I have got a major gripe with folks that claim to have invented urban farming or homesteading. This is because before there were hippies or hipsters, there were people surviving, and still are, on what they can grow on the land they inhabit. The tradition of raising animals for food and growing food in an urban setting is NOTHING NEW. Many of us are from families that have upheld this way of life for generations. Ethnic communities have practiced and still practice a great deal of “urban homesteading” but if you ask them what it is, they will give you a blank look. Its called living. My grandparents did not brag to their San Francisco neighbors because if the news fell on the wrong ears someone might complain to la policia. The grow/raise your own lifestyle is only recently cool.
That said, it seems arrogant, inappropriate and disrespectful to claim to have created it. I mention this all again because I recently read about an organization in Southern California, Path to Freedom, that has trademarked:
PATH TO FREEDOM®
GROW THE FUTURE®
LITTLE HOMESTEAD IN THE CITY® (pending) and also, THE TEN ELEMENTS OF URBAN HOMSTEADING [sic] copyright has been filed with the Library of Congress.
Apparently, in their race to make claim, they have forced Facebook pages of people using the term to shut down. This includes the Oakland based Institute of Urban Homesteading (this reminds me of when the U.S. attempted to patent the healing properties of tumeric in the 90’s, a root with properties that have been known to Indians for thousands of years).
Their website states that “If your use of one of these phrases is not to specifically identify products or services from the Dervaes Institute, then it would be proper to use generic terms to replace the registered trademark you are using. For example, when discussing general homesteading or other people’s projects, they should be referred to using terms such as ‘modern homesteading,’ ‘urban sustainability projects,’ or similar descriptions.”
What really gets me is their definition of an urban homesteader. What they call their 10 Elements:
YOU KNOW YOU ARE AN URBAN HOMESTEADER WHEN YOU …
1. Grow your own food on your city lot. (More than 50% of your diet, organically, with visually appealing landscaping.)
2. Use alternative energy sources (e.g., solar, wind) in conjunction with energy efficiency and conservation measures to reduce usage.
3. Use alternative fuels and transportation (bicycle, walk, public).
4. Keep farm animals for manure and food. Practice animal husbandry.
5. Practice waste reduction. Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without, compost it, re-purpose it.
6. Reclaim greywater and collect rainwater. Practice water conservation and recovery.
7. Live simply. … in the manner of past eras. Develop back-to-basics homemaking skills, including food preservation and preparation.
8. Do the work yourself. Learn to do home and vehicle maintenance, repairs and basic construction.
9. Work at home. Earn a living from the land or hand work done at home. Develop a home-based economy.
10. Be a good neighbor. Offer a helping hand for free. Urban homesteading is a community-based way of life, not a business opportunity. Be a neighbor, not a business person.
Again, meet my grandparents Frank and Lupe, and their parents, and their parents. For that matter meet the family of my husband, The Pallanas from India. They waste nothing and my father-in-law was raised on homegrown food. Every time I implement an energy reducing tactic, optimize a harvest and preserve it, he tells me it reminds him of his mother.
For the record, the organization is based in Orange County. I’ve never gotten my own farming and homesteading information from Orange County sources. They only information I follow in Orange County is the writing of satirist Gustavo Arellano.
I am, to say the least, disappointed by their claim. Their path to freedom is an old story of making claims to what has been owned for a long time. I thought we had learned that lesson.