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Freedom Gardeners: Homegrown Revolution

By Marie Oser, Managing Editor
June 11, 2009
File under: Healthy Eating, Local Farmers, Produce


In March of this year, First Lady Michelle Obama planted the first White House vegetable garden since the ‘Victory Garden’ days of Eleanor Roosevelt.

Edible landscaping is as old as Babylonia and has been cultivated throughout history, often gaining prominence in times of social or economic instability. This type of urban agriculture sprouted up in the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe where the potager or kitchen garden supplied vegetables, herbs and fruit.

In WWI they were called Liberty Gardens and subsequently became the Relief Gardens of the Great Depression era.

Freedom Gardens, a sort of a Facebook meets Farmer’s Almanac, is a social networking site for homegrown food enthusiasts that launched in May of 2008. Here, novice and expert growers from all over the world gather to post success stories, ask questions and share techniques and ideas that support self-sustained living.

If you are a Localvore (proponent of eating locally grown food) you can’t get more local than homegrown.  The benefits of growing your own food are hard to deny. There is nothing so sweet, juicy, tender, or delicious as fresh-picked vegetables, enhanced with home grown herbs just minutes off the vine.

Vegetable gardening can be incredibly rewarding and the gift that keeps on giving in the fight against soaring food prices and global warming. Having a food factory in your own backyard can go a long way toward reducing your carbon footprint.

Produce sold at grocery stores is often grown in California, Florida, Arizona, Washington or Canada and as far away as Chile, Mexico, Brazil or China. The distance that produce is flown and/or trucked from farm to store is between 500 and 1500 miles.

The further produce travels, the more fuel is consumed. Additionally, carbon dioxide emissions are generated by refrigeration during transit, in distribution warehouses and at the grocery store.¹ was founded by the Dervaes family, urban “eco-pioneers” who have been growing most of their own food since 2001, on their one-fifth acre residential lot in Pasadena, California.

Jules Dervaes and his three adult children, Anais, Justin and Jordanne, grow over 400 varieties of fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs and edible flowers. The Dervaes family runs an award-winning “green” business selling fresh organic produce to local restaurants and caterers from their urban garden.

Freedom Gardens grew out of the Dervaes family’s first website,, a seven-year-old sustainable living site with five million hits from 125 countries, per month. Freedom Gardens is a newer, more interactive site that that connects gardeners with others in their area.

Members can join groups, find or contribute recipes and participate in swaps and forums. Visitors share tips about local climate and soil issues, post challenges they are facing on their profiles and find others with similar issues.

There are groups for every aspect of food farming, from hydroponics and small space container gardening to small-scale grain raising, mini-orchards and compost piles.

Freedom Gardens sees itself as a back-to-basics pioneer with practical solutions to rising food and fuel costs. If you are looking for information and support or just want to learn how to grow mushrooms or put up jams and jellies this is the place.

What could be more convenient than stepping out into the yard to gather a crisp fresh salad, plump tomatoes and colorful carrots, squash or leafy greens for the evening meal?

In the process you can improve your health, reduce your ecological footprint and save money. That’s a win-win-win!

  1. Desrochers, Pierre and Hiroko Shimzu. “Yes We Have No Bananas: A Critique of the Food Miles Perspective.” Mercatus Policy Series Policy Primer, No. 8. Arlington, VA: Mercatus Center at George Mason University, October 2008.

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An alternative approach to health, wellness and disease prevention. Marie Oser and her team of bloggers bring you creative natural solutions to issues affecting our health and wellbeing.

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