Jules Dervaes lives with his children Anais, Justin and Jordanne in a modest home in Pasadena, California, not far from Los Angeles.
However, when you enter the back of the house, notions of space and time change, and it feels as if you are in the open country.
The Dervaes house is presented as a town hacienda.
Kilos of food in a small space.
The Dervaes produce on their own land around 2,700 kilograms of food a year, with a varied list of products: vegetables, fruits, eggs, milk, jam, honey, chocolate, condiments.
"But this goes beyond food," says Jules Dervaes: "It is a way of life, alien to consumerism and the speed that characterize today's world. It is a return to the values of our ancestors ”, he defends.
In addition to food production, the family organizes film evenings and traditional music at their home and offers to take care of the neighborhood children when their parents need it.
As romantic as his story may seem, the truth is that Jules Dervaes is nervous and worried.
They have been suffering the effects of the drought for four years and, on the eve of a new summer, he does not know how long they will be able to continue.
"We have had to adapt and try different strategies," he says.
“There are a number of rules, such as keeping a nice porch. You cannot have a garden in front of the house, ”explains Jules Dervaes.
"In addition to the garden, which is our main resource, we have a garden of flowers and plants, some of them edible, and we have also ventured into the production of jam, honey, chocolate and even soft drinks," he says.
Although the family advocates a return to the traditions of a past that conceives healthier for body and spirit, the Dervaes are at the forefront in terms of techniques to save energy and, above all, reduce water consumption.
California authorities are encouraging residents to change the appearance of their front yards.
They try to get people to get rid of the grass plots, a crop that requires and uses a lot of water, to put in their place native plants, more suited to this climate, for example, cacti.
Drought robs the Dervaes family of sleep
They try to maintain an irrigation system that does not use too much water.
The Dervaes quickly adapted to these measures and also took other steps in saving water.
They have a system to recover the water that comes out of the house and with it water some of its trees, and the same happens with an external shower, whose water is used for irrigation instead of disappearing through a pipe.
A posture before life.
This constant adaptation to circumstances is something that characterizes the life of this family.
Born in Tampa, Florida, Jules Dervaes moved to New Zealand in 1973 to start a rural life and distance himself from a United States that, with its economic principles and the Vietnam War, had disappointed him.
But the circumstances of life made Jules and his family return to the US, first to Florida, where he developed the beekeeping skills learned with the New Zealanders, and in 1985 to California, a place from which he has no longer moved. .
The whole family is dedicated to this urban garden project.
In 1985, he bought the house that is now his livelihood, and from 2001, shocked by reports of GM foods, decided to grow his own food.
Since then, everything has been a process of trial and error.
“To reach the production target that we had in such a small space,” explains Dervaes, “we had to expand, expand and expand.
"The orchard started at the back, with a system of small plots that is efficient in the use of water and encourages the 'good insects' to come closer.
In addition to farming, the family has chickens, ducks, and goats.
"From the back we extended to the front garden, then we made use of the driveway and finally we had to resort to the land of a neighbor, where we have part of our crops," he says.
With their “home revolution,” as they call it, the Dervaes family has attracted a lot of outside attention.
Jules comments that people see his garden and want one just like it. Getting to have all this was not a thing of one day to the next. "It takes perseverance," says Jules Dervaes.
“It is better to start small and not give up on setbacks.
"We have had ours, what happens is that there are no photographs of that!" He exclaims.
"You have to move on, setbacks are not forever."
A sick planet
Jules Dervaes does not like where man evolves.
In his opinion, we are increasingly dependent on technology and material.
In his case, he recognizes that it is impossible for him to compete with large stores and internet sales companies.
This is what the Dervaes' house looks like from the air:
Even so, the family manages to sell part of their harvest to small restaurants or to people who come to the house to collect a box full of natural products.
“We live on a sick planet that seems to scream: help! Heal me!
“We want to make a difference. We start with food, add the element of music to it, and walk towards a life of fellowship and conversation.
"This is not a hobby, it is a project for future generations and a question of survival."
Watch the Video: The Garden of the Dervaes