The Urban Homestead

“The contemporary bible on the subject” — The New York Times The Urban Homestead (Expanded and Revised Edition): Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City (Process Self-reliance Series) by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen  (Process, 2010) ISBN: 978-1934170106 (The first edition, the one with the “American Gothic” cover, was released by Process on June 1, 2008) Buy it at:  Amazon • Abe Books • Barnes...

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Least Favorite Plant: Euphorbia tirucalli

When we bought the glorified shack which is our house, it came with a collection of trees I’d never plant including a twenty foot tall, multi-trunk, Euphorbia tirucalli also known as the “pencil tree.” In most places Euphorbia tirucalli, which hails from tropical Africa, is only a house plant, but here in frost free Los Angeles, the damn thing can grow to massive proportions. Merely cutting a limb of this toxic tree produces d...

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Urban Homestead on Craigslist. Act Now!

I’ve always been uneasy with the moniker “urban homestead.” It’s the title of our book (what else could we have called it?), but it’ not really accurate. The activities we describe are also practiced by suburbanites and people in rural places. And “homestead” is not technically accurate–all the readers of our book, I’m fairly certain, either own or rent their property. The term is also load...

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The Food and Flowers Freedom Act

Local food is coming back to Los Angeles. Homegrown Evolution is proud to be a part of a new group, the Urban Farming Advocates (UFA). Not in LA? Start your own UFA branch. City codes need to be changed everywhere! UFA activist Glen Dake posted the following notice on the Garden Council website: Problem: In 1946, a Los Angeles municipal code known as the Truck Gardening Ordinance was written to allow the growing of vegetables in a residentia...

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Least Favorite Plant: Yellow Oleander (Thevetia peruviana)

Thumbing through a book of toxic and hallucinogenic plants, I finally manged to i.d. the neighbor’s shrub that looms over the staircase to our front door. The popular name given for this plant in the book was “suicide tree”, so named for its use in Sri Lanka, though I’ve found other plants with this same moniker. The scientific name is Thevetia peruviana, and it’s also known as “lucky nut” (can we chang...

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Finding an Urban Homestead on Craigslist

Backyard of the “Lee Street Homesteaders” You know the urban homestead thing has caught on when the phrase shows up in a Craigslist rental ad: Imagine… living at the edge of a city and at the edge of modern society. Growing your own food and medicine in your backyard. Raising poultry and harvesting your own eggs. Brewing your own beer and kombucha. Fermenting your own raw sauerkraut and pickles. And living within s...

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2011 in Review: Urban Homestead Trademark Dispute

As the year draws to a close I thought I’d review some of our posts from the previous year starting with an update on the trademark dispute over the terms “urban homestead” and “urban homesteading”. In February of this year the Dervaes Institute (DI) sent a cease and desist letter to over a dozen different individuals and organizations including our publisher Feral House/Process Media, public radio station KCRW, De...

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Urban Homestead, Urban Homesteading: These Terms Belong to All of Us

Our attorneys at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the law firm, Winston & Strawn, have filed a petition to cancel the bogus trademark registrations for the terms “Urban Homestead” and “Urban Homesteading.” You may read the EFF’s press release here, and the actual petition here. It is a thing of beauty. We are very fortunate to have access to the talents of some of the best people in this business. We ho...

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Least Favorite Plant: Asparagus Fern (Asparagus setaceus)

Today, a new feature on the blog: least favorite plants. I’ve always thought that it’s more fun to read a bad review than a glowing one, so why not extend the concept to the plant world? But we’re not going to rant about “weeds”, which Ralph Waldo Emerson defined as, “a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” As active foragers we’ve found virtues in what most people think of as weeds,...

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Least Favorite Plant: Unkown

This is my first contribution to a regular feature here on Root Simple: the Least Favorite Plant. For me it’s a tie for least favorite between Manroot (I’m sure my adversarial obsession with this plant will compel a future post) and this tree that I have yet to identify (please help in the comments if you know what it is). [update: The Root Simple Community has correctly identified the tree as Osage Orange or Bois d'Arc. Thanks e...

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