Small scale farming and micro farms can
still produce enough food for self-sufficient living. You can be
totally self-sufficient on an acre, or less. In fact, urban
homesteading is becoming increasingly popular.
Micro Farms and
Sustainable Farming - A Definition and the
Who is this Page For?
This is the place where you are going
to gain information about creating a sustainable farm on a
piece of ground; in other words small
scale farming, micro-farming
or running mini-farms
in order to be self-sufficient.
How small? I hear some of you ask?
Well, ideally, you would have 5 acres, but I will show you through the
fact sheets, that I will update from time to time, that you can be
totally self-sufficient on 1 acre of land.
So if you have an acre or more, then
you will learn that small
scale farming on micro-farms is just as
viable as those farms that have more land. It isn't the size of the
land that counts, it is how
How many times have you passed by
that are packed with vegetables
and fruit on quite small pieces of land, many not more than 200 sq?
Which further illustrates the fact that if you want to get involved in
sustainable farming, you could start in your own back yard! And many
people have done just that. There is a great movement afoot in urban
homesteading. See our
section on Free
Farm Videos to see how people are using their front
and back gardens to be self-sufficient.
For allotment growers and for those
thinking of Allotment
read allotment diaries, see some photographs, and get good advice about
growing vegetables, fruits and herbs with a forum for chatting on the
plot to sort out any issues.
What is Sustainable Farming?
One is often asked the question, What
is sustainable farming and how does it differ from commercial farming?
Sustainable farming means that whatever
is farmed, raised and grown on the farm is consumed by the farm
dwellers themselves. They are living off the land and providing all the
food they need for their own consumption. In other words, they are
pretty much self-sufficient
when it comes to what they eat. Therefore, you will often hear of
sustainable farming and self-sufficiency farming being used
inter-changeably as they are one and the same. The land size that they
own, is usually, but not always fairly small, by comparison to the more
commercially orientated farmers. Thus you will often hear these small
farms referred to as mini farms or micro
Commercial farming, on the other hand,
is where crops are grown and cattle is raised for others in order to
make some money. Not that farming is a lucrative, get-rich business, it
is not, but by being a commercial farmer one farms with the intention
of having a ready-known market, the knowledge of what current prices
are for their crops and animals and what niche market will bear them a
profit, both now and in the future.
The main Principle of Sustainable Farming - Land Management
First and foremost, as
mentioned one does not need a huge piece of land to become
self-sufficient. So how small is small? Well, one can actually become
self-sufficient quite happily on one
acre of land.
One acre of land can be used for small scale farming on mini-farms
quite happily leading to self-sufficiency. However, because it is
possible to practice self-sufficiency on mini farms, land management
then becomes crucial. This then becomes the most important principle
for sustainable farming and creating your mini farm.
The clue, of course, is in the very
word itself sustainablemeaning to keep something going. If the land that you use to
farm is mismanaged, you will never be able to sustain any crops or
animals at an acceptable level of productivity. That includes both
large scale and small scale farming. Mismanagement will give you the
same result. What you will end up with will be both diseased and ill
plants and animals and your hopes of self-sufficiency will be
In owning a micro farm or small scale
farm, there has to be a balance between the animals and the plants
because ideally you want to create a food chain where each feed each
other. You need the manure from the farm
animals to enrich the soil so that the soil can
then produce good crops, and which in turn, will go back to feeding the
With small scale farming on mini-farms
for sustainability there needs to be crop rotation. One
crops on the same piece of land year after year. Crops gown like this
soon weaken to disease. However, the problem does not remain here, what
happens is that the disease organisms that attack that plant multiply
to such an extent that eventually the disease becomes uncontrollable.
So plan your small farm with care, and make sure that some portion of
the land is always kept fallow so that you can implement your crop
If you are small scale farming with
animals you can put them to good use by allowing them to manure your
crops in a controlled way. Animals need feeding so why not allow them
into your crops but have them within an enclosed area? That way they
are being fed, and at the same time fertilizing the land at the same
chickens works very well. Not only do they
fertilize the soil, but they also eat the insects that may be
destroying your crops.
