More and more people are turning away from grocery stores and transforming their backyards (and front yards) into gardens. Below is an inforgraphic which demonstrates the requirements needed to live off the land for one year (for a family of four).




Great graphic. I’m a little disappointed to have moved off my 2 acres. Quality of neighbours is definitely a factor so that you can depend on sharing resources and energy and ideas. One thing this graphic did not take into account is how much more land it might take to put back into this 2 acres as much as is being taken out. Some people say that humanure is the way to close that link. Of course, animal manure is crucially important. Others say that they have to import so much more material to build the soil, that farming can never be a truly sustainable practice. The nomads were/are onto something! What’s a farmer-settler to do? Keep up the conversation, folks! It’s heartening.


For litlemac, the gnats in your kitchen when you try to compost? Probably hatching off the food peelings. Try: Freezing your little caches of compostables, rather than keeping on the kitchen counter. To get rid of, the little Terro fruit fly traps work well. You also need to let your houseplants dry out, b/c the gnats get water from the soil of those, plus remove all liquids from the house during the night (no wet dishes in the sink, no glasses of water anywhere). Finally, every night pour a little vinegar into each drain in the house, b/c the fungus gnats live in the “traps” of the drain. Making the dirty water in there uninhabitable really helps keep them from living in your house.


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My husband and I moved to 3 1/2 acres in the country about four years ago. We’ve been working towards this slowly. It’s not anything you have to do all at once. We started with a few hens and a small garden. Since then we’ve added more hens, increased our garden size, added two goats and took classes on green technology. Next step is solar power!


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We recently moved to where we can grow anything at all. We have been trying to compost, but I keep getting knats in my kitchen and I can’t keep them out. What am I doing wrong?


This graphic makes me not even want to attempt growing my own food.

Cygnet Brown

You could probably get away with less than 2 acres were family if you used aquaponics, greenhouses and used solar power to run the system.

Angela G

How would you adjust it if you wanted to grow enough to feed your animals? How much do you allow for each? ie. pigs, chickens, rabbits, goats, etc. ?


Syd, the problem with cows is you get too much bang for your buck. What would a family of four do with 6-7 gallons of milk a day besides hope to be able to trade it? Additionally a lot of dairy stock won’t give milk year round so then you’ve got the problem of not having any milk part of the year. It’s much more logical for a small family to have a couple of miniature dairy goats that produce around a pound of milk each daily and can be bred, kidded, and milked to overlap each other’s production times.Plus the minis are small, easy to handle, easy to feed, personable, and stupid cute. :)


It is food for thought…what do you eat and could you grow it?? The Victory Gardens after the Great War would be our inspiration today. As a child on the farm in Gettysburg, Pa., we had a kitchen garden that was two acres. The rest of the land was farmed and used for grazing. I was a most difficult child and did not wish to eat meat, it confounded my parents, but that’s what kids are for. It took me a lifetime to realize that I do not have to eat meat, and have not eaten any since the early 1990’s. It is never too late to find what you like in life and work towards that goal. This plans offers you solutions that you can modify to suit. Very nice!



You are forgetting that in doing this, you are lightening the work load for you and your spouse. Growing your own food and being self reliant, having no utility bills, why do you need to work so hard? The labor cost is sweat equity in exchange for healthy non gmo food on the table for you and your family. It’s a trade off, work harder at home and less in the “office”. It’s not just a financial decision, it’s a lifestyle choice, and a healthy one at that. There’s also something to be said about having your family and teaching your children to feel their own food and have them spend less time in front of the tv,Internet, and video games, and more time in front of a compost pile, a hoe, and a milk bucket.

You can’t eat money. Our financial system could fail at any time (and to many already has) so why not spend your energy on self sufficient rather than money to buy the things you are capable of creating yourself.

Jarrod Chance

Jamie Jackson, it is not misleading. It gives estimates of what is needed for a family of four to do everything on their own. That is self sufficient, i.e. not needing outside resources. To the contrary, the graphic suggest that it would be more efficient to buy their corn and flour to reduce their land needs to 1.5 acres.


Corn fed animals are no good. Buy more land and provide them with grass instead. (assuming you have weather permitting conditions)

K. Reynolds

It’s a lovely idea, but misleading. There are many things to consider here. What length of growing season would you need? Would this be enough to provide food during winter? Yes, you could keep 13 hens in 65 square feet of space, but do you really want to keep your animals battery style, in a space of 8′×8′? Even worse, keeping 3 pigs in a space that is roughly 14′×15′. Yeah, you could do it, but why would you want to? A pretty graphic illustrating the idea doesn’t mean that it’s realistic.

Ray WInters

I agree with Jamie, there would be a lot of trading amongst like minded people. That said, this also assumes traditional farming techniques. Using a combination permaculture/aquaculture system you could grow enough food for a family of four with various proteins, medicine, fruits, nuts and vegetables on the same amount of land and still have more than enough to sell and trade. I think this is a great starting point for folks, but if you become proficient and use a little imagination and a lot of practice, you can feed a lot more people in the same amount of space.

Elyse Malmquist

I have a house in Zone 9 Yucca Valley, CA on 2.5 acres with a 6’ chain link fense inset. How can I adjust this floor plan to my property?


A nice, basic idea, but I can see many ways this amount of land could be used much more efficiently. The corn and wheat is a waste of space imo. Also, a milk cow gives much more bang for the buck compared to goats.

Kris Koppy

Skip the corn and wheat since wheat has phytic acid and corn is a grain. Grow fruits and vegetables instead and you’ll be much healthier.


It’s not misleading at all – it’s simply stating that if a family of four should choose to do this they could. Or if they live where there is no one to trade with, etc. It’s honest and factual – it just doesn’t necessarily align with your idea of self-sufficiency, that doesn’t make it wrong.


I think first you need to downsize your life. Get out of debt, downsize housing, one person staying at home to do the majority of the gardening, etc. Although, this was interesting, it was too simplified and took little else into consideration other than “space needed”.

Bill MacQuoid

Jamie has a good point. It may be better to concentrate on 3 or four stables and maybe more chickens for trading eggs and such. Barter may be the only way to get what you need and also socialize safely.


I have two acres and a giant south facing roof!!!! Has anyone done the financials on doing this? Labor estimates? Can a family of four seriously work this plan given the constraints of school and work and modern life?

Jamie Jackson

This is misleading. This assumes that the people that live here are the only people on earth. Most people would trade. My neighbor has goats for milk and cheese and I have squash, etc…

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