Well, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, as of October 2010 the Dervaes Family does – or at least the term “Urban Homestead” and “Urban Homesteading”. If you are are following such news, you might know of the recent fracas surrounding this issue. The Dervaes Family are pioneers of the urban farming movement, having started their micro-farm in the mid-1980’s in Pasadena. Their project has evolved into a full-fledged institute and now they are looking to trademark the terms they feel describe what they do. Trouble is, the phrase “Urban Homestead” isn’t just about them. As it turns out, there are all sorts of people in practically every state (including one nomadic Vansteader) doing the same thing, and in the past several years, a loose community has formed on the web. Pretty awesome, in my opinion. In fact, when I was poking around the web looking for a name for this blog, I typed in Urban Homestead and got a whole long list of variations on that theme in the form of URLs. Now some of these people have received “cease and desist” letters and had their Facebook pages shut down. Suddenly, this random community of urban farming folks has galvanized to try and convince the Dervaes to stop being so damn un-neighborly.
Aside from my attempts at worm-composting and indoor mushroom cultivation, I don’t really qualify as an Urban Homesteader, but I find this community inspiring and would hate to see what seems to be a growing movement stymied by having to re-identify themselves to avoid legal action by the Dervaes. So I have stopped linking to their site and will be joining the Facebook protest today. The upside to this controversy is the amount of publicity urban farming is getting and I hope it makes the whole thing more accessible to people who wouldn’t ordinarily be rushing out to install WindowFarms in their apartment or canning their own beans.
To that end, I bring you a few links (among many) of the various urban homesteading projects out there
- The Institute for Urban Homesteading
- Root Simple (formerly Homegrown Evolution)
- The Urban Homestead Experiment
- Brooklyn Homesteader
- Grow & Resist
- The New Home Economics
And a few links to recent articles on the controversy:
If you are so moved and are on Facebook, visit the page “Take Back Urban Home-Steading(s)”, to find out more about how people are coming together online to defend a term that describes a lifestyle, not just one family in Pasadena.