How Much Land Do You Really Need to Be Self Sufficient?

overhead view of self sufficient homesteads

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Most Americans think that miles of machine-planted row crops and crowded feedlots are required to feed everyone—that without large-scale, industrial agriculture, with its chemical inputs and GMOs, we would all starve to death.

Even people who know that organic agriculture can be just as productive as industrial agriculture often think you need to have acres of land to grow all your own food. Here’s why this is totally false…

How Much Land is Enough?

As any of the millions of subsistence farmers and smallholders around the world will tell you, depending on the quality of your land and the size of your family, you can grow all the food you need in a very small space.

It simply requires designing a food production system that works with natural processes to make the most of what you have. (See above image of the Russian dacha neighborhoods where everyone’s yard is full of food.)

If you want to develop your land for food production, the following infographic shows just how much land is needed to be self sufficient, including generating all the solar energy you need to run your home.

According to this image, you need a mere 2 acres!

But I think their estimates for crops are actually too high.

Here are three examples of extreme productivity on very little land:

  • Growing Power – On a 2-acre urban lot in Milwaukee, Will Allen grows over a million pounds of food every year, including thousands of fish, and a livestock inventory of chickens, goats, and bees.
  • The Urban Homestead – A family of four produces most of their own food and $60,000 a year on just a fifth of an acre.
  • Singing Frogs Farm – Just 3 harvested acres on this farm bring in over $100,000 an acre, using low water methods that sequester carbon and generate topsoil.

Using techniques and principles in the resources below, you can potentially grow all your food on as little as a quarter of an acre! Most people in the suburbs could start living off their land today!

Resources for Small Scale Self-Sufficiency

Planning and Maintaining Your Homestead

In recent years, homesteading and self-sufficiency have become popular—even trendy—and dozens of books have popped up that promise to teach you how to do it all. My favorite of these include:

The Suburban Micro-Farm teaches you how to grow food with permaculture principles, so you can get the most productivity out of a small space—while still passing HOA aesthetic standards.

This book will show you how to grow your own fruits, herbs, and vegetables on a busy schedule, improve your soil and save on water, as well as help keep you on track across the growing season, so you feel a sense of accomplishment for your efforts.

And if you want to make a little money from your backyard, The Suburban Micro-Farm has some great ideas for that, too.

The Backyard Homestead is a very comprehensive basic guide to homesteading, and will give you ideas and schematics for setting up all the gardens, coops, etc. you need to meet all your food needs on as little as a tenth of an acre!

There’s also tons of organic gardening information, food preservation techniques, animal husbandry knowledge and more in the book.

The Backyard Homestead is a thorough primer to get you started homesteading in a small space.

Ultra-Productive Gardening

I first learned about intensive growing strategies as a horticulture student decades ago, when I was an intern getting certified as a Biointensive® Mini-Farming instructor with Ecology Action.

Biointensive gardening or mini-farming is an elegant, small-scale agriculture system that makes the bold claim of enabling you to “grow more vegetables than you ever thought possible on less land than you can imagine.”

Ecology Action has been avidly teaching Biointensive techniques to smallholders worldwide, with the goal of helping as many people to become food-secure as possible.

In fact, Biotensive soil care and gardening techniques work so well that you can grow a complete diet in less than 1000 square feet (not including animal products)!

I love Biointensive gardening because, when combined with holistic land design strategies like Permaculture, you can create a complete homestead that is not only highly productive, but also low maintenance.

Biointensive gardens require a lot of soil preparation work up front, including the infamous “double digging.” But for all your efforts in preparation, your gardens will become extremely drought and weed resistant, and very easy to maintain for years to come.

My favorite book to get started with Biointensive gardening is called How to Grow More Vegetables. This resource is a must-have for getting very high yields out of a small garden space.

Getting Off the Grid – Permaculture

Gaia’s Garden will break down the Permaculture techniques you can best use in an urban or suburban setting, and help you implement them into your homestead design. From planting fruit trees in multi-level, vertical guilds that increase yields to building renewable energy and greywater systems that fit your family’s needs, this book makes Permaculture accessible to the newbie homesteader.

