With grocery prices still high as heck, the idea of growing some of my own food is looking more tempting than ever. Unfortunately, I'm a serial killer of plants with very little space, so my gardening dreams probs aren't gonna pan out.
But 35-year-old Kevin Espiritu (@epicgardening) is living my dream and going viral on TikTok in the process. He recently shared a video detailing the work he put into turning his San Diego home into a smart urban homestead, and it totally blew up. It's been viewed over 16 million times on the platform, with over 18,000 comments.
Two years ago, Kevin bought the house with the dream of turning it into a place where he could grow his own food, keep chickens, collect rainwater, and basically enjoy a more sustainable existence. In the beginning, there was not much in the yard for him to work with:
But now his front yard is full of raised garden beds, currently planted with winter crops like broccoli and kale. Plus, he's got citrus trees that get watered with the runoff from his shower, and artichokes and dragonfruit that get water from his laundry.
On the roof, there are 25 solar panels. Kevin says, "Those bad boys keep my electricity bill at effectively zero." And in the backyard, a chicken coop keeps him supplied with precious, suddenly so expensive eggs.
Kevin also has a system for capturing rainwater, a koi pond, an in-ground garden and area for growing seeds, and an outdoor shower that provides water to the front yard. He concludes the video saying, "I get it. It's a little overkill. It's a little fancy. But I do want to show you just how possible it is to get started, even on a small scale, producing some of your own food at home in an urban environment."
And in the comments, people are loving what he's done with the place.
Kevin told BuzzFeed that it was his dream to own a place where he could build a more sustainable life. "I was searching for a place to turn into a homestead, and when I saw this property — small house, large lot — at a 'reasonable' price for San Diego, the vision sprung to life immediately in my mind. I HAD to have it."
He continued, "As far as the actual layout and plan of the homestead, that came together piece by piece, designing from the outside edges of the property inwards over the last two years."
But he says his favorite addition is the koi pond: "Adding an aquatic ecosystem in the backyard with fish, edible aquatic plants, and pondside landscaping has completely changed the character of the backyard. Birds bathe in the pond daily, new insect life is around, and I've even caught raccoons and possums getting a drink! It's incredible what bringing water into a landscape will do, not only for the plants and animals, but for yourself and your own mental well-being."
For folks who want to dip a toe into this kind of urban homesteading, Kevin says collecting rainwater can be a great way to start. "It's not only inexpensive for small barrels, but your local municipality typically subsidizes these purchases with rebate programs. The feeling of watering your garden from freshly captured rain is hard to beat, and your plants will grow better with rainwater."
Finally, he hopes that sharing his homestead project will inspire others to take small steps toward living more sustainable lives. "Our message at Epic Gardening is and always has been 'keep on growing' — so keep taking steps towards your goals to grow more food and be more self-sufficient, even if they feel tiny at first. They'll add up, and years down the line, your entire life will be transformed."