Self Sufficiency

Discussion in 'General chat' started by Zae, Mar 24, 2010.

  1. Zae

    Zae Junior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2010
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Does anyone know the approximate land size required for three (3) adults to be self sufficient in fruit and vegetables (we are not vegetarian, but will still want to grow some if not most of our staples)? Is it even possible in this climate (long hot summers and cold to freezing, damp winters)? How would I go about doing this permaculturally?
     
  2. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

    Joined:
    May 14, 2004
    Messages:
    3,464
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    g'day zae,

    how long is a piece of string did you say? chuckle. this topic been covered before there is no black and white answer, lots and lots of variables, i could suggest if you want to graze some beef for teh table you might be looking at around 50 to 70 acres but it would need to be in reasonable to good rainfall area and teh soils would need to be of some quality. for me the term self and sufficient are somewhat of a misnomer, self supplementry yes because at the end of the day that is about all that would be achieved a level of self supplementing.

    if you haven't already done so learn what to look for in waht is termed "good land" that is land with good water under it, not water for the taking but good fresh water that will help you block of dirt thrive. oh! common misconception large blocks 50 70 100 acres lots of work!! not so we had 70 acres and friend 1.3 acres he worked lots harder than we ever did, once fences are in and in good condition there is realy not that much to do so don't measure the work needed on a small patch in the 'burb's against a decent larger block in rural. atually it was quiet nice to be able to walk around your block and see no one else or their property for much of the time. like they say anything up to 10 acres too little to do that much with and too much to keep as gardens and lawns.

    look more to being sustainable to some degree now sustainabilty to some degree is achievable, again not on smaller blocks so easy.

    len
     
  3. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2005
    Messages:
    2,922
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    0
    G'day Zae

    Welcome to the PRI Forum.

    In response to your questions, the answers that you will no doubt come up with will all be dependant upon how it is that the three of you wish to live a 'self-sufficient' life.

    One example, when thinking about land size: I suggest that three adults could quite easily live a life that is working towards 'self-sufficiency' on 100 sq mts. How, I hear you ask? Simple, build an Earthship, live in it, and barter your combined skills and abilities with other people (local to your bioregion) for all of those things that your 100 sq mts can not sustainably provide you with.

    If everyone (7-billion people, and counting) in the world aspired to live on acres of land, how long do you think it would be before we ran out of said land?

    Cheerio, Marko.
     
  4. Zae

    Zae Junior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2010
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I guess I need to explain further. Mum and dad are going to settle/retire in the Cowra/Young/Cootamundra area of NSW OZ and I live with them. What we are aiming for is to grow our own fruit and vegetables and staples. The only animals I might be able to keep are some chooks, ducks, my therapy dog, and my pet cow(she's reaching retirement age herself and won't be milked). Does this help? Can it be done on a permaculture basis and if so how ?
     
  5. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Messages:
    2,215
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    36
    I'm thinking more and more lately that this sort of thing really can't be done alone (by most people). I'm starting to see how much value there is in this whole thing being about community. I originally thought that me and the family doing our own thing would be enough, but now I'm starting to see that the permaculture that I am looking for is much more about people, families, neighbours doing it together. My problem lies in that I would rather be a silent leader, or a good worker supporting a solid leader or group of leaders. So this is providing some personal challenges for me at the moment. I guess I would rather transplant myself into an existing community, but in reality I suspect very few, if any, currently exist. Which leaves me with the task of building a community and more and more I am starting to think it may be up to me to lay the first cornerstone to Mandala Town.

    That's the Universe for ya I guess.
     
  6. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    Messages:
    2,456
    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Farm manager/ educator
    Location:
    Hunter Valley New South Wales
    Home Page:
    Climate:
    warm temperate - some frost - changing every year
    To true Grahame - the thing that attracts me to the transition model is that one of your first tasks as a part of a steering group is to plan for your own demise. By helping to build a resilient community you have a chance to share the roles in the community. Communities exist everywhere they just don't know it yet. Another thing I like about transition town model is a lack of activism and a focus on doing or results. and most of all it is a party where things do get done.
     
