Living off the land may be a dream for many, but the work could be a new reality for Pasadenans considering a green lifestyle.

Urban homesteaders Anais Dervaes and her family put in many hours raising vegetables, animals and actively conserving resources on their Pasadena property. The family has been living green for years, and is opening up their energy efficient home for tours to impart their practical tips with the public.

Dervaes is a second-generation urban homesteader, who learned the tricks of the trade like growing vegetables and animals and going solar from her father, who passed away in 2016.

“Urban homesteading is doable for people,” Dervaes said. “You might not be able to grow a garden, but you can put in solar panels. We recycle, we have a laundry-to-landscape greywater system. We grow our own food and we want to teach the community about how to live like this. We want people to come by and get educated about the social and environmental implications of our lifestyle.”

For Dervaes, she was born into the live off the land lifestyle. Her father was Jules Dervaes, an early adopter of the urban homestead lifestyle, who passed away in 2016.

“I was born into this lifestyle so I used to think everyone lived like this,” Anais Dervaes said. “After college my dad was looking for a meaningful life. In 1972 he emigrated to New Zealand and that’s where I was born and he homesteaded there with my mom, Mignon. So we’ve lived like this. 

While a college student, Dervaes drifted away from the urban homestead lifestyle, but subsequently studied up on urban homesteading and took up the cause herself. These days she and her brother Justin live in the house and sister Jordanne also gives the tours. The family offers once a month tours now and has an internship program.

The family grows a range of vegetables in big quantity as well as animals. And there are animals but not to wind up on the dinner table. 

“There are chickens, but they’re not there to be eaten,” Dervaes said. “The animal element is vital for the soil. The chickens are growing soil for us. When we clean out their compounds twice a year and we put it all in the raised vegetable beds. They eat the greens from the garden, they eat our extra rice and wheat grass. They’re spoiled.” 

So for those who don’t want to put in all the efforts to grow so much, there are other tips.

“We all consume something, but be conscious of that consumption for your health and the well being of the planet,” Dervaes said. “And conservation doesn’t cost anything. Reduce your water, reduce your shower. Buy second-hand. ”

Video courtesy the Urban Gardener