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Old 04-28-2012, 02:04 PM
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Guess the title gives the basic Q

Thinking of getting some land and wondering how much cleared is needed to farm per person. I understand that it all depends on where and whats grown, etc. I'd like to be fully self sufficient, but doubt I'd be able to do the wheat/barely/grains end of the spectrum (takes space and time consuming after harvest) Canning and dehydration would obviously be done (unless I can figure out how be like a bear and hibernate)

Just looking for a ballpark (in the conservative end)


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Old 04-28-2012, 02:17 PM
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Need more information. Too vague, there are way to many variables.... ???
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Old 04-28-2012, 02:17 PM
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Well...
You can raise 50 pounds of wheat, 280 pounds (minimum) of pork, 120 cartons of eggs, 100 pounds of honey, up to 75 pounds of nuts, 600 pounds of fruit, a variety of herbs, and 2000+ pounds of vegetables on 1/4 acre.
Old 04-28-2012, 02:20 PM
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Acres? Man, I've raised big gardens and had to give food away (lest it rot). Biggest consideration is the quality of the land. If it's good loamy soil, then you may not even have to fertilize it. Me, I always turn horse sht, peat moss, and sand into the ground. You can rotate crops by growing alfalfa and turning it under. Note that a little bit of store-bought fertilizer goes a LONG way. Too much fertilizer = burnt crop. Get yourself as best a rototiller as you can afford. Come hard times, I'm helping my neighbors out as best I can, 'cause they have good soil also. Gas will in those days be more important for your tiller than your car.

If I had a load of money, I'd go bail-out a farmer(s) in financial trouble (county agriculture agents could readily inform you of such people). I'd take as my part a small section of poor land on which to build a house and in written agreement have them beholden to me, not in money, but in food. In doing this, you will have gotten these people out of a tight spot, you will have gotten a touch of land, and most importantly, you will have made some life-time friends. There is no shortage of family farmers who are just getting by, or worse yet, not getting by. You help them out and everybody wins.
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Old 04-28-2012, 02:23 PM
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If you add another 1/4 acre, of pasture, you could add a small beef steer or a couple of goats. If you have a second pen, on the land in question, and a month and a half to spare, you can add a couple hundred meat chickens, through the year...and a dozen (or more) rabbits. Given the "conservative" clause, I eliminated those in the first post.
Old 04-28-2012, 02:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suds View Post
Guess the title gives the basic Q

Thinking of getting some land and wondering how much cleared is needed to farm per person. I understand that it all depends on where and whats grown, etc. I'd like to be fully self sufficient, but doubt I'd be able to do the wheat/barely/grains end of the spectrum (takes space and time consuming after harvest) Canning and dehydration would obviously be done (unless I can figure out how be like a bear and hibernate)

Just looking for a ballpark (in the conservative end)


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I love these people.. look what they do on 1/10th of an acre.



Old 04-28-2012, 02:35 PM
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Thanks guys!

I'm living on 1/4 acre now (though useless for growing, unless I plant my front yard; neighbors already look at me funny) But find naturegirlmia's post a bit hard to swallow (though not tossing it out in the least)

as per the conservative clause, that was if, for argument sake, and acre would work, plan on 1.25 acre. (being hungry isn't fun droughts, insects, and disease happen)

A few animals is certainly a thought; a few sheep, goats, chickens, maybe some cows and rabbits. I'm no hunter, so I'd share my livestock with someone who would process it for me. But livestock is a different animal altogether
Old 04-28-2012, 02:45 PM
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This is one of the books I bought, when we started out:

I was skeptical, too. A few years later, I've discovered that these estimates are actually on the LOW end! Of course, we have excellent soil... but, still, just thought I'd post where I got those figures.

EDIT:
These numbers were figured with 12) 4x8 vegetable garden beds, various nut and fruit trees, grapevines and berry canes, strawberry beds, an herb garden, a 25x50 patch of wheat or oats, 12 chickens, 2 pigs, a few rabbits, and 2 beehives.

Last edited by naturegirlmia; 04-28-2012 at 02:52 PM.. Reason: Added info
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Old 04-28-2012, 03:02 PM
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Here in Kanas, an acre of corn yields perhaps 150 bushels per acre. You can graze 4 mother sheep on about an acre, but you would need to buy hay. An acre of wheat yeilds perhaps 40 bushels per acre.

With livestock you need to feed hay during the heat of summer (if you live down south) or hay during the winter (if you live in the north).

As for Naturegirl mia's figures, I think that having that many trees would decrease the yields because of shading, but other than that it could be done if water was not limited and you had a more or less 12 month growing season. There are a few such places in the USA, but not very many.Most of us have either summers that are dry or winters that are cold.
Old 04-28-2012, 03:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suds View Post
Guess the title gives the basic Q

Thinking of getting some land and wondering how much cleared is needed to farm per person. ...
Just looking for a ballpark (in the conservative end)
Plots given out to homesteaders were 40 acres (and got larger as poorer and more remote land was being partitioned). The assumption was that a family of 4~5 could live off half that amount, and use the output of the other half to trade/sell.

