Can you be self sufficient on less than an acre of ground?

by Wallis Hardie
(South Africa)

My name is Wallis Hardie and I am a farmer in South Africa. I am badly looking for plans or people to speak to about self sustainable farming on a small piece of land. I heard a story about a guy who made a living on 1 acre of ground. Is this so? Where can I find out more about this?

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Dec 10, 2009
Yes, you can be self-sufficient on an acre or even less
by: Countryfarm Lifestyles

Wallis, being self-sufficient means a lot of different things to a lot of people. And there are degrees of self-sufficiency.

One can be self-sufficient vegetables and meat wise, but still rely on getting flour, rice, household detergents, etc. from your local supermarket and rely on your municipality for water and electricity and your local petrol station for petrol.

Others aim for total self-sufficiency where they grow and raise their own, make their own soap and beauty products, grind their own flour, live off the grid, collect and store rainwater and make alternative fuel from waste vegetable oil.

So your question is very broad. However, you can indeed be totally self-sufficient on an acre, even less. See our page on
Mini Farms.

There is a wonderful man in California, called Jules Dervaes who is an inspiration to anyone who aims for self-sufficiency. He and his children are virtually self-sufficient in an inner-suburban plot of 1/5th of an acre; that's 66-feet-by-132-feet!!!

He tore up his grass and started planting edible plants. Soon he was planting fruit trees alongside his vegetables. Then along came the chickens, ducks, rabbits, goats and bees. Nothing was wasted, and the manure from the animals and spent plants went back into the soil via the compost heap.

He then realized that a lot of what he was growing would take up less space if he grew it vertically. Which is what he did. By under-planting beneath his taller trellised plants he conserved space and was reaching an annual yield of over 6,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables on just 1/10th of an acre of land.

They produce over 350 different kinds of vegetables, fruit and herbs on this piece of land and sustain the animals which they use only for manure, eggs and milk. They do not eat the animals as the family is now vegetarian. However, there is nothing stopping you from using these animals for their meat if you wished to do so. The only issue would be municipal by-laws with regards to home-butchering.

On the electricity front he installed a 2 kW solar power system and produced about two-thirds of their needs. With the balance supplied by the city from a wind farm, all their electricity came from green power. They also home-brew their own bio-diesel fuel from waste vegetable oil.

So you see, it is not how much land you have, but how you conserve it, and what you do with it that counts. If you utilize it well, with good planning, and think outside the box, such as growing vegetables vertically, you can achieve your goal of self-sufficiency.

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