Today, in reaction to a lot of nonsense coming out of the Dervaes family in California, is the Urban Homesteaders Day of Action. For an update on the trademark kerfluffle that started the electronic protest, check out Take Back Urban Homesteading on Facebook.
The short version is that a family that has been prominent in the urban homesteading community for some time managed to trademark several names that are actually in common usage, including Urban Homesteading and Urban Homestead. They’ve sent some unpleasant letters to bloggers and other communications-type people in an attempt to enforce this trademark.
The bloggers and other communications-type people, including yours truly, think they’re off their nut.
Instead of going into any detail about this legal scuffle, I’m just going to say that it’s a shame that a family that has done such good work in promoting urban gardening and homesteading has shattered their credibility with this action. On the other hand, they’ve done a bang-up job of pissing off a lot of urban homesteaders and uniting us.
My urban homestead is less than a tenth of an acre in Indianapolis, the heart of Zone 5. I’ve ripped up the front lawn to plant vegetables, started dwarf apple and cherry trees, stuck strawberries in the tree lawn, and housed chickens in my garage. Anyone who would like to suggest that the Fraudulent Farmstead is not an urban homestead is welcome to help come clean out the chicken coop.
Urban homesteading is at its heart an act of hope. It’s an act of creativity. It’s an act of community. Urban homesteading lets me take control of my food supply while encouraging my neighbors to do the same. No one can be 100 percent self-sufficient; that’s a myth. Even if we could be, we shouldn’t try to be. Humans are tribal creatures, and I’d rather build a community than isolate myself in my own little farm kingdom. And the more of us urban homesteaders there are, the more we can share knowledge and trade or give away crops (particularly useful when the zucchini come in, or when you can’t possibly turn all of the apples into applesauce).
Since installing vegetables in the front lawn and chickens in the garage, I’ve met a lot of neighbors. They stop by to chat over the tomatoes, sample strawberries from the front beds, and bring their kids by to visit the chickens. In a small way, my urban homestead is helping to build my neighborhood and a friendlier community. If even one of those neighbors is inspired to plant tomatoes when she’d never though she could, that can only be a good thing.
By homesteading on my city plot, I’ve produced good, healthy food; a more welcoming environment for birds and insects; an entertaining spot for the neighbors; and a on-going experiment that gives me great joy and deep satisfaction. I love my urban homestead. Perhaps you’d like one of your own?