Loco for locavores

Jules DerVaes, a California-based pioneer of the urban-homesteading movement, will join local locavores for a local-food potluck this Saturday, Nov. 14, beginning at 12:30 p.m. Everyone is invited to bring a dish to this event, which is co-sponsored by Natural Food Choices and will include a screening of a documentary about DerVaes’ work, Homegrown Revolution.

For more information about the gathering, which will take place at Warren Wilson College’s Sage Café, see the press release below. Note: reservations are requested; see the bottom of the release for contact details.

— Jon Elliston, managing editor



Natural Food Choices and Warren Wilson College co-sponsor a ‘Locavore’ Pot Luck and Documentary screening of ‘HomeGrown Revolution’ on November 14, 2009 at Warren Wilson College.

A Family in the City…

An Urban Homestead…

21st Century Bio-Pioneers Forging a New Frontier

Asheville, NC – October 30, 2009 American Gothic, the famous painting by Grant Wood, depicting 20th Century America became an American icon. Today, Urban Homesteaders have traded the pitch fork for a trowel and are breaking free. There is a new awakening taking place. The Garden Revolution and the HomeGrown Revolution has begun.

During World War I and II food was in short supply and people planted “Victory Gardens” to furnish their family’s fruit and vegetable needs. At the height of the Wars, nearly 40% of vegetable produce was grown in the back yards of ordinary citizens. It was a way for civilians to help fight the war at home.

Today, food has become a problem. The way it is grown with chemical fertilizers and pesticides, picked early because it has to travel many miles to retail outlets, not allowed to ripen on the vine – all contribute to the denaturing of food’s nutritional value. There is a radical change taking place and people are breaking free without really going anywhere.

Revolutions start with small steps. Bio-pioneer Jules DerVaes says: “The first step to total empowerment comes when people are able to survive ‘thinking outside the box’ and ‘outside the corporate structure’.” The 21st Century version of ‘Victory Gardens’ are a giant step towards the next revolution – The Garden Revolution. The HomeGrown Revolution.

Radical change is taking root. And leading the way in the urban homesteading movement is Jules DerVaes and his family in Pasedena, Ca. Surrounded by a major freeway and densely urban setting in downtown Pasedena, the DerVaes family have transformed their 1/5th acre lot into an organic and sustainable micro-farm. They harvest nearly 6,000 pounds of organic food yearly on their 1/10th acre garden. And have over 350 varieties of fruits, vegetables, herbs and berries on their property. 95% of their front lawn is totally edible. They also harvest their own honey and raise their own chickens and ducks for eggs. Their two goats produce raw milk and are great composting assets. The DerVaes’ found food security in their own backyard.

Wherein ‘Locavore’ established the 100 mile rule, Jules endorces the 100 ft challenge. His salad travels less than 25 ft to the table. There’s nothing like a fresh salad picked minutes before eating. DerVaes encourages everyone to start growing something where ever they are. The DerVaes grow most of their own produce and sell their ‘daily fresh’ greens and edible flowers to local Chefs who take pride in offering daily ‘straight from the garden to the table’ salads.

This Urban Homestead is based on holistic agrarian growing principles, which affect the work ethic, management and stewardship of the growing grounds. They grow only seasonally with the natural rhythms in harmony with nature. DerVaes does not believe in trying to unnaturally force food to grow in the garden through greenhouses, hydroponics or other unnatural methods.

He believes “Growing your own food is recession-proof. You don’t have to worry about the prices. When you depend on other people, you become powerless.” Independence is true freedom.

But food is only part of it as the DerVaes’ have solar panels on the roof and outdoor showers where the water’s warmed by direct sunlight. The fig and Banana trees and all the flowers are watered by all water that is used on the Homestead. It never goes into the sewer. The latest money-saver is the family diesel car; but they never buy fuel. Justin DerVaes makes the fuel out of waste vegetable oil that he collects from local restaurants. Gas costs them a dollar a gallon. This family has already begun living the change that many suggest is needed to combat global warming. They live off the Energy Grid.

From the mid-1980’s when the DerVaes’ set out to create an urban homestead and live a self-sufficient, low-impact life in the heart of the city to today where their organic permaculture garden supplies them with food year-round – their ‘urban homestead’ now enjoys a dramatic degree of independence, with ever-decreasing environmental impact.

In 2001, the DerVaes named their homegrown venture ‘Path To Freedom’ and created the first ever website devoted to urban homesteading. Eight years later, PathToFreedom.com is now the largest and most comprehensive urban homesteading website, with more than 5 million hits per month. The family’s real-life experiences is what makes the site unique. This family is not just writing about the latest eco-practices and products. For more than two decades they have been living ‘The Revolution’. Their daily blog, ‘Little Homestead in the City’ chronicles their first-hand struggles and joys, successes and defeats on their pioneering journey at their highly productive micro-farm.

Jules takes Environmental Stewardship very seriously. In 2006, DerVaes Gardens, a family business established in 1995 by Jules, received a Greenopia Guide Four Leaf award of achievement in recognition of its high level of commitment to sustainability and green practices.

The DerVaes’ story is told in their self-produced documentary ‘HomeGrown Revolution”. They are pioneering a journey towards self sufficiency, one step at a time at their original modern urban homestead. The film has been featured in international film festivals in Greece, Italy and India as well as winning Green Awards in Film Festivals throughout the US.

Natural Food Choices and Warren Wilson College is sponsoring a ‘Locavore’ Pot-Luck and the screening of ‘HomeGrown Revolution’ on Saturday, November 14. Reservations are required. RSVP e-mail : NaturalFoodChoicesEvents@gmail.com for details and confirmation.

Contact: Maria Parrino,

NaturalFoodChoices@gmail.com 562-508-7428

[Photo is of Buncombe county resident Maria Parrin, visiting with the DerVaes family, Eco-pioneers in Pasedena Calif. (Left – Right, Justin, Anais, Maria, Jordanne, Jules)]






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About Jon Elliston
Former Mountain Xpress managing editor Jon Elliston is the senior editor at WNC magazine.

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