How many acres could a family of 6 people live off?

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by Hossein_Turner, Jul 17, 2011.

  1. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    Well, what of dairy goats in that same 1/2 acre in a mixed food forest system w/ fowl?
     
  2. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    when calculating grazing rate i convert goats to 1/2 beast size so in the case where PP has a grazing rate of 1:5 acres best season probably going to go out to 1:7 or so in worst season, then you might run 2 goats per 5 acres, again lots of variable to consider like rainfall, and soil fertility and supply of water. graziers often over stock in the good seasons but then they milk it for what they can get and overgraze too long after the good season has ended denuding the pasture and causing lots of errosion, a vicious circle. so even in a situation of 1:5 you still need to have that bit more so you can rotate grazing. chooks a different thing you have them or you don't. so a cow needs to go to calf every what is it? 18 months maybe, then you have that calf to feed up for whatever purpose, food or for sale more grass eaten.

    len
     
  3. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    You might do a goat if you majored in fodder trees in the food forest. There are some ways to import stuff that sit with me. We used to leave a big box at the Organic shop and they put outer leaves from cabbages and older veg and fruit in it and we would pick it up each day. You need to be going past each day on your bike to make it work.
     
  4. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    yep comapring goatgs and cows different cows graze adn goats brouse don't they not sure how to factor that in, but goats like cows put their heads down to the ground to chew grass that is a common action.

    in pc we need to do waht we need to do to be sustainable and eco' friendly, so yes get whatever food source you can from wher ever, especially for the chooks, could be a lot of other in front of you as well. attended and intro' to pc course at a tafe and she said best to create all you need on site as much as you can, that is tricky to do, she did say as you do nopt know the origin of what you bring in, a friend bought fodder in for his beasts and ended up with kahki weed, nasty weed, not that rats tail grass around as well.

    when we buy in rural again soon hopefully we may consider a milking goat but then that would depend on quality of soil in a noted poor quality soil area (good soil areas lots dearer to buy), and only be around 1.5 acres so would need to grow good fodder for the goat, and we buy all mulch. so chooks vege's fruit that will likely be it. might do gteh how many gardens do i, need to be as sustainable as then better info for otehrs in similar situ', only going to grow citrus mainly as tghey ahve less predators so to speak and need less water.

    len
     
  5. Fernando Pessoa

    Fernando Pessoa Junior Member

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    gREETS aLL,
    Interesting thread,Permaculture is an over hyped cult sad but true.
    As a design science it is unsurpassed,using design given free access to all the necessary inputs and then having a dream run of Halcyon days,in a perfectly designed system I have no doubt that you could create abundance on a few small acres with good management.Nutrition is the important factor, what quality of nutrition could you provide?
    As far as the food forest thing goes,big yields not much work, sustainable, stable systems it's hype.
    I have seen a few(more than 1 dozen,(5 countries)3 climate zones),some make a fair attempt and input to yield ratio is probably quiet good.
    I think however if you have a good solid mixed orchard run on sustainable lines you will exceed the yield by 10 fold.
    If someone has a good example of a working you beaut food forest in Australia I would love to be pointed at it because I have not seen any that approach the yields your friend is talking about.
    Best wishes fernando
     
  6. macey

    macey Junior Member

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    I think the question regarding food forests needs to be rethought in the above post......
    Surely a food forest should in fact be a solid mixed orchard run on sustainable lines?
    But whereas in a traditional mixed orchard you may maximise yield in the trees planted through careful plant selection, feeding, mulching and possibly even intermittent irrigation if conditions dictated, if a the seven layers of a FF are stacked and planted appropriately then not only would yields be near to optimised in the fruit trees but yields would also be generated from each of the other layers either directly or indirectly.....
    Once a system is established would the necessity for feeding not be to the greater part be achieved through a combination of leaf and fruit fall, appropriate use of dynamic accumulators, animal outputs and attraction of missing minor nutrients through attracting wildlife from elsewhere?
    Water supplementation can be reduced through increasing biomass over time, self mulching and cut and drop mulch plants in the system, ground covers etc (all of which may also provide useful food and medicinal outputs for human and animal use)
    Careful use of niches in time and space will ensure non-competitive production of yield which will not reduce the output of the over-story or under-story and obviously this stacking takes place in each of the other 5 layers.
    I think we'd all agree that a well planned and executed guild planting will have a greater net yield than a single planting of trees with fewer external inputs required.
    Obviously I have not even mentioned pest control or protection of yield through diversity or any number of other benefits of a well planned guild planting and that is all we are talking about in a FF a carefully thought out guild planting based on a forest ecology which at best should make use of each niche available to increase total yield?
     
