts one expects – here’s my own list knowing others probably have more.

    1. The ample rainfall might preclude the need to water the plants a lot, but it also means a lot less sunshine.
    2. Evergreen trees plus Sugar Maples and several varieties of Birches provide not only a lot of shade from the precious sunlight but an extensive root system that creates with leaf mulch their major growth requirement of ACIDIC soil.
    3. Most vegetables and grains as well as lots of fruits require an ALKALINE soil to flourish.
    4. Damp, cool, lakeside woodlands are a haven for airborne molds and other fungus that blows onto the crops – this rots the leaves and the fruit of many plants.

    And, as you might suspect by the above, LOCAL organic produce is limited in variety as well as seasonally. Farmer’s Markets are lately becoming more numerous, and I’m so grateful to have one just 3 miles away. It started up last summer, was enormously successful and offers local produce from gardeners and farmers from June to October.

    I’ll be busy at a booth there this coming summer as a collection depot for weekly online pre-selection/orders of gourmet prepared organic food. See: http://www.lodgeonlakeclear.com/adirondackcuisine.html if you want to know about the kitchen they’ll be coming from.

  6. Diane Vigil

    Thanks, Lynn. Pretty interesting, as we were just looking at a property surrounded by conifers. Guess that won’t work out too well for organic farming.

  7. Julia

    The Dervae’s Garden is an inspiration and challange for all those who have large backyard lots. My brother in Brownsville Texas has a hudge yard and I bet it could sustain a great garden!

  8. Diane Vigil

    Hello, Julia. I agree. I’m surprised at just how much produce they’re able to get from a normal lot of land, which I’d guess is likely to be less than, say, at acre. Pretty inspiring!

  9. Diane Vigil

    I’ve just added a link to Path to Freedom’s page at YouTube. I think you’ll find it most illuminating.

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