Today I’ll be clearing the fear of your mind on how much land does it take to feed one person, how many acres to feed one person for a year. A person needs about 5 to 6 acres of land to live comfortably, producing their own food. Bear with me while I unfold the mystery of food self sufficiency.Disclaimer: The online calculator is strictly for rough estimation. Field results may vary depending on numerous influential facts.
Becoming food self-sufficient is everyone’s dream, especially as an off grid permaculturist. Producing your own food and saving the cost it takes to travel miles away to purchase food items is also a huge stress relief. While being food self-sufficient is not an easy task, it’s also not impossible.
For off-gridders and other people who find interest in growing their food for health and safety purposes, and more importantly, attaining food self-sufficiency, knowing what size of the land is needed and the basics of small-scale farming are mandatory. Stick with me as I show you how my family and I have stayed away from the grocery store for almost a decade now. Let’s begin!
How Much Land Does It Take To Feed One Person for a Year?
The amount of land needed to feed a person depends on the person’s dietary requirements in question. Being a vegetarian or meat-lover plays a massive role in the space required to grow food themselves.
Yearly, an average American consumes 415 pounds of vegetables and 273 pounds of fruits. To feed a person, you’d need 2300 calories of vegetables, which is the standard amount considering the energy put into farm work daily.
A 0.44 acre of land can produce enough vegetables and fruits to meet up with the daily calories needed for one person to feed for a year.
That said, a vegetarian will need at least 2-acres of land to sufficiently feed for a year, with stable climate conditions to support the growth of the crops in question. Since they’ll only be feeding on vegetables.
An average of 300 eggs can be consumed by a person yearly.
Without any drugs, a hen can lay up to 250 eggs yearly; while this seems like enough for one person, you’ll need a constant flow. Investing in at least 3 hens will do just fine. You’ll need 0.01 acre of land for this purpose.
If you’re considering using ducks as an alternative, the white layer duck can produce about 300 eggs yearly. So you’d be needing about the same number of ducks and land space to raise them on your farm, although a pond is required for ducks.
An average American consumes 1500 pounds of corn yearly, and sometimes over 4 pounds daily.1 bushel of corn weighs about 56 pounds, and a total of 130 bushels can be produced on an acre of land. So, you’d need 0.21 acre of land to produce 27 bushels, sufficient to produce 1500 pounds of corn needed.
An average American consumes 0.6 pounds of meat daily, which rounds up to 202 pounds yearly.
A pig produces 120 pounds of meat, which means an average American will consume just 2 pigs annually.
According to The Homestead Hog, you’ll be needing 0.04 acres of land (162 square meters) per pig. For a total of 2 pigs, you’ll need 0.8 acres of land.
For cows, a 1000 pound steer can produce 430 pounds of meat, which is enough to feed a person for a year. A cow needs 1.8 acres of grazing land to survive yearly.
Goats produce lesser meat than cows and pigs. A goat can produce 40 pounds of meat, which means 5 goats will be needed yearly. An acre of good pasture is sufficient for feeding 5 goats.
Using chicken/duck as an alternative meat source? a total of 145 5-pound chicken/duck will do, as they can produce 1.4lbs of boneless meat. An additional 0.29 acres will be required to raise chicken/duck for meat.
An average American consumes 150 pounds of milk annually yearly.
A Nubian goat produces about 1800 pounds of milk yearly. Just one is suitable to feed one person for a year. Your goat will need 0.012 acres of land (50 square meters) for grazing.
If you’d rather get your milk from a cow, they produce over 19000pounds of milk. So, just one would do, with 1.8 acres of grazing land.
Wheat and Grains
180 pounds of wheat can be consumed by a person yearly.
A bushel of wheat can be grown up to 60 pounds of wheat to feed an average person yearly, you’ll need about 3 bushels of wheat
0.75 acres of land for one person will serve this purpose.
The use of these portions overlaps, as they all cohabit. Livestock feed on the raw farm produce and produces dung that serves as fertilizers needed for crops to grow better – giving room for zero waste practices. Pathways and storage will take up to 0.5 acres.
