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About our Farm and Farming Practices

The Urban Homestead city farm is a small family business established in 1995 by Jules Dervaes Jr. in Pasadena, California. Our growing specialty is in unique, rare and heirloom varieties of vegetables, edible flowers, and fruit. Although this restricts the amount of produce we provide, we specialize in quality, not quantity.

The Dervaes family have always been gardeners with a generational 'green thumb,' but it was a hobby of pleasure and for feeding the family. We lived simply and sustainably on our Urban Homestead. However, when the severe California drought of the 1990s hit, Jules Dervaes, Jr. was faced with either paying higher bills or conserving water. So Jules ripped out our moisture-challenged front lawn, mulched it thickly to smother the persistent pest of Bermuda grass and sprinkled wildflower seeds everywhere. And then came the infamous year of the 'El Nino' weather phenomenon, 1995. Our yard blossomed with mounds of nasturtiums and became a lush blaze of color. Nurtured by rich soil and soaking rains, the nasturtiums flourished with large and prolific blooms. A feature in a local newspaper about a downtown Pasadena tea shop caught Jules' eye and stirred his imagination. Edible flowers were used not only for decoration but also for taste and interest. Surrounded in his yard by the very flowers extolled in the article, Jules had an idea. We contacted the tea shop, offered our blooms along with the sales pitch of right-off-the plant kind of freshness and quality and, by the end of the day, we had our first client. Our produce business was launched.

Today, the Urban Homesteads serves many quality restaurants and caterers in Pasadena and the surrounding area. Our produce and flowers have been found on tables at celebrity parties, charity functions and exclusive events. As our garden flourished, we moved beyond gardening for food and profit and began a public enterprise that evolved from our personal commitment to earth stewardship. This sustainable journey, documented on our website http://www.urbanhomestad.org has garnered worldwide attention since being publicly launched in 2001.

The Urban Homestead utilizes organic fertilizers and natural gardening methods, as well as low-impact preparation of our produce. All water that we use to wash the fruit, produce or flowers is recycled back into the garden. Any product that is not up to our standards to sell to our customers is consumed in our next meal, fed to the animals or composted. We store our produce in reusable containers and recycle or compost other waste such as used paper towels.

Our refrigerator is powered by our solar panels during the day and by city green energy at night. Your order is delivered to your business either in a car fueled by homebrewed biodiesel or, better yet, sometimes by zero-carbon fuel transportation-a bicycle.

In addition, we strive to reduce the amount of packaging that goes into packing our produce. If you have boxes, bags, egg cartons - please recycle and exchange them with your next order.

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