  7. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    sounds good to me, macey.
     
  8. permasculptor

    permasculptor Junior Member

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    It would be interesting to know how many acres it takes with conventional methods as a baseline.
     
  9. ebunny

    ebunny Junior Member

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    As a side point of trivia that you may or may not have heard, apparently the reason for the classic Australian 1/4 acre block was to provide enough land for each Aussie family to grow their own food. So that was the original thinking of regional planners in the 50's. We've kind of lost the plot in recent decades, especially with subdivisions and Mcmansions. Sadly.
     
  10. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    That's interesting ebunny.

    Of course it wasn't to grow their own food exactly, but to grow SOME of their own food. A point that seems to be being lost in this and similar threads. Like FP said above, it's about nutrition and when I see people talking about growing their own food but not talking details it always makes me uneasy. There's nothing wrong with not growing all of one's own food of course, it's just that most of these discussions don't talk about nutrition for a family over decades and how to sustain that.

    On the other hand, I'm not sure about FP's criticism of food forests. It seems like we haven't had nearly enough time to learn how to do this. Aren't forest systems decades old? So we've had maybe one full cycle so far, certainly not enough to sort out the kinks.


    PP, thanks for clarifying earlier, it's very interesting to see what mix of things you are growing. Are any of the families eating meat? Where is that coming from?
     
  11. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    Pebble I perhaps need to clarify further as I am sure our customers do buy other vegetables and fruits apart from the ones we supply. I am sorry if I gave the impression that I was supplying all the needs of twenty families from a half acre but meant to give an indication on volumes available.
    We can not supply meat or pulses even if we wanted to from our fourteen acres but we could supply enough for a family of six.
     
  12. Spidermonkey

    Spidermonkey Junior Member

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    Maybe a well stocked dam or an Aquaponic system could help too by supplying a limited number of fish per month. The good thing about Aquaponics is that the plants don't need to compete for nutrient so you can plant more into a limited space. Its also good for dry areas as it is a closed system so the water gets re used and you only lose water to evaporation and whatever the plants take up. The drawbacks are that pests can be more of a problem because you have to be careful what you treat them with. Also there is the initial outlay to set it up.
     
  13. nchattaway

    nchattaway Junior Member

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    Hi All,

    We bought 50 acres in the Adelaide Hills in March 2010. My wife and I have four children, with our fifth and final child due near the end of the year. We chose 50 acres rather than a smaller block because we understand that likeminded community is so vital to long term success. So, we wanted to have enough land for our extended family to join us in the future when things get tougher than they are now.

    I figured that rainfall and northerly aspect were both more important that soil quality, since you can improve soil but it's impossible to change aspect and nearly impossible to reliably influence rainfall. We limited ourselves to SA because that's where our extended family (aka potential likeminded community members) are. We bought the 50 acres in the highest rainfall area we could afford (avg 800mm) which isn't much by Eastern standards but isn't half bad for SA. We also placed a high value on an existing dam or two, since State govt water management boards are really making life hard for rural property owners to construct new surface water storage in any form. Apparently the rain that falls on your property is decreasingly yours, and increasingly claimed by the govt to supply the urban centre of choice.

    I was expecting that 50 acres would be enough for 5 families of say 5 - 6 people per family. We don't expect to be completely self sufficient, but we do expect to be able to produce all of our water, all of our shelter, all of our firewood, most of our veggies and fruit, most of our grain and a good chunk of our meat from this property. Any surplus from the things we can produce, the plan would be to exchange/barter etc with other nearby communities for the things they have (hopefully surpluses of different things!)