Look at the land resources that
have for small scale farming and see how you can improve or utilize
them. Do you have enough water on the property? If not, should you
build a dam and if so, where would be the best place to put it?
Irrigation is important and you cannot rely on the weather these days.
Look too at where your prevailing winds are coming from and plant trees
here to create a protective barrier for your crops. Replanting
hedgerows is a must for those of you who are interested in
organic farming and preserving
Many overzealous farmers ripped out
kilometers of natural hedgerows in the 80s and 90s in England. After
such a thoughtless decision of the consequences, what they subsequently
discovered that hedgerows
have many benefits. Not only have they helped
stabilize the soil and prevent soil-erosion, they are also a benefit
to controlling insects and pests.
These hedges are a natural habitat for
many of England's birds, insects and mammals and which had created the
very eco-system that had silently been highly beneficial to farmers who
had had them. Many of the birds, for example, had fed on the very
insects that, after the hedgerow destruction, were spreading in large
numbers, as the birds were no longer there to keep them in control.
As a result many farmers have now
reverted to replanting the hedges. The inclusion of this example
illustrates that as custodians of our planet, as farmers, we should
take grave deliberation of any changes we make to the land and ask
ourselves whether what we have planed to do will be harmful in any way.
We should be encouraging the right types of animals and insects to your
garden. Details of this topic can be found in the back issue of our
April, 2009 e-zine.
Finally, there is the old adage, Waste
not, want not. In
sustainable farming and as mini farm owners
the key is not to waste.
Do not waste the natural resources that
you have. Do not waste the opportunity to re-cycle everything. Take
your vegetable scraps and either start a compost
bin with worms for vermicompost
or start an open compost heap. When you have pruned your trees and have
grass clippings after mowing the lawn, add these to your compost. When
you have animal manure, add that too, along with any animal residues
after slaughter or crop residues after harvests. Waste nothing! The
land can support you, even if you own a small scale farm, as long you
if you treat it well.
is a book that many of you have been waiting for - an in depth guide to
being self-sufficient on a 1/4 of an acre. This is a beginners guide
with step-by-step instructions on how to become self-sufficient with
many photographs showing you just how. There is advice on chickens,
seeds, growing vegetables, preserving food, recipes... the list goes
on. This is a must-have book for those who are serious about
turning their lawns into lunch!
SELF SUFFICIENCY RESOURCES:
For more information on being self
sufficient, visit our Self Reliance section.
Visit our Country
Corner Store for online shopping for books and
merchandise for small scale farming, farming equipment and seeds.
If you are looking for more information
on self-sufficiency and especially organic farming then go to Organic Gardening and
Homesteading. Learn about goat and chicken raising,
frugal living and general homestead living.
Here is a very interesting video on the
uncertainty of a regular oil supply, how farmers are being squeezed
from every side, and yet how we can rise above this by being
self-sufficient on a very small piece of land. See how 2 families have
made a success at self-sufficient farming.
you live in the USA? Are you small scale farming on mini-farms? Are you
looking for a free monthly newsletter on Sustainable Farming?
The Sustainable Times comes out once a month and services Dane,
although there are lots of articles that are of general interest. Get
your online copy at Sustainable
that Practice Self-Sufficiency:
This is a farm that produces their own food, built
homestead and maintains a frugal life style:
Self Sufficient Farm Living is about learning and enjoying American
Traditional Skills and Crafts. There is nothing like the feeling of
self sufficient living. Why pay the high prices of today's economy when
you can make or build it yourself. Learn and Enjoy American Traditional
Skills and Crafts.
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How to Set up a Closed Community Garden Not rated yet I currently work at a Homeless Shelter in Southern California and we have some unused land here. I would really like to start a project like this here …
composting and fertilizer Not rated yet I was wondering, if you are using compost or fertilizer on crops, why you couldn't continue planting in the same spot.
Wouldn't the compost keep crops …
nice one Not rated yet it is good to know that every single person is attached to agriculture. This is the need of today that everyone should make an effort to survive here. …