The plant lists at the end are worth the price of the book alone, and as a certified Permaculture designer and teacher myself, I recommend Gaia’s Garden highly.

If you have a small plot of good land and a dream of greater self-sufficiency, then I hope these resources will inspire you to start planning your suburban or urban homestead now!

91 thoughts on “How Much Land Do You Really Need to Be Self Sufficient?”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

  1. Hi, we are looking at a plot of land of 1,700m – would this be enough to grow food and have chickens? Would a goat or two be possible? We want to be as self sufficient as possible, however land is so expensive.
    Thank you for your advice.

    1. That will depend entirely on the land you have and how good it is for growing crops and livestock. I suggest you pick up one of the books mentioned to help you determine what will work best for your land and the region you are in.

  2. David Thompson

    If you rejected the idea of having solar panels, wind-farms and Oil based fuels which obviously involves factories/plastics/industrialization etc and therefore had to factor in wood burners to generate heat, cook on etc. How big would your ‘wood/forest’ need to be in order to sustain a family of 4 year on year (tree crop rotation)? How big would your plot then need to be?

  3. get Goats instead of a Cow, because Cows are inefficient – finally someone admits it! i could *scream* every time i read someone raving about a ‘plumb diary cow’ and how much manure they produce – totally ignoring the need to by food to get them through the winter, a large stable and whatnot. Goats, like pigs, are Mother Natures garbage disposal and will eat almost every plant matter your garden produces, whether its weeds or cuttings, and only need a leanto to your chicken coop or garden shedd

  4. 13 Chickens? That is 8 too many! A decent production chicken will lay 5-6 eggs a week all year round. Yes she’ll only last 1-1.5 years but even a rare breed egg layer will give you 5 eggs a week for half a year. (my oldest girl is rising 4 and still doing this) 1 chicken per person and one extra one would be quite enough for four people.

  5. I wonder how little can we consume to still fulfill us (if/when necessary), reducing the need for extra space and allowing animals to be able to thrive and occupy more space as well? Naturally of course, not trying incubate them if they don’t want to mate.

  6. Also, you have to consider that to have the best crops, you will need to rotate crops. What I would have is movable fences for the animals. The animals would have the same amount of land as the crops. Every season or every other season I would move the animals to where the crops are and the crops to where the animals were. This would be self fertilizing and would put more nutrients in the soil to make the crops grow better.

  7. You know that you don’t need a big piece of land to become self sufficient.
    Having a house where you can place solar panels on the rooftop and a small piece of land (up to 50 square meters) is enough to generate electricity and build your own veggies garden in the vertical plan.

  8. In my case, I can say that the land that I bought (6,500 square feet) is more than enough for me and my family to have a house on it, but also enough space to create a garden full of vegetables and fruits, a playground for kids and also plenty of space to raise livestock and poultry (hens, rabbits and so on).
    The house has a part of the rooftop facing south, so it is perfect for a solar panel system.
    At the back corner of the yard I can even install a pretty large windturbine because the area has very good winds all year long.

  9. Hi,
    This study does not calculate space by including how much food animals need to eat.
    207 sq feet is just for the piggery, but how much food those pigs need in order to grow to adequate size?

    1. I suggest consulting one of the recommended books for details on that—and not rely on an infographic. Each type of livestock will have its own space and food requirements.

    2. My pigs gets 3 kg per day each. I cook up a cereal porridge with milk from the dairy. In season they get veges from the garden. This year I’m planting sweet potato (900 square meters), and sweet corn. Hopefully that will replace the cereal.