    We're using the "Linda Woodrow" Chookdome Mandala system for zone 1, plus a zone 2 fruit and nut orchard. We plan to establish alleycropping on our lower paddocks, with Dorper sheep being our primary meat source grazing between cereal crops and tree shelter belts. If anyone knows of a better general purpose orchard interplant and alleycropping tree than Tagasaste for cool temperate permaculture application, please tell me before I start raising thousands of Tagasaste tubestock this spring!

    So, my answer is, in the Adelaide Hills, you should be able to feed a family of 6 from 10 acres.

    David Holmgren has gone on record as saying that Graham and Anne Marie Brookman's "Food Forest" in Gawler SA is probably the best working permaculture Food Forest in Australia at the moment. They have about 34 acres from memory, from which they feed themselves and 4-6 WWOOFERs year round, plus supply a stall at the Adelaide Showgrounds Farmer's Market for cash income.
     
  14. adrians

    adrians Junior Member

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    nchattaway, please share photos and stories when you can.. looking forward to it.
     
  15. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    so many variables hey? yes aspect very important but then not many know waht you mean when you say aspect they think it is ths way the house faces on the block, and as aspect hunters affect land sales real estate don't want to know about, we always buy the right aspect usually northern, but this time around beggars can't be choosers we will have to take what we can afford and do our best with it. hard thing to cop when you have had the opportunity to look for aspect above all. then the enxt thing those who buy aspect do they then research the type of home design needed to get that wanted winter sun into warm the house up? that is the next thing hey many locked into that littel log cabin dream with smoke spyraling out of chimney, not eco' friendly at all and not sustainable. so on aspect alone as much as 75% of all houses built could be on the wrong aspects.

    not only aspect for aspects sake teh further south maybe the higher up that aspect one needs to be? take a compass when looking at land to buy.

    len
     
  16. Grasshopper

    Grasshopper Senior Member

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  17. nchattaway

    nchattaway Junior Member

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    Hi Len,

    If you can find land that slopes gently towards the equator, it seems you'll have the potential for a textbook permaculture demonstration site, but more importantly for removing some of the barriers to growing plenty of produce.
    But, you can do something to improve any land and it does have to be affordable. What's the point in borrowing a huge sum to buy a perfect north facing property if you then need to have all available people working fulltime off the property to meet the mortgage payments? Much better to reduce the size or "desirability" of the setting so that you can service the debt and still have some time and energy to improve it.

    What works for us permies at the moment, in my opinion, is the fact that a lot of cashed up would-be "treechangers" are after the idyllic looking property. They've spent their entire lives focused on appearance, facade and the image they portray to other people and these habits are hard to shake so they make their rural property purchase from this perspective. A quaint old cottage (or stately farm manor), some detached stabling, a roundyard and dressage arena, a picturesque dam, maybe a little B&B cottage and lots of perfectly mowed green pasture seems to be what they're looking for. These properties sell for big bucks regardless of aspect or suitability to permaculture applications.
    So, the more basic "diamonds in the rough" can be selected on different criteria.

    If I was 10 years younger and we hadn't started having children yet, I would definitely have gone with a property with no existing dwelling. I would build a big zincalume shed with concrete slab foundation on an east-west axis halfway down a north facing slope and surround the east, south and western walls with rendered strawbales, and build much of the northern wall with glass. Thick insulation to the roof and line the inside with concrete besser blocks or bricks. I'd rough it with no grid connected electricity or mains water. I'd spend the least amount of time and money possible on the house initially, then spend all my time and money establishing infrastructure for water and food production. The best time to plant trees is ten years ago. Then, only when these were sorted out and a regular food supply was being successfully grown, I'd think about making the house nicer.

    Nathan
     
  18. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    Just read this not long ago, but slightly different.

    "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now".

    I like your vision.
     
  19. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    Grasshopper, thanks for the video link! love that! :)
     

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