  7. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2005
    Messages:
    2,922
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    0
    G'day Zae

    Thanks for filling us in a little bit more on your situation, and sorry if my initial response was a little abrupt/cryptic - it's been a long week!

    That is a lovely area that you have chosen. I was there quite recently looking at landforms, and such. Anyway, back to your original question. The permaculture 'do-ability' one, in particular:

    The ethics and principles of permaculture can be applied to any situation, in any place, at any time. Generally speaking, permaculture can act as a guide for the undertaking of any project, say from rearranging your kitchen work space in order to make it more more efficient/user-friendly, to re-designing an entire town, city, region, continent... So, the size of your your proposed patch of land is not the issue, it what you want/need to do with it that is of chief concern.

    A house cow, chooks, ducks, your dog, Mum and Dad, and last but not least, yourself, could all easily be accommodated on 1-acre (4010 sq mts). This amount of room would give each member of your happy menagerie enough room to co-exist quite happily, I should think. Of course, this land size suggestion is also taking into consideration things such space required for a kitchen garden, and maybe a little orchard and larger vege beds, chook run/house/tractor, dog run/kennel, duckpond, compost heaps, worm farm, a place to store cow poo and feed, etc, etc. Oh, and of course, a dwelling for yourself, Mum and Dad.

    Double the above, if you want to grow a bit of pasture for the cow.

    I reckon you would get huge satisfaction (and a greater understanding of how everything can 'fit' on your block, no matter what size you end up getting) from reading Alexander et al: A Pattern Language. Further, may I also recommend a brilliant publication written by Ian Lillington and titled: The Holistic Life - Sustainability Through Permaculture. Both of these books should be available at your regional library. The latter is a very accessible read for those that are new to permaculture, and I think the 'scale' in which it is written, with reference to 'homely aspects', will fit very well with your initial plans.

    I hope the above has been of some assistance. Please return often and keep us up to date with your progress.

    Cheerio, to you all, Marko.
     
  8. geoff

    geoff Junior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2009
    Messages:
    83
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Hi Zae,

    I'm about an hour north of Cowra, so similar conditions. We've got a fraction under an acre and have about 50 fruit trees, chooks, ducks, a big vege garden, big herb garden. About 1/6 of the block is too rocky to grow much of anything, it's slowly being turned over to trees. About the same again is a grassed area for the kids. Not sure how much in the way of staples like grain we'd be able to grow here, but I guess if we planted every spare space there'd be room for a fair bit.

    We did grow up a couple of lambs on the grassy bits a couple of years ago, but we had to supplement their feed with external inputs, so as Marko says, if you want a cow you'll need more, or you'll need to put in less fruit trees! You might need two or three acres, depending on how much supplemental feeding you want to do, as rainfall is too sporadic to ensure we get pasture growth throughout the summer. You could reduce the need for supplemental feed by planting fodder trees, but these wont become useful for a few years so you'll have land out of action harbouring the growing trees, and a greater need for feed during that time. If you get more land initially then you could later take some of this out of cow-feed as your fodder trees mature and turn it over to something else like grain or coppice for firewood depending on how much effort you were interested in putting in.

    It takes me about a day to whipper-snip and mow the whole block, maybe two if I didn't have the help of a ride-on mower for the major parts, to give you an idea of the maintenance that would be required. Again, this is due to the fact that close to 3/4 of our place is fruit trees, so we can't let large grazing animals do the job for us, and about 1/3 is inaccessible to a mower of any kind so needs to be done with the brushcutter.
     
  9. springtide

    springtide Junior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Messages:
    359
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I'd have to agree with all of the above, especially Grahame's thoughts on leadership - i would rather be pointing the spot light than under it.
    Veggie patch estimates are often around 100m2 for 3 depending on soil types and water availibility - then theres 1-200m2 for an orchard and then things get a bit more complicated - do you want to plant 100m2 of corn to dry and feed chickens, do you want to plant out 2+ acres for firewood and some flowering shrubs for animals, etc.
    Another reason to get into the community thing is for friendship and morale, it sounds like a big move and it's easy to get a bit well.. upset - if things don't go so well in that first year + strange new town + where to get essentials and advice + etc.
    I think the permaculture ideas and principles can be used anywhere but standard back yards to a few acres is where it becomes a bit more important - where everything has to work well side by side eg. the layers of windbreaks, then the orchard, which protects the veggie patch, which is down hill of the house for watering. It all just flows together.
    Good luck and remember what the SBS crew say "The World is an Amazing Place".
     