  10. If you go to the FAQ on Urban Homestead, they clearly state that they do not produce all their own food. Most of a person’s diet comes from staple crops such as wheat (flour), rice, corn, potatoes, soybeans, sugar. They buy most of these things as stated on their web site. Or if a homestead raises animals to grow their own meat, usually for animal welfare concerns and better tasting food, they usually still buy those staple grains to feed their animals, in the form of 50 pound bags of feed (mostly soy, corn, wheat, etc). Most people growing corn and soy do use a diesel powered tractor too I think. Maybe the Amish or groups like them really grow everything themselves, with horses to help them, but that’s really the only example I can think of.

    1. To be totally self-sufficient, like the Amish, is beyond what most people really want. Few truly want to grow and spin/weave their own cotton or wool clothing, etc. But if you can provide most of your food (especially if you eat grain and dairy free like we do), and maybe even create an income on the surplus too—that is quite an accomplishment. And even growing grains like wheat and corn, it can be done on much less land than you think. 🙂

      1. I would love to see more information on having a completely self-sustaining garden with enough left over to earn a good income, and that is still completely meat and grain free. Sounds like you’re living that way now. Do you have anything showing how you’re doing that, and on how much land?

        1. I do not actually live that way currently, but the books I cited can help you calculate that yourself, because it will vary greatly depending on the quality of the land, the climate, and other local factors. My garden only provides about half my produce, and I buy other fruit, meat, eggs and dairy at the store, farmer’s market or through my local buying club.

      2. As one of the few who desire to be truly self sustaining, I do also process fibers, spin and felt yarn and garments. This is one way I make an extra income, both by simply processing wool and selling naturally dyed, carded fibers, as well as hand-spun yarn and garments that I knit and felt. Sheep are more mild mannered than goats and most breeds have finer hair that can be harvested and sold. Otherwise consider a fiber producing variety of goat like mohair or cashmere.

    2. Charles Dowding does a great series of YouTube videos, including growing enough wheat for his own use. There are lots of excelling, space-saving techniques in these. Give him a look over, you’ll like them for sure.

    3. True, BUT does bread really provide you with that many calories and nutrients? We eat bread because we have been raised and conditioned to make it part of our diet, but when you think about it, a sandwich is merely a snack. A typical human main meal of the day incorporates potatoes, veggies and a protein source. I know from my country’s history that it is completely possible to survive on a patch of potatoes, wild leaf vegetables and a couple of grass-fed goats. The gluten intolerant people don’t eat grains at all so I imagine that it could be possible to live entirely without grains. As for the sugar, with a couple of beehives you can replace sugar completely with honey. I’m not suggesting that we should abandon growing grains, I’m just saying that there are a lot of various, original alternatives to our standard way of living.

      1. Cynthia ANN Browning

        I agree. I have never been a bread – cereal person. currently I catch fish, grow veggies and a fig tree. my neighbor gives me fresh eggs in return I give her hens all my scraps.
        mainly I buy soap, toilet paper, coffee and spices.

  11. I agree with Greg here. The term self sufficient surely means you do not depend on the outside world for your food and energy requirements! Three pigs and a bunch of chickens surely require at least ten times the amount of land to grow the food to then feed the animals compared to if we used that land to grow a plant based diet. Sourcing the animal feed from else where is hardly self sufficiency. I am wondering when this holistic view of the total amount of land required to put the calories on the table will come into the ideas surrounding self-sufficiency??? It’s about time we all realised the funcional of animals on a farm from an ecological view point. The bottom line is we must start to take into account the square footage required to grow the animal feed when comparing the area of land needed to be self sufficient. When we do it becomes obvious that a plant-based diet is ten times more efficient in the area of land required to grow the same amount of calories, its as simple as that…

  12. Are you really self sustaining if you buy fertilizer and need to run the tap to water your garden? I think you kidding yourself. There is a reason that our earliest civilisations sprouted up from areas near water and/or good rainfall. It can be done but there are thousands of factors to consider. Chickens. Pretty much essential on any homestead especially as mobile fertilizer factories but keep two things in mind. They need to be fed and they are omnivores. They eat anything and everything including all your plants. Now you need to think about plants to feed the chickens. Finally, they can fly and sometimes very well!

