A friend, who recently transformed the backyard of her house into a vegetable garden, convinced me to join her for an event at the Urban Homestead in Pasadena. Since I’ve heard about this place from several people before and was planning to visit it eventually, I jumped at the opportunity to explore it.
Urban Homestead otherwise know as “Path to Freedom” is a sustainable city farm. Located in the heart of a residential area in Pasadena, the property produces over 3 tons of organic food every year in a 1/10th of an acre garden. Through hard work and dedication, the four-member family owning this property grows enough food to not only satisfy their nutritional needs, but also sell the excess to local restaurants and to individuals through the “Front Porch Homestead” CSA program.
We have recognized the property right away as we drove by. A fence of lush, green vegetation in the front of the house sets it apart from other neighboring residences. As we entered the property, a neatly landscaped herb and flower garden with an outdoor tree-covered seating area and fruit trees in the background charmed us immediately. A cozy front porch displayed beautiful, fresh produce, bags of homegrown “Freedom Seeds”, and jars of homemade preserves and honey. Yum, yum!
As we made our way to the backyard where the event was taking place, we passed rows of beds with different kinds of greens proudly growing. This narrow side area extending from the walls to the fence, which would be a typical garage driveway in any other house, was completely utilized for food cultivation.
The event, “Social & Hootenanny”, featured live music and home cooked, seasonal dishes. My friend and I had a mixed green salad with strawberries, red onions, and walnuts as a starter, followed by a butternut squash soup, a vegetable pot pie for the main course, and strawberry topped cake with vanilla ice cream for dessert. While enjoying the food at a communal table, we met some interesting people who attended the event for the same reason – to learn more about this sustainable homestead.
Although the rest of the farm was not accessible during the event, some online research reveled the place in its full glory. The www.urbanhomestad.org website is a wonderful educational resource documenting the family’s journey to a sustainable lifestyle. The site revealed that the entire backyard has been transformed into a vegetable garden and a fruit orchard. Even the garage has been adapted to house goats, rabbits, ducks, and chickens.
In addition, by utilizing solar energy, a powered by home-brewed bio-diesel car, and other sustainable measures, this family has managed to reduce their carbon footprint to a minimum. This self-sustaining farm is a great example of how sustainable agriculture and eco living can be incorporated into the urban setting.
Urban farming movement is growing in popularity across many communities in the Los Angeles area and throughout the country. Many people are transforming small areas of land into vegetable gardens or mini-urban farms. Many act as leaders by taking the initiative to plant community gardens, and motivate and educate others to follow suit.
Is getting back to our roots and growing our own food the right thing to do? Absolutely yes! There are many reasons supporting it. Growing and consuming organic, non-GMO, healthy slow food is the main reason? But so is becoming self-sufficient and independent from the mass production, distribution, and retail of produce – all while eliminating food miles and reducing carbon footprint. And what about revolutionizing farming in order to meet the increasing food demand of a growing population worldwide? These are just a few reasons.
And so, as a start, I decided to buy a few pots and plant more herbs in the kitchen window of my land-deprived urban apartment.
Are you a city dweller growing your own food? If so, I would love to hear your story.
Photo credits – Sylvia Rivera (photo #2 and #5 from top left)