It seems almost impossible to grow six thousand pounds of food from one tenth of an acre of land in Downtown Los Angeles, but the Dervaes family pulled it off, and continues to do so!
To be precise, the Dervaes have raised approximately 900 chickens and 1,000 duck eggs, produced 25 pounds of honey, grown 4,300 pounds of vegetables, as well as an amount of seasonal fruit they’ve lost count of.
The family lives on a 4,000 square-foot residence just 15 minutes away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. On their property, the Dervaes’ grow food for themselves, and sells organic produce directly from their front porch. They pull in about $20,000 doing so.
The family uses every square inch of land to grow produce and raise their livestock. They also live almost completely off the grid – equipment used to grow the organic food is either solar-powered or operated by hand. As such, their utility bills are capped at approximately $12.00/month!
The Dervaes’ are also environment-friendly, and mindful not to burn fossil fuels. Even the family car is powered through bio-diesel generated from processed cooking fat, which is delivered by restaurants happy to be rid of (what they see as) waste.
The farm was developed by Patriarch Jules 30 years ago, as he wanted to re-acquire ownership of his land and the food it produced. He also wanted to cultivate a more grounded environmental awareness in the process.
“Farming is an up-and-down journey.” Jules told MindBodyGreen in the interview. “In these days of 24/7 and conveniences at our fingertips, growing your own food makes you appreciate and understand the energy and efforts that go into bringing food from farm to table.”
Jules and his three kids have mobilized every inch of their land over the decades to grow hundreds of greenery species—all of which are organically maintained without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
During peak times, the farm in the family’s backyard can store up to 400 different kinds of plants. However, conditions like urban wildlife, drought and shadows from nearby houses and trees oscillate that amount.
That said, the Dervaes’ are prepared for the challenges they face to grow food. The family has learned that nature tends to fix what they can’t.
Jules and his kids cull most of their vegetarian diet directly from the farm, and share greens, organic herbs and fruits with other residents in the Los Angeles area, who are more than happy to support the local organic food business.
The family conserves their produce, eat seasonally, and provide local restaurants with requested organics to make specialty meals. The income generated supports the Dervaes’, and gives them income to buy the food they are unable to grow themselves.
There are other challenges that come with their farming lifestyle, such as pests eager to taste what the land grows, and periods of drought brought on by climate change. Nonetheless, much like the Dervaes’ came up with a way to grow their own food, run their own company and save hundreds in utility costs, the family is confident in finding solutions to the current obstacles they face.