The classic question asked by nearly all newbies to self reliance is: “How much space do I need to feed my family from my own land?”
The problem with the food GURUs is that NONE of them really like to answer this question. They tell you, “It depends on your soil type, climate zone, number of people, tools available, length of growing season, etc.” While this advice is true…
If I hear it one more time I’m going to puke.
Because it’s utterly useless advice. Look… I know it depends. Everything on this earth depends on circumstances… that’s not why we ask the question. We’re asking the question because we’re trying to be realistic. We don’t want to set goals that are impossible. We want to start with the facts and then work backwards to see if our goals are attainable.
The Problem With Gardening Gurus
Gardeners on the whole don’t seem to be very NUMBERS oriented.
Farmers are… but farmers grow food in a very different way than we look to do on our own property for our own family.
What we’re really after are working examples of gardeners & homesteaders who have built self-sustaining food production systems that we can model.
But even when we find them, we still run into problems because most of these people run businesses. In and of itself this is not a problem. I’m not one of those leftist anti-business guys. But where it does present a problem is in economics…
For example, let’s say a farmer knows how to grow all his own grain for his chickens, along with fertilizers and compost for his garden to keep his soil fertile and productive.
If that farmer is selling those things he’s growing, he cannot make his own feed on a small scale homestead and still keep his prices competitive with the guy feeding SUPER cheap grains to his chickens out of a feedbag. Click here to see how much more expensive it can be to grow your own food. The incredible efficiency of grain harvesters and cheap fertilizers just doesn’t make the math work. So to stay competitive, those farmers usually buy their feed.
The same goes for keeping his soil productive with fertilizers & compost. It’s almost always cheaper to buy fertilizers and compost then to create those things themselves. This is because there are businesses who specialize in producing those products who have a much more streamlined system for producing them at lower costs than the farmer.
Again, I have no problems with a farmer’s decision to operate that way. I think they might be setting themselves up for real sustainability problems in the very near future, but that’s a topic for another day. However, using farming data does present a problem when you need to know things like, “How Much Space Do I Need To Dedicate To Growing The Feed For A Dozen Chickens?” Or… “How much space do I need to sacrifice in my yard for composting fodder to keep my soil fertile?”
These farmers don’t usually have those answer, because they don’t do it… it’s just too expensive and time intensive.
So what you need to look for are people who grow their own food and DON’T sell it… and who track those critical numbers like:
- How much land was required to feed their whole family
- Space required for composting fodder, winter chicken feed or rabbit hay
- How much water they had to store to meet irrigation requirements
I am personally doing this myself in the Maritime climate in the Pacific northwest, and hope to share these kinds of details with you… however, I am just starting and have no data to share. Stay tuned.
Most people don’t go this deep.
However, here’s someone who does…
Introducing Marjory Wildcraft of GrowYourOwnGroceries.com
Marjory Wildcraft is the creator of a phenomenal DVD series on how to Grow Your Own Groceries. And she does give you those specific answers about how much land you need to feed a family… along with the specifics of a lot of other things. Like how much acreage it takes to sustainably raise cows & chickens.
It really should be one of the first purchases anyone makes if you’re serious about growing as much of your family’s food as possible.
But it might not be for the reasons you’d think.
In my opinion her DVD series gives a wonderful conceptual view of how to lay out a self-sustaining food system. It’s presented in a way that highlights smaller self-contained systems that you can model for yourself.
For example… Marjory has 2 dairy cows and talks about how to raise them in a self-sustaining manner. But she also has systems for producing rabbit meat, chicken eggs, fertilizing orchards with geese, gardening and even a perennial food forest system (all though that section isn’t very in depth as it’s a new development for her). So if you live in an average suburban backyard, and can’t work with cows, rabbits and ducks, you can skip those systems and just get an overview of the gardening system.
I guess what I’m trying to say is her instructions and models are scalable. If you only have a small property you can take pieces of her system and use them, and the more space you have available the more systems you can stack onto your property
What I really like, especially because it matches our style here at ThePrepperProject.com was that she shows you what failed in her planning, like:
- Limits on rain caught water strategies
- Changes she had to make to her irrigation systems that wasted water in her Texas climate.
- Why she had to change the position of her garden 3 different times
- Why she had to plant trees in her garden beds to prevent some crops from failing.
- Why she no longer raises meat chickens
- and much, much, more…
It’s these mistakes that bring the most value, since they help you avoid critical mistakes that can be recovered from in good times, but would be catastrophic when the SHTF.
And while all those are great, the thing that impressed me most about her DVD series was the bonuses included on the third disc. She doesn’t really talk about them when I made the decision to get the DVD, but they are incredible. Marjory has essentially gone out and found very specific blueprints and guidelines for building all the systems that are required to produce food in a self reliant way.
- Plans for how to install a new septic system so it fertilizes an orchard properly
- How to purify water from the seeds of a very useful tree
- Blueprints for root cellar designs for keeping food through winter if the grid goes down
- Dietary requirements in backyard rabbit production
… and that’s just to name a few.
There’s literally another 64 blueprints, articles and documents that she has rounded up, and they are all on very serious topics, no fluff here.
If you’re looking to build a backyard or homestead food production system, then I wholeheartedly recommend that you pick up her DVD series. If you’re new to growing food, you’ll gain a really good perspective of mistakes that can be avoided through good design, plus there are lots of productive design ideas you’ll want to implement even if you’re a food growing veteran.
Marjory Wildcraft’s DVD series is available at GrowYourOwnGroceries.com