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Path to Freedom: Pioneer of urban self-sufficiency

Urban Homestead
Urban Homestead
Path to Freedom

With local agricultural regions disappearing in the name of “development” and most of our supermarket produce and foods coming from gigantic centralized operations, the future of food and local sustenance is quite volatile. Yet a glimmer of hope for urban self-sufficiency remains -- a Path to Freedom.

Located in Pasadena a short distance from the 210 freeway and Old Town, Path to Freedom (PTF) is the original urban homestead.

“We’re a whole different world; our triumphs and struggles are so far different from what the majority of Angelinos experience. It may surprise you but we live under a constant dictatorship! Gardening is not a democracy” - PTF

The Dervaes family purchased their 1/5 acre “fixer-upper” lot in a humble part of town during the mid-80s after moving from ten acres of land in rural Florida. Initially, the Dervaes’ only intention was to develop a micro-farm and live in a self-sufficient, low impact manner. By 2001, the farm was such a success that the Dervaes’ decided to add another goal for the homestead - sharing their experience with others by establishing the first ever website devoted to urban homesteading.

“We hoped that by documenting our personal experiences we could offer encouragement to those striving to live a simpler, more self-sufficient lifestyle. Eight years later, is now the largest and most comprehensive urban homesteading website, with more than five million hits per month. We aren’t just writing about the latest eco-practices and products; for more than two decades, we have been living the revolution”. - PTF

Today, the productivity of PTF’s garden is astonishing. With over 350 different vegetables, herbs, fruits and berries yielding up to 6,000 lbs of annual harvest, PTF has truly made the most of their 1/10 acre garden space. From their harvest, PTF satisfies 99% of their produce needs as well as creating breads, cheeses, sprouts, canned goods, and even alcohols and biofuels for their personal use. PTF has a fact sheet on the website highlighting their urban homesteading installments and current projects. This list showcases how PTF is not content with a mere micro-farm; rather, they aspire to rely on the fruits of their own hands to satisfy all of the families’ needs and desires.

In addition to the depth of knowledge available on their website, PTF hosts presentations and workshops, attends eco-events, hosts film screenings, and has their “citified” farm animals available for children’s field trips and demonstrations.

It is no doubt that Jules Dervaes, founder of PTF, did not belong in Los Angeles upon his arrival nearly 30 years ago. However, over time our fast-paced, image-conscious region has come to embrace and revere the “old path” lifestyle thanks to the ideals of this humble farmer/family man.


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