Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I Am Not Exactly an Urban Homesteader

For the benefit of my friends who don't follow the urban homesteading movement, a quick explanation:  a family in Pasadena that has been doing wonderful work on educating about self-sufficiency and urban agriculture has suddenly suffered from some kind of fit of self-importance and decided to trademark the phrase "urban homestead" and a few other related phrases.  They have sent threatening letters to a number of bloggers, news websites, and the authors of the book "The Urban Homestead."  This has caused quite a tempest in the urban homesteading community and there is a campaign underway to flood the sphere with the dubiously trademarked phrases.  Here's my contribution.

I am not really an urban homesteader.  First off, I live in about as sub-urban a town as you're ever going to find.  Second, because I live in an incredibly expensive suburban area and have chosen to be a stay-at-home mother, we own a manufactured home on a very small lot.  Third, we've only owned the place for a few months and I am starting from scratch, so aside from two 4'x8' raised beds (that don't get enough sun and are only partially planted so far) and a fence full of pea vines, we're not even close to producing one dinner's worth of vegetables.  There are a lot of plans, and someday you'll all be amazed at what comes out of my tiny patch of dirt, but for now I am at square one.

However, my heart is in this thing 100%.  There is an indescribable glory in knowing that you're responsible for nurturing something you're going to eat.  The peas started flowering this week, and that's immensely satisfying.  The broccoli florets are small but growing.  Once we get the windows replaced in front, I'm going to have a trellis made that will span the whole front of the house, which is west-facing.  The trellis will be used to grow climbing squash, runner beans, indeterminate tomatoes and maybe even nasturtiums (which are edible too!).  It will shade my house and save me from the temptation to use the air conditioner.  

I'm not a novice at this - I had an extensive vegetable garden and a flock of eight chickens when we were renting a house for a couple of years.  I learned from books and websites and my own mistakes.  I learned nothing from the Dervaes family - the folks who have started this little storm with a misguided attempt to monopolize a movement they have no right to control. I never found their website all that helpful, although I appreciate that they offer classes & tours, I'm too far away from them to take advantage. I'm not angry at them, just puzzled by the belief that a movement can be trademarked and owned.  The idea of urban homesteading isn't new - people have had kitchen gardens and brewed their own drinks and raised chickens in cities for pretty much as long as there have been cities.  So I fervently hope that this dispute gets settled on the side of fairness & openness, not on the side of ownership and intimidation.


Casey said...

Interesting. Keep us updated on the happenings of these people. They obviously haven't lived in the south because thats pretty much standard living around here.

Stephanie said...

You go girl! I look forward to hearing your urban homesteading adventures in your new place.