So, the total amount of land needed to feed a person for a year is approximately 5.5 acres if you’ll be raising all three animals for meat and just 3 acres if you’d instead raise only pigs.
How Much Land Do you Need to Feed a Family of 4 for a Year?
Feeding a family of four requires collective effort and a full understanding of the number of calories each member needs to be fully functional daily, as per necessary energy to carry out farming activities efficiently.
An average person consumes a total of 2000 to 2500 calories a day, and having farmland that can produce over 3 million calories annually is the key to feeding a family of four.
An average American family of four needs 9200 calories of fruits and vegetables daily. To produce enough to feed a family of four, a 1.8 acre of land is needed to plant vegetables that meet the daily requirement.
For a family of four, a total of 6000 pounds of corn is consumed yearly. Since one bushel of corn weighs about 56 pounds and a total of 130 bushels can be produced on an acre of land. It is safe to say that you need an acre to feed a family of four for a year, with more to spare and serve as feed to animals.
An average American family of four consumes an average of 810 pounds of meat yearly. A pig produces 120 pounds of meat, which means an average American will consume just 2 pigs annually and a family of four will consume 9 pigs yearly. For a total of 9 pigs, you’ll need 0.25 acres of land.
For a family of four to feed on cow meat for a year, they will need at least two 1000 pounds cows, as they produce 430 pounds of meat each. To grow and feed two cows, you’ll need 3.6 acres of land.
To feed goat meat to a family of four, you’ll need at least 20 goats that produce about 40 pounds of meat. Growing 20 goats for a family of four will require about 2.5 acres to properly feed them.
Chicken/ducks can also serve as a source of meat to a family of four. Since one person will need an average of 145 chicken/ducks. A family of four will need an average of 580 chicken/duck per year, with 1.16 acres of land to raise them.
A family of four will consume an average of 600 pounds yearly.
To conserve farmland, invest in a Nubian goat, which produces about 1800 pounds of milk yearly, making just one Nubian goat sufficient to feed a family of four. It is advisable to get at least 3 goats so as not to place too much work on just one goat.
Each goat needs 0.012 acres of land (50 square meters). So, three goats need 0.036 acres of land (150 square meters).
Alternatively, A cow can also produce milk for a family of four, producing about 19000 pounds yearly with 1.8 acres of grazing land.
Wheat and Grains
An estimated value of 720 pounds of wheat is said to be consumed by a family of four yearly. 60 pounds of wheat can be got from a bushel
Since a bushel of wheat can be grown on 0.25 acre of land, you’ll need 0.75 acres of land per person.
You’ll need approximately 3-acres of land for growing wheat and grain yearly for a family of four.
An estimated number of 1200 eggs can be consumed by a family of four in a year. Since a hen can lay 250 eggs and a white-layered duck can lay 300 eggs annually, organically.
You’d need a total of 5 hens or 4 ducks on your farm, but tripling the number of hens on your farm is necessary for covering up for losses. That said, you’d need about 15 hens or 12 ducks. To grow your hens/ducks, you’ll need 0.03 acres of land (121 square meters).
If you’re considering having a store to keep farm produce or an apartment that keeps you close to your farm, you’d need at least 0.5 acres of land to make provisions for shelter.
To produce enough food to feed a family of four for a year, provided you have a suitable climate condition, you’ll need about 13 acres of land if you’re growing all sources of meat on your farm and 7 acres if you’re raising just pigs. Remember pathways are necessary for easy farm access, and at least 0.5 acres of land should be invested in that.
Things to Consider Before Going after Food Self-sufficiency Goals
To finally gain liberation from the burden and cost of visiting the market to purchase one food item or another. Here are some considerations to bear in mind:
An average American consumes 1.4 cups of vegetables and 0.9 cups of fruits daily, which falls below Americans’ Dietary Guidelines. While vegetable gardening is essential for healthier diet options, it comes with some really daunting challenges.
Vegetables attract pests like rabbits, birds, spider mites, and aphids that can cause them to rot. Proper pest management is daunting and can get expensive. Weeds cause some problem too.
