Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I am an urban homesteader!

In my recent quest to become a domestic goddess, I have been reading a lot of blogs about urban homesteading: having a farm in the city basically.  Today when reading Root Simple , a blog written  by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen (they wrote the book The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City), I discovered while I'd been living in my Pure Romance bubble, a war is breaking out in the urban homestead movment.

A family in Pasedena, CA, the Dervaes, have recently sent out a letter to bloggers, libraries, publishers, authors etc.... saying the term urban homestead cannot be used for because they own the trademark  (along with several other phrases/words) to please reference appropriately so legal action is not taken. As a result there is a huge movement to support the urban homestead movement and to get the trademark decision reversed (not sure if that is possible).

What? Really? The phrase urban homestead is trademarked?  The idea is ludricis to me.  When I hear urban homestead, I think of it as a lifestyle.  Wanting to support local businesses.  Wanting to be more self sustainable, eating seasonally, knowing where your food comes from, all while living in a community instead of in the middle of a 100 acre farm. How can you trademark that? Well last year the application for trademark was approved for the Dervaes. 

Oxford dictionary defines homestead as:
1 a house, especially a farmhouse, and outbuildings.
2 Law a person‘s or family’s residence, which comprises the land, house, and outbuildings, and in most states is exempt from forced sale for collection of debt
So, by exact definition an urban homestead is a house in an urban area, and they want to trademark this?

The word homestead, historically is not pretty.  In 1862, the US goverment passed the Federal Homestead Act granting 160 acres of land to anyone who wanted to farm it.  Many of you remember that movie with Nicole Kidman & Tom Cruise, Far & Away, they go out west to claim their land.  The Homestead Act was revised several times and one could claim federal land and receive the deed well into the 20th century (although it was much more popular at the end of the 19th century)

I hold a degree in history and I will be one of the first to tell you, the  US government was giving away land that was not "theirs".  The whites in charge took the land away from the Native American nations either by killing them or removing them by force. Much of the history of the United States is not pretty and is not fair, this country was built by breaking the backs of others (but that's a whole other blog), we  should learn our history, then move on and learn not to repeat it.   I don't believe the majority of people who consider themselves urban homesteaders are reliving glory days of killing non-whites.

Ten Apple Farm put a great statement in their post, "Whatever you want to call what you do, in whatever setting you are doing it, as homesteaders we are all connected by a conscious choice to live closer to the land.  We choose to tend animals, to grow, gather and preserve our gardens, and to combine self-sufficiency with a spirit of community. You can’t put a trademark on that."

The Dervaes family is claiming they have the right to the term urban homestead because it constitutes intellectual property.  I am not a lawyer and do not understand most law, but I know the Devares family were not the first to a garden in their backyard in the city.  

To learn more here are some great blogs on the issue:

EFF  - legal support for Kelly Coyne & Erik Knutzen
Farm Curious
FB page Take back Urban-Homesteading

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like just another reason for a lawsuit to me. :/ Ahh America!