Home Grown: a 2008 Documentary

 

This was the official website for Home Grown, a 2008 documentary about the Dervaes family, father, son and two daughters, who run a small organic farm in the heart of urban Pasadena, California.
Content is from the site's 2008 archived pages and other sources.

 

Since the mid–1980s, members of the Dervaes family have steadily worked at transforming their ordinary city lot in Pasadena into a thriving organic micro farm that supplies them with food all year round. These eco-pioneers also run a successful home business providing their surplus produce to local restaurants.

Through their adventures in growing and preserving their own food, installing a solar power system, home-brewing biodiesel for fuel, raising backyard farm animals, and learning back-to-basics skills, these modern-day pioneers have revived the old-fashioned spirit of self-reliance and resourcefulness.

On a quiet street off Orange Grove Boulevard, about a mile from the Rose Bowl and Old Pasadena, members of the Dervaes family pull about 6,000 pounds of edible flowers, vegetables and fruits from the raised beds and pots on their micro-farm each year.

Jules Dervaes and his children Justin, Anais and Jordanne have been growing their own food on their one-tenth of an acre lot since the 1980s. The family produces 99 percent of its entire diet in the family yard in what Jules calls the “100 foot diet,” since produce and eggs travel 100 feet or less from their source to the Dervaes’ kitchen.

The Dervaes’ urban homestead, Path to Freedom, symbolizes a victory in cutting out food miles from their carbon footprint. What makes this feat all the more remarkable is the family’s ability to use water-conserving techniques to grow their produce.
Food miles are “the distance food travels from where it is grown to where it is ultimately purchased or consumed by the end user,” states a paper published for Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

… Rich soil is the key to having a bountiful garden and getting the most out of scarce water resources, which is why the Dervaes’ have mulched and composted their soil extensively. Over the years they’ve added so much natural fertilizer to their soil that they now have a foot and a half more soil than their next-door neighbors.

“We don’t waste anything and we have five composting areas around here. When you put the good soil [dirt with animal fertilizer] on the plants they immediately have a kind of insurance against water stress and drought because the soil’s good and the plants have good root systems because they go down,” said Dervaes.

To learn more about conserving water, Jules Dervaes and his family turned to the Internet. Researching old methods of irrigation, they found a system used in ancient China, Rome and Egypt and still used around the world to this day. The system is called “ollas,” the Spanish term for bottle or jar.

Ollas irrigation is based on burying unglazed clay jars in planters or garden beds, near produce, and filling the jars up with water. Unglazed clay pottery leeches moisture, making it a poor container for holding water for long periods of time. When the ollas are buried to the throat in soil, the jar loses water, dripping deep in the soil, near the roots of the plants. It acts as a constant drip irrigation system, but because water is below the surface, it’s not lost in the sun’s evaporating rays and the plants get only the water they need.
(8 April 2010)
Path to Freedom is now the subject of a documntary.

 

 

The 21st Century Family Farm

HOMEGROWN follows the Dervaes family who run a small organic farm in the heart of urban Pasadena, California. While "living off the grid", they harvest over 6,000 pounds of produce on less than a quarter of an acre, make their own bio diesel, power their computers with the help of solar panels, and maintain a website that gets 4,000 hits a day. The film is an intimate human portrait of what it's like to live like "Little House on the Prairie" in the 21st Century.

 

 

 

Planting Seeds
 
Documentary For distribution and press inquiries, please contact:
Robert McFalls  -  email: rmcfalls@homegrown-film.com<

Film

 



Homegrown Revolution (Award winning short-film 2009)- The Urban Homestead, Dervaes

 

HOMEGROWN follows the Dervaes family who run a small organic farm in the heart of urban Pasadena, California. While "living off the grid", they harvest over 6,000 pounds of produce on less than a quarter of an acre, make their own bio diesel, power their computers with the help of solar panels, and maintain a website that gets 4,000 hits a day. The film is an intimate human portrait of what it's like to live like "Little House on the Prairie" in the 21st Century.
Documentary For distribution and press inquiries, please contact:
Robert McFalls  -  email: mcfalls@homegrown-film.com

 

About the Film

HOMEGROWN follows the Dervaes family who run a small organic farm in the heart of urban Pasadena, California. While "living off the grid", they harvest over 6,000 pounds of produce on less than a quarter of an acre, make their own bio diesel, power their computers with the help of solar panels, and maintain a website that gets 4,000 hits a day. The film is an intimate human portrait of what it's like to live like "Little House on the Prairie" in the 21st Century.

Running Time: 52 Minutes


Director's Statement

Many people are becoming aware of the environment. We may have gone to see "An Inconvenient Truth", changed our light bulbs, or started to recycle more. But how many of us are really walking the walk? I know I'm not.

When I heard about the Dervaes family, I sensed that there was a human story behind the headlines about global warming or buying organic produce. I wanted to find out what it takes to live the life of an environmental pioneer. I don't wish to simply glorify or romanticize their way of life, however. I want to show that along with the positive benefits there are also sacrifices. Truly living by your ideals can have costs. I believe that recognizing the hardships the Dervaes have faced makes their work all the more inspiring.

HOMEGROWN is ultimately a family story. It's about what lead them to where they are today, what changed them and what keeps them together. Perhaps by learning of their journey to a sustainable life style, we might be inspired to take our own first steps.
 

-- Robert McFalls

 

Bios

The Dervaes Family (Jules, Anaïs, Justin & Jordanne)

Since the mid 1980s, Jules Dervaes and his family have steadily worked at transforming an ordinary residential lot in Pasadena, California into a verdant oasis in the midst of the city. On their small fifth of an acre they are striving to be a self-sustaining urban homestead complete with bio diesel power, solar energy, and wastewater management. These eco-pioneers grow much of their own food and raise a menagerie of chickens, ducks, goats, and an occasional cat. They have been the subject of numerous articles in newspapers around the country, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and were recently featured on ABC's Nightline. You can learn more about them at their website:
www.pathtofreedom.com


Director/Producer/Editor: Robert McFalls

HOMEGROWN is Robert's directorial debut. He is a professional editor with almost twenty years experience in both film and television. While he has worked lately in series television, his first love is the documentary format. Early in his career he was an associate editor on "American Dream", the Barbara Kopple documentary, which won the Academy Award in 1990. That experience helped him to see what a broad reach a well-crafted documentary could have. He recently edited a documentary feature on the Dalai Lama, which is now screening at festivals around the world.


Director of Photography: Arthur Yee

Arthur Yee is a director of photography with a strong career emphasis in documentary production. In his eight years of experience he has filmed worldwide, shooting various locations from Cambodian street scenes to Bolivian mountain ranges. His photography has been seen in projects airing on PBS, NBC, Discovery Channel, and the History Channel.


Composers: Jay Ungar & Molly Mason

Jay Ungar and Molly Mason are best known for their haunting composition Ashokan Farewell in Ken Burns' hit PBS series "The Civil War". The soundtrack won a Grammy and Ashokan Farewell was nominated for an Emmy. They've garnered legions of fans through their appearances on "Great Performances", "A Prairie Home Companion", their own public radio specials, and work on film soundtracks such as "Brother's Keeper", "Legends of the Fall", and a host of Ken Burns documentaries.


Additional Music: Ted Masur

Ted is classically trained musician, with a background that includes conducting, jazz, piano, voice, other instruments and a wide variety of musical influences. Upon completing ASCAP's LA Film Scoring Workshop 2004, Ted was singled out from among fifteen exceptional composers for musical excellence as the recipient of ASCAP's Inaugural Steve Kaplan Award.











 
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