  13. Waterplants are of great interest to me. Has anyone tried raising these for food ?? Have two fish tanks being created for rising of edible plants as well as for plant filtered, o2 rich; sun blessed drinking water. Looking for any info on water/aquarium plants or food.
    sutherbyg at yahoo com THANK YOU Garey

  14. Sprouting anyone ?? A huge amount of food can be grown on a counter top or table. Magical food with roots and all !! Little or no extra light; you can do this is a rental, or even in a back pack.

  15. self sufficiency means less tax revenue for the government. They would never let this fly or teach these principles in their schools.

  16. Why does everyone think that you need to have these plants be exclusive from each other? I grow 4 crops in the same bed. At the least you can grow 3 crops together. I produce enough fruit and veggies for my family of 5 off of a less than a quarter acre. We can everything we don’t eat during harvest season and I have pasta sauce and canned apples from last year still.

    1. Some plants you should actually grow together. They complement each other. Assuming you no longer buy fertilizer you will need to know how to source natural fertilizer. Chicken poo being the best.

  17. Becoming a bit more self-sufficient, to the extent one is interested and able, is a good thing on many levels. Double dug beds are just one way of getting more food out of a small space. Permaculture techniques, vertical gardening, and other methods can help you produce even more, if you are so inclined. The addition of livestock in a permaculture system can also help with nutrient cycling and other homestead needs.

    There are lots of people who have mastered relative self-sufficiency on a small plot of land. Can (or should) we all be self-sufficient? No, but just because you have not done it yourself does not mean it can’t be done.

    I studied personally under Jeavons, and the productivity on his farm institute in California is something to behold! Also the Urban Homestead in LA is an mind-boggling example of what is possible in a tiny space. Will Allen’s Growing Power urban farm in Milwaukee is another example of outrageous food output in a very small space.

    The United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) has found that small and medium farms using agroecological and regenerative/permaculture methods are not only some of the most productive food systems, but the only ones that are genuinely sustainable, can sequester carbon, regenerate ecosystems and take us into a post-fossil fuel world.

    According to the UNFAO, industrial farming only provides 30% of the world’s food currently, and in the full cost accounting (inputs, petrol, carbon and methane pollution, etc.) it actually does it very inefficiently: 30 calories in for just one calorie out. Finally, industrial ag and biotech is producing mostly inedible commodities like livestock feed, ethanol and corn syrup, and not actually “feeding the world” at all. Though the propaganda would have everyone believing otherwise, the data doesn’t actually support industrial ag as the way forward at all.

    The science is there that regenerative farming can indeed “feed the world” (though the very concept is specious; hunger has never been about food shortages). Bless the pioneering regenerative farmers that will take us there.

  18. I have a garden. I have read John Jeavons’s book. It is a pipe dream to think you can grow enough food on so little land. Although his system requires that you generate enough compostable plants, he admits his system only “cuts down” on the outside soil amendments that you will need. I have watched all his videos and he veritably drenches his vegetable beds and compost piles with water, so much for drought resistance. Growing his vegetables very close together is the “intensive” part of his system. The intensive composting, plant placement and watering really makes this system unsustainable. I do double-dig my beds, though. My vegetables like that. But with the global population heading for 9 billion in 2050 and 12 billion by 2100, we aren’t going to feed everyone on a subsistence level. Modern farming methods and biotechnology are the only way to feed so many people. Have you hugged a farmer recently?

    1. Or we could just transition to more plant based diet…increasing food production efficiency dramatically and reducing the extensive suffering inherent in our current modes of food production.

    2. Trust me. The world population won’t reach 9 Billion. Within 2 – 5 years it will be below 1 billion. We have hit the limits and collapse isn’t coming any more. It’s arrived. Of course your TV will tell everything is fine. Like the chicken running around with its head cut off is just fine. It’s frightening how much we have forgotten pre the industrial electrical age. We should be frantically re-educating ourselves back to the ways of old instead of pursuing this pipe dream that any of this so called civilisation is sustainable. because it isn’t.