With the advantages of modern power equipment and agricultural know-how you could get by on a tenth of that, on produce. If you want livestock, and need hay for winter, you start moving back toward the 20-40 number.
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Old 04-28-2012, 03:05 PM
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Naturegirlmia, we posted at the same time!

What do you use for animal feed? I can see how the rest can be done, but not that!
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Old 04-28-2012, 03:17 PM
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Our chickens are mostly freeranging, but we supplement with a feed made of ground corn, wheat, oats, sunflower seeds, split peas, sesame seeds, boiled potato skins, crushed egg shells, produce clippings, and table scraps.

When we have the pigs, they eat cracked corn and table scraps/produce clippings, mostly.

For the record, we are on a much larger plot of land, too...LOL
Old 04-28-2012, 03:29 PM
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Hard to exactly answer that question, there are plethora of variables here.. Some things here that might help a bit.

Land in grass hay that has been well kept has reasonable rainfall and been fertilised.... 2 to 4 tons per acre of hay production. Most livestock need around 2% of their body weight per day in hay.

Land in grass hay that not been well kept, not been fertilised and has not had great rainfall 1/4 to 2 tons per acre hay production. Most livestock need around 3% to 4% of body weight per day of this hay.

I put this out to show a simple crop and the potential variance in yield.

Another thing that will vary greatly is whether one is working the ground, with modern means of farming or older fashioned means. Modern means are producing about 1,800# to 3,000#of wheat per acre here on spring wheat, winter wheat here in Latah averages 82 bushels per acre or just under 5,000# per acre. Latah and Whitman countys have the highest rates of wheat per acre of any place in the world. These numbers assume modern farming technique, good rainfall and fertilisation.

Average wheat production per acre in the US in 1920 was 10 bushels per acre or 600#. Again an example to show the huge variance within this subject.

The difference also in year to year weather conditions create massive differences in crop realisation as well, good year versus bad year. Within our current modern situation a bad year affects prices but you generally do not have starvation, in a SHTF scenario a bad year can very well result in starvation, just something to consider into the calculation.

With these things in mind here we go...

Vegetable gardening by hand, if well done can return fairly easily 3 to ten tons per acre per year. This is considering the soil is in good shape, well fertilised and well worked and barring any kind of insect plague or animal devistation, drout etc.

Here at our place I have 40 acres, we use about 3 acres for the home site area, 1 acre for ponds, 10 acres in timber the rest is currently in hay. I currently have about 6,00 sq feet of garden tilled up and I would like to up that to 10,000 by the time I plant.

We raise milk goats, sheep, chickens and rabbitts, they take up an amount of space and require an amount of hay and grain to provide for them. They eat around ten tons of hay per year which takes up around safely 10 acres on a good year around 5 acres. Between the goats, sheep, rabbitts and whatnot that would require about 2 to 3 acres of grain. So we can safely get by on 15 acres apportioned to feeding the animals at current herd size and a small increase.

We have great water supply here, even if the well went out I have 3.5 million to 5 million gallons of water in the ponds each year that I could use to water from.

By my best calculation for us a family of seven with a very stable source of nearly unlimited watering capability, good soil etc, I would say that we could almost certainly get by on 5 acres of gardens and grains.

To add in the animals herd that would add another 15 acres of field and grains.

For a family of seven with a herd of meat and milk animals we currently need around 25 acres to cover housing, buildings, animal pens, cropland and hay land.

There is no way for me to flat state how much land you might need, there are just way to many variables, but hopefully something here helps to point you in the direction of an answer.

Another thing to consider is not only vegetable crops and grain crops, but fruit tree crops as well, we have many many fruit trees here which help a lot on food production. Fruit trees produce a huge amount of food per acre and require much less time and care, though require a fair amount of time to grow in the first place.

Gardening and cropping is highly labor and time intensive, but grazing meat animals on rough wild growth is not. I would suggest that one consider raising meat and or milk animals as well as garden and crops. The animals can easily be grazed on wild forage and then bring that wild forage back to a potential garden area and release that material as fertiliser for your garden and crops.

My livestock is actually more usefull to me as a fertiliser system than they are as a food source themselves. By having many pens I may winter in a pen filling it with manure, then another pen through spring and summer filling that with manure. By rotating pens all the time I can keep all gardening areas easily fertilised and getting better with each year. The rotted waste hay and manure mix can be gathered into piles mulched and then spread on cropland and hay land.

I would say in general most small groups could be fully self sufficient on around 10 to 20, 30 acres should provide well for a small group. An individual person, well just about any amount of land would work, you could simply survive as a hunter gatherer quite easily.
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Old 04-28-2012, 03:39 PM
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Square foot per person requirements would depend on what you're raising/growing, rabbits don't take up much space, neither do chickens, but you also have to factor in the space required to grow their food as well as the veggies you raise for human consumption. Potatoes can be made into flour similar to what you'd get from wheat, so if you'd rather go that direction it would still be possible to have a good source of flour for baking. Really think out what you plant before you even till the ground, many plants (take Zuccini for example) can produce more of the specific vegetable than even an entire family will consume, while some others will take numerous plants to produce what a single person will consume.

