Can you live off your garden?
How much land do you need to feed a family?
I’ve been trying to do this for many years now so I feel like I have a lot to offer with this discussion. Last year I grew $2,000 worth of food and I was pregnant with two little kids. I didn’t even get to maximize our fall and winter garden which would of added a few months more.
I truly believe there’s never been a better time to grow food for your family!
Have you seen the produce prices go up recently? I believe it’s only going to get worse.
Being able to provide fresh and healthy food for your family is becoming more important and harder to do. The perfect solution is to grow some of your food.
However there are a few factors to consider before figuring out if you can grow enough food to feed your family.
I’ll go into these factors then how many plants per person you need to live off the land, including growing protein.
Factors that determine if you can feed your family with a garden
#1 It depends on your diet
How much produce your family can grow to support your diet depends on how much of it you eat. Some families eat a ton of veggies, others only eat a few but eat a lot of meat. Not only does your diet play a factor, but if you’re serious about growing ALL of your produce, you’re going to have to make sacrifices and adapt your diet to your climate.
For example if our family wants to use an onion in a recipe in May, that’s too bad! It’s not in season and we ran out of home stored ones.
#2 It depends on your growing zone and climate
If you have a hardiness zone of 2 with potential frosts mid-summer, your potential to grow food to support your family is greatly diminished compared to a zone 8. Your climate thus dictates the crops you can feed your family with. On a good note there are many frost hardy crops for these cold climates, you just won’t be able to grow warm season crops.
#3 It depends on how much space and time you have to grow food
The more usable land you have, the more potential to grow all of your family’s produce needs. Things to keep in mind are sun exposure and how much time you have to devote to your garden. A large food garden requires many hours a week of upkeep, harvesting and preserving.
#4 It depends on your food storage means
We happen to have a very large food garden and grow all our veggies from May to November, plus we preserve lots and practice winter gardening to supplement the off-season. But because of our limited food storage means, especially without having a cold room, we cannot grow and store all the produce we’d like to. Learn how to store fresh food in root cellars
Protein is an important part of our diet and many small homesteads include animals for meat or eggs for this reason. There’s a surprising amount of protein rich sources of veggies though too:
- Fava beans
- Lima beans
- Chlorophyll in dark leafy greens
- Dried/soup beans
- Scarlet runner beans
- Dried peas
Some areas won’t have the right zone to grow protein as they often take 80-100 days to mature. This is true for all but the fava beans which are perfect for cool shorter seasons. Peas are also high in protein can are good for short seasons, especially bush types.
How much land is needed?
Of course it greatly depends on what you grow and that depends on what you eat and your climate. One Block Off The Grid (1BOG) comes this helpful infographic showing approximately how much backyard would be needed to provide the alimentary basics for a year
How many plants/person
I’ve seen general guidelines for how many plants/person you would need to grow all of your family’s produce. Although it’s a nice ‘general’ guideline I also don’t like it because every family eats different types of produce.
For example the table says something like this:
Eggplant- 2-3 plants/person; 7 plants for a family of 4.
What if your family doesn’t eat eggplant? or Chinese Cabbage? or Winter Squash?
It’s smarter garden planning to grow what your family is going to eat.
Planning your large family food garden
A huge aspect of growing food on a large scale is in the planning stages.
Ask any farmer and most spend a large portion of the year planning what to grow, crop rotation, sowing and transplanting schedules etc.
Is garden planning challenging for you?
I can help! My ebook ‘Planning & Designing the Family Food Garden’ will guide you through all the stages.
You’ll learn what your family eats, the ways to maximize your garden bounty and how to create an awesome sowing schedule.
My book will help you plan and design a fantastic backyard food garden.
This Book Will Teach You:
- The basics of garden design.
- Factors in deciding what to grow.
- Figure out what your family eats and spends on produce.
- How to maximize your food production with 20 methods.
- Grow the most profitable crops to really dent your grocery bill.
- How to design your garden & offset the costs on new garden beds.
- The basics of succession sowing for increased productivity.
- How to select your seeds and when to sow your crops.
- Creating an awesome sowing and transplanting schedule.
- How to practice crop rotation for healthier soil.
- Advanced crop rotation: when you practice intensive or companion planting.
- Creating a back up plan with crop failures.
- Learn how you can expand your garden and knowledge over the years.
- How to write a garden journal.