      1. I need only mention examples, small or large-scale, using one or more of things like green energy, recycling, biodegradable mulch, bioplastics and agricultural regulation to point out that a better, and eventually sustainable, solution is possible, if people will it — and that’s just off the top of my head.

        That’s more desirable than pre-industrial age technology and lifestyles, mostly due to the fact that people were suffering even worse back then, but also due to the fact that humans were changing the climate way before the industrial age was ever in action:

        I’ve never found it useful, in the first place, for anyone to proclaim that something is a “pipe dream” — absolute possibility evaluation isn’t in the realm of anyone who isn’t omnipotent and connected to the core of reality, understanding every single variable — and certainly not a subjectively perceiving being like a person.

        At most, one can only evaluate what is most and least likely to be feasible or desirable based on presently available information and one’s philosophy.

        People who condemn, without a logical explanation and statistical measurement where available, those trying to go for a uncharted territory, are simply realists condemning other realists for pursuing an ideal they deny — while themselves pursuing ideals that are often much more destructive than those they condemn.

  19. I LOVED this article! I don’t have a farming background so I may have to ease myself into raising my own meat but I am so excited!

    1. Raising animals humanely for meat will take a bit more space than this infographic shows, but the books mentioned are great references to get started. Chickens for eggs are probably the simplest way to get started and they take very little room at all. Good luck!

  20. Bangladesh Land to man ration is unseal in global scale, water scarcity, rapid urbanization, environment/ecosystem degradation will led a catastrophic situation in future, only Hydroponics and Aquaponics system would resolve the future on win-win way.

  21. Is there a way to print your “How Big a Back Yard” info-graphic full size? I did it once before and I literally wore it out. I’d love to have a fresh copy for reference.

  22. Thank you so much for sharing this info. I found 2 of the recommended books at my public library and placed a hold on them. I can’t wait to start reading!

  23. just wanted to mention to all, that i have been looking at aquaponics. you can grow all the veggies you need in a very small area with a green house and a fish tank. it is pretty amazing. i think if you were to add this type if growing into your homesteads it would free up space for the animals and you can grow all year long, even in cold climates and arid climates because it is a circulating system.

    1. Absolutely!!! (where’s the “like” button!) 🙂 Aquaculture or aquaponics is a Permaculture strategy to conserve water for growing food, and extending the season.

      Thanks so much for sharing that!!

    2. I agree! Aquaponics is truly an amazing way to grow almost anything. It can be just a small set-up inside your home or scaled up big for real sustainability. Even selling some of what you produce. You can grow up to 10 times the amount of produce that you could on the same area of garden space.

      And, of course it is much cleaner – making it ideal for an indoor gardener. Here is some more info on Aquaponics:

      1. Nice concept. Thanks for the link, which provided a very helpful introduction. I just wish there wasn’t so much anti-scientific GMO fear-mongering up front in the video. Being self-sufficient and reducing the environmental damage of conventional agriculture (organic or not) should be enough motivation.

    3. uhm….ok but how much space are you dedicating to growing the “fish food” which is providing the fertilizer for your plants?

      1. There are many of sources of organic fertilizer: compost, livestock manure, seaweed and fish remains (if that is local for you), etc. If you add an aquaponics system to your homestead and raise tilapia (space willing), then you’ll have food and fertilizer! The permaculture books listed in the post offer plenty of ideas for sourcing local and sustainable fertilizers.

        1. I know this is an older post and I’m new to your blog.

          But, just fyi to those interested in an additional income stream:

          Please check which feeds are acceptable per your local regulations for fish farming. If you’re not selling them, you can feed them whatever you like, I suppose. However, if you plan on selling fish, you often cannot feed them fish remains or any type of manure. There are other feeds you could produce on your own, but you would need to research which is best for the health of the fish and the end product, as well as the space/time/expense of each.

