Living off the grid, right in the middle of it.
January 26, 2007 4:24 PM   Subscribe

The Dervaes Institute is an 'off the grid' homestead in Pasadena, CA and supports 4 adults full time. It also produces 3 tons of produce annually. It's all run from solar panels and biodiesel. Over 350 different plants and a handful of farm animals thrive on a 1/5 acre lot, not too far from the middle of Los Angeles. An 'urban homestead' indeed!
posted by drstein (10 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Yesterday the L.A. Times had an interesting article about the Dervaes family homestead.
posted by ericb at 4:31 PM on January 26, 2007

I'm just glad not many people in LA burn wood for their heat. Could you imagine the air quality?

Also, on the "off the grid" angle, they use scrap wood for heat and waste cooking oil for fuel; this lifestyle is entirely dependent on the urban infrastructure around them.

Erm. I guess this is pretty cool, actually. I'm just feeling negative today.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:40 PM on January 26, 2007

Excellent post; thanks.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:47 PM on January 26, 2007

That's sooooo cool, even if their photo galleries are annoying and hard to work.

Three tons of produce of from 1/5 of an acre is incredible, but way more work than I or most folks are willing to invest. What makes me really excited about this is that, if the can get three tons off 1/5 of an acre, how much can I get out of the 10' x 15' garden in my backyard? And how much can my friend who's stuck in an apartment get out of the planters on her porch?

Terroir meets condos. How is that not awesome?
posted by stet at 6:05 PM on January 26, 2007

I've heard about this place before. Thanks for the link!
posted by shoepal at 9:08 PM on January 26, 2007

I'm just feeling negative today.

And me. I've been reading a bit about this sort of thing lately, with an eye to 'going rural' a bit myself, and I've decided I prefer the homesteader who just does it, rather than the ones who boast about it.

Mostly because there's entirely too much boasting.

"Great goals, however, come at a great price."

Yes, they're much better than everybody else!

...way more work than I or most folks are willing to invest...

And money.
posted by kmennie at 5:54 AM on January 27, 2007

Are they actually off the grid? It looks like they're trying to be energy-neutral, which is a bit more useful in an urban location than having a full solar/battery/inverter rig.

It also can't be that urban an area if they can keep chickens. Everywhere I've lived has had specific bylaws against the keeping of poultry.
posted by scruss at 7:56 AM on January 27, 2007

In Seattle and Eugene, OR, it's legal to keep chickens in the city but not roosters. There's a really ugly website about raising chickens here.
posted by stet at 8:43 AM on January 27, 2007

You can keep chickens in Manhattan, just not roosters. I think in Brooklyn as well.

I really like what the Dervaes Institute is doing, and I like that they have a comprehensive website about their activities. I enjoy a lot of urban homesteading activities myself and most of my learning about energy-saving techniques, frugality, and old-timey energy-saving technology comes from from internet research and websites like the Dervaes Insitute's.

Ironically, I've found that since moving to NYC from Michigan a year ago, it's easier to save energy in a large city than a small one, mostly due to not driving a car. While I would love to have my rural organic farm in Vermont, at this point in my life I'm not ready for that kind of social isolation. Urban homesteading is a nice in-between lifestyle and it saves a lot of money.

My favorite urban homesteading tools: products. I have the WonderWasher and the spin dryer and they both work like a dream. The washing machine requires no external power (you turn a hand crank for 2 min. per five pounds of laundry) and the spin dryer extracts enough water from the laundry that the clothes are dry several hours after hanging. Not having to haul my cart down four stories to Crazy Hatian Lady Laundromat? Priceless.

Earthboxes. I haven't tried them myself yet but everyone raves about these. Now it's just a matter of finding a place to put them! I'm still looking for a community garden site close enough to me that I could reasonably ride my bike out there to water every day.
posted by Sidthecat at 11:39 AM on January 27, 2007

In Seattle and Eugene, OR, it's legal to keep chickens in the city but not roosters.

Yeah, there's a family down the street from my house with several chickens. (They have a rooster, too, but apparently no one's complained and/or rooster violations are very low on the law enforcement priority list.)
posted by lovecrafty at 1:26 PM on January 27, 2007

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