Going off the grid is a dream for many people. Being self-sufficient is satisfying and makes you more secure and resilient.
But how much land do you need for that? The ability to determine the size of land you need can make the difference.
Some people enjoy living off the grid because they have the right resources, including land. Before making the decision, you should consider it and where to buy it.
Knowing how much land you need for self-sufficiency is a lengthy process. But with the factors described in this article, it should never be a problem for you. Continue reading to find out more!
- What Does Self-Sufficient Mean?
- How Much Land Do You Need To Be Self-Sufficient?
- 6 Importance Factors That Influence How Much Land You Need
- Personally Thinking
- Some Thoughts
What Does Self-Sufficient Mean?
Self-sufficiency means being able to satisfy one’s basic needs without seeking outside aid, especially regarding food production. You can also become emotionally and intellectually independent.
To become independent or self-sufficient, you can grow your own food and access all necessary resources.
If you are self-sufficient, you possess a strong locus of control. You determine your own course and make decisions without any influence from an outsider.
Depending on others for help can be easy, but it is not the best habit to adopt. However, becoming independent can also be scary.
Apart from producing your own food and pulling your resources, you also increase your self-esteem.
Self-sufficiency saves you money. It also protects you from the vicissitudes of life. It also helps you protect the environment.
As an independent individual, you can live comfortably without anyone else.
How Much Land Do You Need To Be Self-Sufficient?
Being 100% self-sufficient can be a fantasy that many people are willing to achieve. It may look easy at a glance, but there is much more to consider.
We are not saying it is impossible to live off the grid without depending on anyone. It is that you need to know what factors to consider.
The main factor, in this case, is the land. You need a plot where you will establish yourself. But how much land do you need? A simple homestead can be constructed on a ¼ acre of land.
But if you plan to fetch firewood on the same piece of land, you will require at least 5 acres of land per person.
If you have a family of 4, you will need about 20 acres of land. It can be less or more, depending on the age of the individuals.
Also, if you want to keep livestock, you will need much more land. That can be about 30 acres.
The figures mentioned here assume that the area receives enough rainfall and is productive. Otherwise, you may need much larger land parcels or heavy investment to be self-sufficient.
So, does it mean you cannot be self-independent on a smaller piece of land? No. It is possible to be self-sufficient on a small parcel, but you will need higher initial capital.
The general rule is that the smaller the piece, the more starting capital you need. You need to highly develop the land to sustain yourself and your family.
6 Importance Factors That Influence How Much Land You Need
The size of land needed for self-sufficiency depends on many factors. You have to consider everything before making the bold step. Don’t do it because your friends did, but first consider the following:
- The number of people in the family.
- Land for growing.
- Land for livestock.
- Your diet and lifestyle.
- The available workforce to make land work.
- Other purposes with your land.
These are the key factors to consider when determining the land size needed for self-sufficiency. With them, you will get more accurate approximations. Let us discuss them in detail.
The Number Of People In The Family
Your household determines the size of land you need to live independently. As mentioned, you need at least five acres per person. So, you can always do your math.
You may even need less if you don’t plan on fetching firewood on the same piece of land.
Some off-gridders adopt other ways of getting their energy for cooking, such as biogas.
If you have animal waste, you can eliminate the need for firewood by installing a biogas digester system. However, that will raise the starting capital.
If you want to be self-sufficient in a small piece of land, you should be ready to invest heavily in it. Otherwise, go for the convention of five acres per person.
Land For Growing
Being self-sufficient implies you can grow your own food. So, you should have at least a garden where you will plant vegetables, herbs, fruit trees, and many others. You also need forested land for fetching firewood.
Once you know the number of people in your family, you can calculate the quantities of vegetables and crops you need to produce every season.
Using that fact, you can calculate the land size needed for self-sustainability.
Land For Growing Vegetables and Other Crops
The size of the land you need for growing vegetables and other crops depends on the individual crops you need. Every crop variety requires different spacing in the field.
Also, the method of cultivation determines the land required. Check more information in the table below:
|Vegetables and Crops||Number of Plants per ft. of row||Number of plants for a family of 4|
|Asparagus||1 plant/ft. of row||20 – 25 Plants|
|Bush beans||2 plants/ft. of row||40 – 45 Plants|
|Beets||Thin to 3 plants/ft. of row||85 – 90 Plants|
|Cucumber||1 plant/2 ft. of row||2 Vines, 4 Bushes|
|Carrots||Thin to 12 plants/ft. of row||135 – 144 Plants|
|Corn||1 plant/ft. of row||35 – 40 Plants|
|Eggplant||1 plant/2 ft. of row||5 – 7 Plants|
|Kale||10/10 ft. of row||35 – 40 Plants|
|Leaf lettuce||Thin to 3 plants/ft. of row||70 – 78 Plants|
|Melon||1 Plant/6 ft. of Row||2 – 4 Plants|
|Onion||4 Sets/ft. of Row||80 – 100 Sets|
|Peas||6 Plants/ft. of Row||65 – 70 Plants|
|Pepper||1 Plant/ft. of Row||8 – 10 Plants|
|Potato||1 Plant/ft. of Row||35 – 40 Plants|
|Radish||Thin to 12 Plants/ft. of Row||55 – 60 Plants|
|Spinach||Thin to 6 Plants/ft. of Row||160 – 180 Plants|
|Squash||1 Plant/6 ft. of Row||3 Plants|
|Tomato||1 Plant/2 ft. of Row||4-6 Plants|
|Zucchini||1 Plant/3 ft. of Row||4 Plants|
You don’t require as much land for greenhouse vegetables as you need for open field cultivation.