      2. While this doesn’t state how much area you’d need for growing your own fish food, it does have a good bit of information in it for supplementing commercial fish food with homegrown items. It doesn’t take much space to grow out a bin of worms, black fly maggots, etc. You can find info in regards to both of those on sites geared towards raising chickens. In a larger aquaponics system you may be able to grow out some type of shrimp as well. I know brine shrimp eggs are readily available for the home aquarium. I hope this helps…it’s a forum message board so lots of commentary to read through.

    4. Permaculture Trees

      I have been growing in aquaponics for 7 years now and I can tell him you that more plants can be grown in AP especially if you use the right combination of plants to fill in all the gaps. However, as long as your fish feed is purchased then it’s not sustainable at all. Further, you will still need 800-1000 square feet of grow bed to actually produce all the veggies you”need”. I challenge you to eat only veggies from a system and see how long it takes to starve.. I have found a solution in free range ducks with no feed and bio-ponics. Duck eggs and combucha complete the diet. The setup cost as well as on going cost is subsequently higher than growing in the ground. It is however one part of the puzzle. The second part of the puzzle lies in the fact that we don’t get all of the energy within veggies or meat due to undigestability and digestion energy. Nutrients are locked up also and so only a small part of the energy is delivered to our cells. This is not true of fruit however. Fruits, berries,and melons provide a complete amino acid profile, do not require much insulin response and 90%’ish is delivered to our cells…. When more energy is delivered less is required and therefore less growing space… Check out Dr Morse ND for a better explanation..

  24. Thanks so much for the post! My husband and I are saving to buy a homestead and didn’t want to buy a house just to realize that we didn’t have enough land for it. This gives a great insight to how much you really need.

    Check out my blog at:

  25. This was sounding good until I noticed how much area was allowed for the animals. You’re going to keep each pig in a 3 x 3 ft. area?? Each goat in a 10 x 10 ft. area, & 13 chickens in a 6.5 x 10 ft. area? You have GOT to be kidding. That is ultra cruel! Almost as bad as factory farming. Or maybe it is. You need to amend your plan before you have people trying to do this! Also, goats don’t graze like cows, they wander from tree to tree, rosebush to rosebush & berry vine to berry vine. And this many chickens in this space would be pecking each other bloody. Thanks but no thanks.

    1. Um, this is not my infographic or my plan, it is merely meant to be an example of what is possible. If you read the rest of the article, you’ll see you need to make your own plan to fit your own land and to meet the needs of the animals you intend to keep. It is certainly possible to be fully self-sustaining on less than 2 acres, even with a few animals. Backyard Homestead will enable you to create a sustainable system that works for you.

      1. it’s true that the main error in this infographic is the lack of grazing space for critters. the amount of space allotted for the animals is sufficient for their Safe Shelter and/or Winter Shelter (if you live somewhere where winter means no green growth), but grazing space and even just space for more movement is needed overall. this can happen cooperatively with neighbors, or by planning extra space on your lot. also, if you fence correctly all three kinds of animals mentioned could be rotated safely with Careful timing through gardens, fruit trees, etc.

        1. Good point, Joan. Rotational grazing is beneficial in more ways than one as each species utilizes different vegetation and works to keep the parasite load down. Long story so just google it. If you are going to incorporate rabbits into your plan you can also use vermiculture with red wigglers, creating not only compost but a protein source for your poultry. Again, it’s all online to read. This was all common knowledge to our forefathers and has since been mostly lost due to corporate farming and urbanization. It is up to us to reintegrate it before that knowledge is lost.

    2. This infographic is a bit scrunched in the room for animals category. If you buy your wheat in bulk and only buy corn for the table and put the square footage alloted for those two crops with the square footage alloted for the animals then you get 15,024 square feet of pasture. If managed with rotational mixed animal foraging and intensive pasture management then you can maintain goats, pigs and chickens easily in that amount of space with minimal input. Divide that space up into 7 paddocks and rotate your animals every couple of days to the next one. This will give each 2000+ sq ft paddock about 2 weeks to recover before they are grazed again. Remember, goats don’t graze grass as much as they browse…bushes, vines, etc. Plant things in the pasture that they like to forage. Pigs eat kitchen scraps and are omnivores. Feed them whey leftover from processing the goat milk. If you don’t want goats, you can get a few sheep instead and gain a commodity item in wool. Plus, I personally think the nutrition profile is better on sheep’s milk than goat. I’m planning on about a dozen different types of livestock and birds and we’ll be buying 5 acres – we want cows and horses too.

