SELF-SUSTAINING ON 1 ACRE: IS IT POSSIBLE?

 

There are a lot of articles out there about how to be self-sustaining on a 1-acre property. Now, while most urban dwellers don’t have one full acre, many people who live on the outskirts of town or in more rural areas do. So is this possible? How much can you really do with one acre?

I have to say, some of the articles I’ve read are a bit misleading. They make self-sufficient homesteading on an acre sound simple and even glamorous. Because I have an urban farm on a 1-acre property, I can speak to this with some degree of authority — so if you have an oversized lot or small acreage and want to be as sustainable as possible, here are some ideas and suggestions about what you can expect.

Check zoning regulations. Most areas have regulations about what kinds of structures and what types of animals you can have on a 1-acre lot. Chances are great that you cannot have a cow, goats, pigs, and chickens on a small property, but even if regulations allowed it, you’ll want to be aware of how having these animals might impact your neighbors. Also, know what your area’s noise ordinances are for animals that moo, oink, or cock-a-doodle-doo.

Set your priorities. One acre is approximately 215 x 215 feet. Presumably, a quarter of that is reserved for your house and yard (unless you are living fairly austerely). So you’ll have ¾ of an acre left, and that can get eaten up pretty quickly. And I mean that literally – if you have 8 goats on ¾ of an acre, that space will get torn down and overrun in no time at all. Failure to set your priorities will result in land that is overgrazed, overworked, and lifeless. So figure out what’s most important to you and go from there. A couple of milking goats? A small flock of chickens? A large vegetable garden? All doable on one acre.

Be realistic. Total self-sufficiency means that you would grow your own hay to feed the goats, have enough chickens for meat and eggs, and have a fairly large garden for fruit trees, berry bushes, vegetables, and herbs. One acre isn’t likely large enough to accomplish all of those things and be completely self-sustaining, but it is certainly large enough to be sustainable and practical. And anyone can feel good about that.

 

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