They are also prone to diseases like Powdery Mildew and Blossom End Rot that can damage your vegetables. Owning a vegetable garden also consumes a lot of time and energy, as they need sunlight and water to survive. So, close monitoring is essential for their growth.
Whether you’re a vegetarian or not, investing in vegetables and fruits is the best way to eat healthier options. In 2019, 30 million households took part in vegetable gardening, which is just enough proof that families in the US and at large are seeing the need to add vegetables to their meal plans for a healthier diet. Vegetable aid digestion and is a good source of minerals.
The fruit and vegetable market is also on the rise, with a value of over USD 104.7 billion, which pretty much explains how important fruits and vegetables are in our diets and how many people are including them in their diet.
Crop farming is vital in achieving any self-sufficient goals. According to FAO, over 80% of food in the world is produced on family farms. Since families from around the globe are producing enough food items to sell and feed themselves, crop farming should be considered when you’re on a journey of attaining self-sufficiency. This way, you get to grow a variety of crops and save money from buying overpriced food items from the market.
When growing your own crops, you’ll be faced with pests and diseases that might drastically reduce your yield if you don’t manage it properly. Using organic pesticides and herbicides is a safe method, but not the easiest. Gaining access to enough water to care for your crops, especially in dry seasons, is another stumbling block you’ll need to overcome.
Poultry farming introduces your farm to two sources of food – eggs and chicken. An average American consumes 65.2 pounds of chicken daily and an average of 279 eggs yearly, which includes boiled eggs and omelet. However, poultry farming also comes with its own baggage.
Poultry is susceptible to a disease outbreak that can wipe of all your birds at once. Feeding your poultry is also expensive, which is why crop farming is essential in producing food to feed your birds.
Gaining access to quality and sufficient water can also be a problem in poultry farming. These birds also attract a couple of prey, but a right cage will suffice.
For a variety of meat and milk production, livestock farming is yet another milestone to accomplish when aiming at food self-sufficiency. According to the USDA, a person can consume 54.5 pounds of meat.
There are some daring challenges you’ll face when livestock farming. The main issue is their attraction to pests and diseases; vaccination and proper medical attention are the only way to avoid your livestock’s death. Grazing land is sometimes insufficient too, which might lead to starvation in your livestock.
While honey is not an essential requirement in our daily dietary needs, at least 1.697 pounds of honey is consumed per person in the U.S. Beekeeping comes with just one challenge: inadequate knowledge of the colony. Knowing where to position your beehive, how to get honey, nectar for feeding, and how to handle the Queen Bee is usually a tough one to learn.
Snails are highly proteinous and inexpensive to cater to. Raising snails is an excellent way to change taste when you’re tired of the same old protein sources.
Agricultural practices like mulching and manuring should also be considered when running your farm. Preserving soil nutrients and structure is essential for the growth of crops to avoid damages that can ruin your food self-sufficiency goals.
Is Growing Your Food Worth It?
Being able to monitor the process it takes to get farm produce is a healthy choice. Depending on industrial farmers, inorganic practice methods unsafe to the environment and your health aren’t the best option. Trusting factory farming produce is difficult with the harsh conditions animals are put to survive in. With over 80% of slaughtered pigs infected with pneumonia upon death, raising your food seems like the right thing to do.
According to the Bureau of Labor, an average American can spend 12.6% of their net income yearly on food. The Consumer Expenditure of Survey also states that about $750 is spent on vegetables and fruits. These costs can be avoided when you grow your food, saving you over $6000 yearly, especially if you barely eat out.
Advantages of Growing and Raising Own Food
Keeping a close eye on your food and being in control (to a large extent) of how well they turn out is a big win. Below are more reasons why growing/raising your food is a big win:
Healthier and safer food options
Growing your food means knowing your food. Unlike purchasing from commercial farmers whose farming method you’re unsure of, cultivating your crops is an assurance that you get to eat healthy and nutritious food. These crops are also pretty fresh, not locked away for a long time.