  26. this came up at the right time 🙂 I just posted about our adventures in front yard gardening. Will share on Friday’s linky, but here it is.

  27. Shannon@MishmashMama

    I am just learning about homesteading, and I am leaning into it. I am so happy to have all this information on using smaller spaces!

  28. looks cool, but what about water? we live on 2.5 acres and even with our own well, have a hard time getting crops to grow without daily irrigation. Plus, I’ve had to make raised beds for those crops as well. Like the idea, would like more information on making it work in hot, arid climates.

    1. Gaia’s Garden and any good book on Permaculture address conserving and using water on your smallholding homestead. Permaculture was created in the Australian desert, and has a lot of techniques to offer for dealing with dry, hot climates.

    2. Micro-irrigation kits are available at most home improvement stores. You can buy the tubing and fittings individually, too. This is what we did for my mini orchard and it was less than $100. They have timers, etc., if you would want to spend the extra money. they work well and help conserve water. You can use tent stakes to secure them and even mow over them if the mower isn’t set too low.

    3. In hot arid climates it helps to do trench gardening-go down 8-12 inches and then water and use lots of straw or grass clippings at least 4 inches to keep is moist.
      Hope this helps.

  29. There is a book called”THE JESUS FAMILY IN COMMUNIST CHINA” . It’s on amazon or search google. I have not read the book , but was told on another page I was reading that these people raised all own food on 1/16 of an acre , when the govt. of China said you needed 1/4 an acre. I thought it would be interesting to read.

  30. France @ Beyond The Peel

    Thank you Dawn for sharing this post at Beyond The Peel. I loved it! It’s so wonderful to know how we can start being more self sufficient right with very little. We just need to “want” to do it. I’m sharing this with the community at Keep It Real Thursdays this week. Thanks again Dawn for the great book recommendations and information. If we ever move to San Diego, we’ll be in touch !

  31. When deciding how much land you think you’ll need don’t forget to factor in rest time. The infographic above is fun and catchy, but land needs time to do nothing to produce well for you. Especially if you’re keeping animals.

  32. Small farming can be hard work, but life on the land is rewarding no matter how big or small you are.
    Making a living on less than 2 acres will work easier in the south, but here in the north you need more room for trees and livestock. When you have livestock here in the north country you need room for barns to protect the animals from the cold and store winter feed. If you manage your wood lot you will have enough fallen branches and dead trees to heat your buildings.

  33. Great post. Never thought of being self sufficient but this post will come handy, the day I will think of becoming one. 🙂

  34. annie @ montanasolarcreations

    My husband and I were just talking this last week how to expand our gardens and trying to figure out how much land we need to be more self-sufficient so this post was so helpful! I actually was just reading reviews of some of the books you mentioned before I saw this post so I definitely think I’m going to to buy some of them. I would love if you would share this post at Simply Natural Saturdays

  35. Great informations, thanks for sharing! I live in the Northeast where we get plenty of snow and have heard that roof top solar panels are not great because you have to clear them off constantly… How would free standing solar panels change the amount of space you need?

    1. Simply figure out the needed square footage for your free-standing solar system and add that in. (Every system is unique and made for your needs, so I can’t be more specific.) It will take some space from potential gardens because both your solar panels and your crops will need full sun all day, but solar systems are not usually that large. 2 acres should be MORE than enough.