You can get a considerable quantity in a small area if you opt for a greenhouse system. But again, you should be prepared for high initial capital.
Land For Growing Orchard Cultivation and Fruit
Fruit trees cover a large piece of land. The more you need, the larger the parcel you will require.
Whether you plant them for family use or to sell, you will have to consider the space requirements for every fruit tree in your garden.
We also know that some fruit trees require larger parcels of land while others can even use the fence as their growing space.
Vine fruits can be planted along the fence line to save on space. But you cannot do the same with mango trees and other fruits. So, determine the fruit varieties you wish to include in your orchard.
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A Forested Area
You need a forested area for different reasons. Your life off-grid can never be complete if you can’t emulate the natural environment.
In many cases, the forested area takes the most land. Trees in the forest ensure the air around your home is pure.
Trees also act as windbreaks and absorb noise. You also can use dry twigs as firewood. The forested area can be as big as you want, but it should be enough to meet your family’s firewood needs.
Provided you have a place to build a house, grow vegetables, and a playground, the rest can be under the forest.
Land For Livestock
Keeping livestock in the same piece of land you live in will significantly increase the size required for self-sufficiency.
You need meat, milk, and eggs for a balanced diet. Being self-sufficient implies you can get all these off-grid. So, how much land do you need for livestock?
Chickens require the least amount of space. Many off-gridders have been able to keep chickens in the backyard without additional land requirements.
You can comfortably raise 10 chickens in the same plot of land without the need to increase the size.
However, if you increase the size of your flock, you will need an extra piece of land to sustain them. They will need an elaborate coop and run.
Also, the size depends on the method of chicken rearing adopted. Caging takes a much smaller space compared to free-range. Each bird requires about 250-300 square feet of space.
Goats are the easiest to keep after birds, especially if you have a forested area. They are mainly browsers that can survive on the leaves and twigs.
So, the number you keep may determine the size of the natural forest you need on your parcel of land.
You don’t need much land for your goats to meet your family’s needs. However, if you venture into large-scale farming, you will need at least an acre for 50 goats.
You can scale that down to about 10 or 20 goats, depending on the size of your family. Again, the size of land required for keeping goats depends on the method of rearing you intend to use.
Other animals you can keep include cattle, pigs, and sheep. Cattle will need much more land for growing fodder or grazing. Adopting a zero-grazing method will help you save space.
In the case of cattle rearing, you can opt for zero-grazing if you have the starting capital.
You can also reduce the forested area for pasture and use cattle droppings for biogas production instead of firewood.
The size of land needed depends on the animal breed you intend to include on your property.
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Your Diet And Lifestyle
People have different lifestyles. That influences the vegetables they grow and the livestock they keep. So, examine your diet requirements and what will make you self-sufficient.
For example, vegetarians do not need to keep livestock unless they intend to sell the products. Instead, they concentrate more on vegetables and fruit trees.
The Available Workforce To Make Land Work
You may not provide all the labor needed to produce your food. If you have a large parcel of land, you may be underutilizing the resources.
Before going for a large piece of land, consider the available workforce to help you on the farms.
Growing vegetables and crops, picking fruits, and rearing livestock require manpower. Don’t forget that.
Other Purposes With Your Land
There are many other uses of land that can potentially increase the size you require for self-sufficiency.
You can think of buying land and renting it out to other people who want to use it for growing crops and rearing livestock.
Alternatively, you may need land for natural energy production, such as solar or wind systems. You may also consider sharing the energy produced with others who need it.
In other words, land can be put to many uses, and all that determines the additional space required.
Consider everything just before you buy any piece of land. Know the most approximated land size that will let you achieve self-sustainability.
When you read other articles, you will find that they suggest the following factors:
- The climate where you live.
- The quality of the soil.
- How much sunlight the property gets.
- Amount of rainfall.
You will indeed consider these factors when looking for a piece of land to buy, but they don’t directly influence the size required.
In my opinion, they come much sooner before you have determined how much land you need for self-sufficiency.
The climate, soil quality, and sunlight determine where you buy the land. To get more insight into this topic, refer to this article on the 11 Best Places To Buy Land For Off-Grid Living.
Can you be self-sufficient on one acre?
Yes. You can be self-sufficient on one acre, but it requires high capital to develop it. Also, you will need work, education, dedication, and time to produce enough food you need from that small piece of land.
The size of your family, climate, and soil quality can also determine if you can sustain yourself on one acre or not.
How much land do you need to feed a family of four?
In general, one person needs about five acres of land to be self-sufficient. Theoretically, a family of four should live on 20 acres of land.
But due to economies of scale, a family of four can survive on just 13 acres of land.
Are five acres enough for a homestead?
Yes. Five acres of land is just enough for a homestead if you have a small family. However, you still need to work harder and invest more to be self-sufficient on that small piece of land.
Five acres is never enough for a family of two or more. But with enough initial capital, you can sustain yourself on it.
You may not get your calculations right. Your plan or information provided here should guide you to determine the average land size you need.
It should not be too small or too big for your family. You should be comfortable living in it and providing for everything you need.
Thank you for your time at the Em-Offgrid. Please share this article to also help others who want to go off-grid.