Saves you money
Buying overpriced food items wouldn’t be a part of your worries when you grow your food. You buy seeds at a lower price and get enough to feed on at the end of each plant’s development cycle.
Puts the body to work
Farming activities are one good way to exercise daily. Lifting and transporting can help in stretching your muscles. The physical activities associated with farming are a good way to keep all parts of the body up and running.
The activities carried out in commercial farming involve the application of environmental-harmful substances. While these substances and methods are known to aid planting and harvesting, they also leave the environment an open target for deterioration. When growing your food, the fossil fuel needed to till the soil, transport, and harvest your food wouldn’t be needed anymore.
Helps you enjoy nature better
Stepping outside to carter for your crops helps you enjoy the fresh breeze nature has to offer. You also get to absorb the Vitamin D the sun provides, which is good for your skin, bones, and teeth.
An educative family activity
Growing your food is a good way to help your loved ones find interest, especially kids. When they see how invested you are in catering for the growth of your crops; they also want to show support and do the same willingly. This way, you all get to learn more about farming and spend more time doing the things you love doing together.
Disadvantages of Growing and Raising Own Food
Growing your food isn’t always a bed of roses. Here are some reasons why it isn’t as smooth as you might think;
The time it takes to care for crops and livestock is a lot. You will be spending a lot of time providing sufficient nutrients and water for their proper growth and development. In cases where mixed farming is in practice, more time is required if you need healthy produce.
Gardening is never an easy task. The digging, weeding, tilling, and other practices that guarantee adequate germination can be daunting. Growing your food takes a lot of energy. Most times, you’re either standing or bending for long hours, which is detrimental to your muscles. Expect bruises and blisters when taking charge of how your food is grown.
Exposure to pests and diseases
What is a farm without a couple of pests and diseases that challenge the growth of your crops? Asides from the low yield, pests and diseases might cause; some affect humans too, which could be detrimental to your health.
As a subsistence farmer, growing crops largescale will be difficult, if not impossible. Keeping up with all farm practices and employing machines would be a heavy burden for you to carry. Hence, small-scale farming will be the appropriate option.
Ways of Making the Best use of Farmland
Permaculture is a farming method, which embraces a design that boosts the ecosystem, making it self-sufficient and self-sustainable. This agricultural process cuts off all forms of harmful practices that degrade the environment and nature and allow methods that help wildlife flourish conservatively.
The idea is to help earth and nature operate cohesively and help each other grow in such a good way for the environment in terms of fresh air, nutritious food, and excellent soil content.
Running a micro-dairy
Having a few cows to produce milk is one way to diversify your agricultural practices and food option. Beginning small scale is the best way to go about owning a dairy, as cows cost about $1500 to $5000, which is a considerable cost for one family to bear.
Poultry is a profitable business, and a sure way maximizes the use of your farmland. There are over 233,000 poultry farms in the US, making it the largest poultry meat producer in the world. With the sum of $5000 to $25000, you can start a small-scale yet standard poultry farm. This way, you can generate extra revenue for you and your family or have poultry meat and eggs to consume, thereby encouraging variety.
Unlike commercial farms that focus on cultivating just one particular crop, you can make proper use of your farmland by diversifying. Market gardens reduce frequent grocery purchasing and the need to rely on other farmers for food. Planting a combination of vegetables, fruits, and having livestock present is all you’ll need to feed yourself and your family, with enough to sell to make money if you may.
Beekeeping comes with benefits beyond your expectations. Not only do you get raw honey for personal use or sales, but bees are also great for pollination. Setting a beehive is inexpensive and requires little space while boosting diversification.
Putting your farmland to fair use isn’t the easiest or inexpensive task, but you get your money’s worth with time.
FAQs on Required Land for Self-Sufficiency
Nothing brings you more joy and a sense of pride than successfully producing your food. However, it is good to bear in mind that this is never an easy task. Growing your food requires consistency and hard work. The first few years are rough and bumpy, but it gets easier as time goes by. Once your crops and animals adapt to your farmland, controlling and feeding them will not be as difficult as when you started. Now you know how much land does it take to feed one person.