  36. we have just under 3 acres in far southwestern NC. We raise all our own produce and most of our fruits (a lot of the fruit is wild.) We also raise laying hens, meat birds, turkeys, pigs, 3 jersey cows, are adding rabbits, and have had dairy goats. now tha being said our land is on the side of a mountain. not favorable o farming. the soil is rocky clay. we are are lucky though because we are surrounded by 100’s of acres of wilderness. Our birds all free range. we dont feed them in the spring-fall at all they have so many bugs and greens to eat. our pigs eat garden and table scraps and pasture. one day when our cow are in milk they will get the excess. the cows are grazing all grass and hay. we do buy hay since we have so little pasture. We do plan to grow more supplemental feed for the animals next year. We were busy finishing up our home this year but YES it can be done. We have no mortgage and live on less than 24k a year with two small kids and we live very very well!!!! NOthing is more rewarding than looking out your door at your animals and hard work.

      1. thank you. we just set goals. the first was to be able to spend as much time with our children as possible, the second was to live within our means, and third was to know as much about our food as we possibly could we dont have tv or cell phones. you choose what is important. our 3 yr old helps when we slaughter the chickens and appreciates her food so much more I think. instead of ipads and whatever the hot gift is we save for something to enrich our farm. it all started in earthbox containers on a 1/8 acre plot back in FL. I will say that you will find a lot of people pushing you in the commercial AG direction. we always think of nature and try to emulate it as much as possible. Look at Joel Salatin. Its a lot less expensive and the animals are happier and healthier.

    1. That’s beautiful and quite inspiring–best of wishes for your family. Just curious, you said you produce all your produce/most of fruits, and you also raise a lot of poultry (some for meat consumption). Living mortgage free, does your 24K/year go toward grains/feed,energy demands(or are you offgrid)–just feels that 24K a year makes it seem like you need that sort of money despite providing for yourself and taking care of most of your needs. Am I missing something here? Thanks you, I hope this isn’t too uncomfortable to answer, cheers 🙂

    2. $24K is actually quite a lot if your are self sufficient and have no mortgage. Are you buying feed or fertilizer?

  37. Thanks so much for sharing at Wednesday’s Adorned From Above Blog Hop!
    Debi @ Adorned From Above
    Angie @ God’s Growing garden

  38. Danielle @ Analytical Mom

    This is good motivation to do some more planning for next year’s garden! Just wondering if the line through Gaia’s Garden was intentional? I think it is my next book purchase. 🙂

  39. Rose @ Walnut Acre

    I love this layout and it’s so encouraging to see what can be done with just one acre. We have just slightly over one acre and I’m just starting on the journey to turn it into as much of a self sufficient homestead as possible.

  40. It’s really apparent how much land is necessary for raising grasses when it looks like it would be better to have pasture devoted to raising animals–think of the bison and what they contributed to the great plains. Currently I try to grow as much as possible on a city lot and with others are trying to get bylaws changed to allow chicken keeping. A good blog about trying to minimize the cost of chicken keeping is

    1. Great link!!! Thank you for sharing it!

      Hopefully soon, chicken keeping will be legal and regulated in all cities, and cooperative extension services will offer classes on how to do it right, nurseries will carry supplies, etc. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

  41. Nancy@livininthegreen

    Thanks for the motivation to grow more of our own food. Our lot is just under 6000 square feet. We’ve been growing many of our own veggies for years now. We’ve downsized our gardens, but would be interested in growing more. I will be checking out your resources…thanks for the post! 🙂

  42. This is great! Every year I make my garden a little bit bigger and start another self sufficiency project 🙂 Next spring I’m hoping to start with bees! I would love to have you join the Wildcrafting Wednesday hop again tomorrow! I really enjoyed your article last time about how organic gardening can save the world!



Learn everything you need to start composting, including a list of 100 things you can take out of your trash and put into your compost pile instead.


Get your book FREE today when you sign up for the Season's Harvest quarterly newsletter!

ipad cover art for 100 Things You Can Compost


Get refreshing new ideas to save money and live greener and healthier every day.
Join Small Footprint Family on your favorite social network!