Excerpts from this extended interview (with many great photos) are copied below.
The creation of the Path to Freedom Urban Homestead was the result of my long-held beliefs in living simply and caring for the environment. GMOs were the catalyst for my becoming a full-time homesteader in the city in 2001, but my journey began long before that in the 1970s. It was in 2000, when I was living in Pasadena, that, in an angry reaction to the news that U.S. biotech firms were bent on introducing GMOs into the food system, I took the next radical step towards becoming an urban pioneer. I had to protect my family from this mad experiment by providing them with the real food we could grow ourselves.
I was shocked and incredulous—and felt helpless—that I was at the mercy of such corporate irresponsibility.
This threat forced me to take action. I feared for my children: What kind of world was I handing down to them? That became the turning point for me when “Enough was ENOUGH!”
Every project will, at the start, entail more work and time just because it is new. It took me 25 years to get my garden to this stage, but I began by planting just a few plants in a small space.
So, for those who feel overwhelmed, pick out vegetables or herbs you would enjoy eating, that are hardy and do well even for rookie green thumbs. Ask your local nursery staff which ones are best for your area and season of year.
Make sure you have good soil to start with. If not, purchase bags of organic compost to amend it. “If you don’t have healthy soil, you don’t have healthy plants.” Feed the soil first, with a regimen that includes mulching and compost. Any leafy greens can be grown easily in containers so you can start getting good results right away.
By their being involved when they were young, my children were able to experience firsthand, for themselves, the rewards of this way of life. After a while, having experienced success, they came to realize the potential of homesteading. When they see what is happening in our world and hear about the critical problems we face, they don’t feel helpless because they are doing something about those problems. They have an immediate response to troubling world news—something they can do with their hands versus just talking and worrying about global conditions but not getting anywhere. Here they feel empowered. And you can’t beat empowerment as a motivator.
The garden grows over 350 varieties of vegetables, herbs, fruit, and edible flowers. We try to find heirloom varieties. With summer crops coming on, we will soon be enjoying tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, green beans, apples, blueberries, plus common herbs and also edible flowers, such as nasturtiums and dianthus.
One day, there will be a time when people will have to make drastic changes. Making some of those changes now reduces the shock of doing it all at once, later. Because Americans consume the most, they will be the most shocked when the resources are no longer there. As the world situation worsens, people will need to commit fully to a different, non-mainstream way of life. You can start a project of change whatever the circumstances, but you cannot keep straddling two positions, occupying the middle ground. A step backwards truly is progress when you choose a path away from the cliff. . .
Path to Freedom represents a lifestyle change, a way to transition from this system to a better one. This difference sets us apart from other projects because we have created a real model where the tangible results of our changes simply speak for themselves. We are living it.