How Big Is Too Big - Minimum and maximum land size

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by u_bolt_mozz, May 24, 2003.

  1. u_bolt_mozz

    u_bolt_mozz Guest

    As a hobbyist of many years I am thinking about the minimum size piece of land required to provide that neat little balance between being able to handle to property quickly by hand but not to small that you can't have your little Noahs Ark of activity categories on it.

    I'm thinking 5 acres.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. Chook Nut

    Chook Nut Junior Member

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    Hi Mozz,

    As i am in the hunt for acerage i am going through a similar thought process.

    It is most likely that i will buy property together with my brother and sister (hopefully) and try to work a small scale yet intensive organic farm.

    I would like to do it mainly for self-sustainability but the thought of their being a need for quality food is driving me to seek it as a business; and therefore the consideration of the size of land i am interested in.

    I feel anything from 2 to 5 acres would be within my capability, but with extra help i would consider 10 to 20 acres for intensive work.

    Have you visited many permaculture farms? This would be something i would suggest before going ahead with land purchase.... unless you have a very clear idea in mind. The post i did on Jade Woodhouse farm tour has helped me scale down how much land i 'need' to follow through with my aspirations and dreams :)

    good luck and let us know how you get on

    Dave
     
  3. Guest

    Yeah I reckon about 5 acres is about right - particularly if you want a bit of space and not get too hemmed in - nonetheless it is fairly subjective and relative to the land, soil, climate, skill base and enterprise outputs anticipated. 5 acres gives the ability to plant a reasonable size woodlot and have some grazing/browsing animals. David Holmgren and Su Dennett's place is one hectare and has all of the above - however it is very intensive with management to match - the nature of the place demands it. The message I give to all of our clients is to not get too carried away on any size property if you aren't in a position to manage what you install....Also consider closely what will happen to what you do when you leave - by either death or change of ownership/generation.

    Cheers,

    DD
     
  4. d_donahoo

    d_donahoo Junior Member

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    we've got roughly 8 acres (treed) that we are currently working on.

    we actually will only be using 2-3 for an intensive zone 1 & 2 permaculture system. this will include our food needs, dam, water systems...etc...

    managing the rest as using sustainable forest methods - we will harvets for our energy needs (wood), replant endangered species and create suitable environs for wildlife.

    over time we may expand out a little (depends on advice we get from permaculture experts). currently i see only livestock as chooks...but who knows. i like the idea of focussing on getting well established with zone 1 first and then, once the gardens are established looking to add animals that suit our needs.

    intrestingly the 5-10 acre blocks in centeral vic go for almost as much as the 20-40 acre. so they are in high demand at that size.

    i know many people on larger blacks, but again - only use a small section of this.
     
  5. Peter Warne

    Peter Warne Junior Member

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    Interesting question - how big is too big. I speak as a total novice in permaculture or any sort of land management, and at retirement age.

    Seeing the discussion on property size I am wondering if we were reckless putting our savings into a 14 acre block - i.e. is it going to be just too much for me and wife Gigi to handle? We bought it because the setting is absolutely beautiful and it has a nice little house on it. We are both quite energetic and ok with doing manual type jobs, having renovated everything except the brick walls (and I mean everything) in the house we lived in for 15 years in Melbourne. But how will that transfer to 14 acres with a few trees and a heap of deep grass?

    The idea is to start with the house and zone 1 - and that alone will keep us busy for a year or six. What I am hoping is that we can get some sustainable forestry on the rest which will keep the grass down and not require highly intensive labour - once established. All of that including fire management and water management as priorities.

    So my question after this meandering story is: is our goal feasible or are we crazy?

    Peter
     
  6. Chook Nut

    Chook Nut Junior Member

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    Hi Peter,

    It keeps going over in my mind how much land do i really need, will i cut myself short by getting too little or will i get myself in too deep.

    One of the things i have come accross here is that a lot of acerage is already on two titles. I think that is the type of land i will look for or if its on one title, put it on two so i can sell off the other one to another keen permie person if need be. I like the idea of having those options.

    As Bill says, "the problem is the solution". By the sounds of it you will have plenty of time to think of the solution. Happy retirement :)

    Dave
     
  7. d_donahoo

    d_donahoo Junior Member

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    my new next door neighbour told me that he had an ongoing joke with David Holmgren that permaculture is a revolutionary concept, the only problem is it isn't susitainable.

    his experience of trying to plant out a 40 acre property while working fulltime to pay for it obviously took its toll.

    i don't think the size of the land matters as much as the approach you take.

    i won't subdivide any block...i may though - if the right relationship comes along invite others to come and share the land we are lucky to be custodians of for a while. 'sharing the surplus' is the principle i apply.

    but 14 acres is fine. if a well planned and managed 1/2 acre is what you start with. like it has been suggest on the list - start in the kitchen - darren's idea of a 'kitchen garden' is the perfect next step. and if you find that actually means you can live off a $100 a week, which is local farm hand work you can pick up around the place - or through some home-based consulting work - or whatever. then there is no real need to proceed...of course you will. but do it in manageable chunks.

    permaculture is not planting a three acre orchard, or an olive grove that will take a lot of close attention and two/three years to establish if you are travelling 2 hours a day to work fulltime to pay for the land you've just planted.

    'keep is small and slow' - another permaculture principle. it appears the people attracted to permaculture are usually 'big picture' people...who want to save the world, plant out a rainforest and feed their local community all in a couple of years. having visited many permaculturalists now i realise the successful ones are those who take their time, don't rush. do only what they can manage, compromise where they have to and have resliance in the face of the many disappointments along the way.

    so if it is a 1/4 acre or 20 acres. treat the land with the respect it deserves. treat it well and it will treat you well.

    and read the back page of the most recent owner builder magazine for an excellent definition of sustainability.

    cheers
     
  8. icewalker_au

    icewalker_au Guest

    Hi everyone, I tried to add my bit last night, but doesn't seem to have worked.


    We found a title of 320ac that we could afford, that had gullies to put dams in, native forest for timber for building structures and wildlife habitat, as well as some semi-cleared areas we could develop for buildings and food production. I am slowing working on the area around the house - about 5ha for our zone 1 and zone 2/zone 3. The rest I am using just as a forest area, where I can harvest firewood, native bushfoods, walk and meditate. I have lived in cities for many years after growing up in the country, and wanted some space with peace and quiet around us. At present I have to travel away for 2 days per week for work, but this will end next year, with 2 days per week local work. I am working from out back door out slowly, working on producing our own food first, and planting the food forest for future food production.
     
  9. Jeff Nugent

    Jeff Nugent Junior Member

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    Sometimes one needs the extra land to maintain water security or water quality, or buffer against neighbours, etc. Extra land is always a liability though. More inputs reqd.
     
  10. alextacy

    alextacy Junior Member

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    As an add on to this topic, have many people had much experience with sharing land with others. The old PC saying - Community Efficiency, not self sufficiency makes sense in theory, however does it work well in practice?

    Extra hands for greater labour input means that systems can become more intensive in less time (& also more productive?), but how have people fared in their relationships with those sharing the land with them (esp when it comes to family!)?
     

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