  10. Zae

    Zae Junior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2010
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I guess the idea of of self sufficiency is a bit over the top. I think if I could just grow some veg I'd be doing well. If we aim for self sufficiency we will not be following one of the basic principles of permaculture of working as a community. Speaking of which, would anybody of a permaculture designer (with reasonable pay rates) in the Cowra area? I'd like to redo the place we are living now (it is in town).
     
  11. abdullah

    abdullah Junior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2009
    Messages:
    132
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    you can do it, eventually, i was listening to a few years old interview with bill mollison yesterday and he mentioned that (i will paraphrase now) sometime in the past he worked out that a person can live well off around a dozen trees, 3 or 4 olives does you for shampoo/oils, cooking oil and table fruit, 4 chestnuts for all your bread, and the rest he didnt mention but one could assume fruit and nuts, and that is just the tree bit, if you stack the levels food forest style imagine the possibility.

    having said that for 1 person, simply triple it for 3, note that chestnut trees wont produce much for maybe 10-20 years, but im sure they can handle your freezing winter, dunno about olives though, worth a try since you can buy tubed olives for $10-20, could be a good investment, could die, if it dies then you learn it doesnt suit, providing all other factors were accounted for like plant heaven ('moist well drained soil') etc.

    oh, and i'd eat the cow, as the others said its not benefiting you, and its too demanding.
     
  12. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

    Joined:
    May 14, 2004
    Messages:
    3,464
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    g'day zae,

    yes start small and as you learn you will grow more with success, that success being growing vegetable without chemical insect intevention or addition of fertilisers, which all make the process less sustainable. so target one develop you knowledge and agrden to supplement as much food as you can grow and eat, and do it as sustainably as you can, we will always need to be buying mulch adn mushroom compost and seedlings, but that is recycling all rottables into the garden and the green type mulches breaking down adds the nutrients. all our composting and vermiculture occurs in eh garden right where the nutrients are needed. cut out teh middleman type functions of gardening.

    along the sustainable path utilise all your second hand water to garden or other ie.,. flushing solids only down the toilet i collect my urine daily which gets added to ketichen rinse or wash water for the vege patch, kitchen water contains lot so food particles. good water saved by using used water to flush toilets can the be used on the garden as needed, collect rainwater think big nothing under 15k/lt size tank if you can.

    check our site for ideas.

    len
     
  13. Noz

    Noz Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2008
    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
  14. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2009
    Messages:
    5,925
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Or Isabel Shippard's book on self sufficiency.
     
  15. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    Messages:
    2,456
    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Farm manager/ educator
    Location:
    Hunter Valley New South Wales
    Home Page:
    Climate:
    warm temperate - some frost - changing every year
    Or Kieth and Irene Smiths book on self sufficiency.
     
  16. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2005
    Messages:
    2,922
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    0
    A sufficient life can be achieved by the individual, or even by a family unit, but for a level of sufficiency that really satisfies, try living in an intentional community.

    Oh, and John Seymour's (1976) The Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency remains one of my favourites (p. 8):

    The true homesteader will seek to husband his land, not exploit it. He will wish to improve and maintain the "heart" of his land, it's fertility. He will learn by observing nature that growing one crop only, or keeping one species of animal only, on the same piece of land is not in the natural order of things...

    ...Above all, he will realize that if he interferes with the chain of life (of which he is part) he does so at his peril, for he cannot avoid disturbing a natural balance.


    Hooroo, Marcus.
     
  17. qis

    qis Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2008
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Hi, I'm one of a few planning a 100% self-sufficient, sustainable community and we're looking for input. I for one would be very happy to hear from any more people who are interested, and to talk to people who are already doing it.
     

Share This Page

-->