Garden of the Decade: Pasadena Paradise

This suburban California family cultivates 300 organic crops without chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

| May/June 2009

  • The Dervaes' front yard is a visible tribute to the garden's bounty. The family's useful herbs and blooms show neighbors how beautiful a working garden can be.
    Photography By Stephen Dabrowski
  • Multi-story gardening maximizes efficiency.
    Photography By Stephen Dabrowski

Jules Dervaes and his family have become something of a sensation since Natural Home featured their incredibly productive organic garden in 2006—and for good reason. Jules, his son Justin and daughters Anais and Jordanne live on one-fifth of an acre in suburban Pasadena, California. The family cultivates about half the property, or one-tenth of an acre. Using a farming system that's up to 150 times as efficient as industrial farming, they cultivate 300 organic crops without chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

The Dervaes family's use of techniques such as multi-story gardening allows them to grow up to four different crops in one square foot. Twining plants grow on arbors, while lightweight plants grow in hanging baskets. Even on the ground, the family grows two layers of plants—stronger, taller plants, such as broccoli, grow above smaller, lower plants, such as endive. Chickens provide fresh eggs, organic pest control and manure for compost.

The garden feeds the family and pays the bills. The family sells organic produce—edible flowers, mixed salad greens, eggs and heirloom tomatoes—to local restaurants. To learn more, visit

Three things we love about this garden:
1. The Dervaes family eats very well off one fiftieth the land the rest of us require.
2. The family reaches out to their suburban community by using their garage to screen films and hold seminars on building with cob and going solar.
3. The garden sustains the family financially through sales of organic produce and eggs to area restaurants.

Read the original Pasadena Paradise article.

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