Some crops can be planted early, and mature quickly, and so can be replanted a couple of times during a fairly short growing season, while others may take the entire growing season to mature.

In my experience, my family of 5 growing up would survive the majority of the year on a 1/4 acre garden, the chicken coop and a few game animals. I remember spending long hours cutting corn off the cob and filling ziploc bags headed for the freezer, and spending countless hours digging carrots, onions and spuds destined for the root cellar.

Our 75'X25' garden will provide our family with many, many meals this year, as will my rather small 6'X10' rabbit facilities, I've even got a small patch of Timothy Grass that we'll be harvesting and curing as feed for the little rodents during our harsh winter months.

Unfortunately, our town ordinances don't allow chickens within city limits, otherwise I'd have myself a dozen or so layers and a continual run of butcher chickens........
Old 04-28-2012, 03:46 PM
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1/2 acre per person if you manage it well.. But that is only vegies and corn, soy... You need to look into fruits and nuts which will take your acreage up. We plant our fruit and nut trees on the North side of the field so as not to interfere with the sun. (remember as it arcs across the U.S. it is more in the South)
Look into raised gardens this will help with needing less fertilizer which we keep on hand for the next year in case it is not available "for some odd reason"..
We go higher on the acreage as we like to rotate crops and figure more is better (food and land)...
.... Good Luck....
Old 04-28-2012, 04:01 PM
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He's lucky, he lives in California where you can grow year round. I live up in the mountains and our growing season is only 2 months at best, then we get permanant frost until spring. I tried a garden and the deer and elk ate it, then move it up on my deck and the chipmonks chewed it down to the dirt, then moved it to the yard with a fence all around and the moles came up through the ground. I finally gave up and started storing wheat, a much better option. If the end of the world comes I'll have plenty of deer, elk, rabbits, etc. to feed my family. Someday I'd like to get a rodent proof greenhouse on a concrete slab and do raised garden beds like that guy.
Old 04-28-2012, 04:08 PM
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A 1 acre garden can feed a family of 4 just fine for a year if planned right. Once the garden plants have come off replant that 1 acre in winter wheat by mid oct. (depending on location) and you can harvest it in early to mid may. Then plant your garden again in may. I however, would rotate the land and give it a rest every other year. You can make a 10x10 chicken tractor and if moved daily it can hold 25-30 (or more) chickens. Rabbits are easy enough and can be fed grass from the yard. A breeding cow/calf pair (with AI instead of a bull) will require anywhere from 14-36 acres (depending on location) to feed it strictly hay for the year. However, if planned property you can plant sections of pasture in cool season grasses and sections in warm season grasses and "stock pile" standing hay, then rotate the cattle by the seasons or the day. In turn you have more grazing days per acre... meaning more cows per acre or less land needed. Free range chickens will more evenly distribute the manure from the cattle but, would require extra cost in fencing or electric netting to contain them. I would go with the latter and move them every few days. Hogs can graze pasture and also find acorns, grubbs and other goodies on the same land that the cattle are on once they are rotated or in any wooded areas. Goats are a good choice and would open up less desireable land usages and more goats per acre can be kept compared to cattle. They produce usually 2 kids and 5 is not an unheard of number. They can give you meat, cheese, butter, soap, and make exellent "bush hoggers". If cleverly thought out and with a firm plan in place I believe one could be totally self sufficient on 20 acres of land.
Old 04-28-2012, 06:39 PM
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OMG really? He said "totally self sufficient". That means growing ALL feed and providing pasture for animals and veggies and grains for ones self. This all depends on where you live as to the space requirements. Yeah, the ones that live on one tenth of an acre, catch rain to supplement water needs, are still paying for water. They are NOT self sufficient, just admirable in the cost savings their operation provide.
If you want to graze a few animals it will take at least 3 acres a steer without irrigation. And you will need more to feed said steer in the winter with a hay crop. (where I live)
If you have unlimited free water, than the ratio goes down. But if you are not BUYING outside help, it still takes a hell of a lot more than a 1/4 acre.
Others have already said it. Under ideal conditions it takes at least an acre to feed 4 for a year, that means if everything runs perfectly. That is just vegetables and grains for the family. You still need to feed the critters.
A few chickens and a few rabbits and goats too, need a good amount of space even with supplements. Where I am at would take a micro managed space of 20 acres to meet all our needs except heat and energy. 40 acres would be better. Just saying.
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Old 04-28-2012, 07:00 PM
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log onto the website that has been doing this for years. It is the one magazine I never let go when it's time for renewal........

http://www.motherearthnews.com/
Old 04-29-2012, 02:01 PM
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I see a lot of folks who intensive garden 2 acres; they can feed themselves and market the surplus. In this area they can generally support a family from that size of 'farm'. But they are not providing 100% of their own food.

Livestock? hay? Grain? That gets hard to do on less than 10 acres.
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