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  #1  
Old 07/20/10, 03:27 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Eastern WA
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How to live on one acre or less

I wanted to ask you all to give me ideas on how one can build a somewhat sustainable food source on about 1/2 to 1 acre. I'm thinking what systems of having small livestock and using the waste from one species to feed another or to grow crops that feed livestock as well as people are possible? What do you all know? Let's assume that zoning is not an issue and that there are adequate sources of water, the soil is ok to start with - just a basic acre of land - what would YOU do with it to provide yourself and family with food and what else you might do to provide other things you consider important. I'm looking for systems that work together and recycle waste back into the system. I'm aware that no such system will be entirely sustainable.

Thanks for your ideas!

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  #2  
Old 07/20/10, 03:33 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Idaho
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No matter what size of place you have, you don't toss any thing.
We have just 1/10 or even less of an acre and our back yard is a garden. the waste from the garden goes to feed rabbits and any thing they cann't eat just goes in the compost. Their waste goes in the garden. If i had chickens they could share garden waste as well as eating worms for protien.
All our garbage is consitered for composting and here wood ashes from heating the house also go in the garden. Th rabbits also eat prunnings from the plum trees.

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  #3  
Old 07/20/10, 03:41 PM
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Location: Eastern WA
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How many rabbits can you grow a year on your 1/10 acre? Do you have to supplement with commercial feeds? If not, what do you feed them, if you could be more specific?

Thanks!

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  #4  
Old 07/20/10, 03:42 PM
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
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These folks are a fabulous example of doing it all on a small lot...http://urbanhomestead.org/journal/.

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  #5  
Old 07/20/10, 03:45 PM
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: CHINA
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My new chicken coup is 8*8ft with a shed roof, elevated 2 ft off ground....enough room for 30 birds....rabbit cages will be attached to the outside of building and then fencing around the bottom of the bunny cage legs...the bunnies waste grain which the chickens will clean up and the bunny poo attracts bugs/worms(more chix food)

If your lot is open plant fruit trees on the north side of your garden area so shading is not an issue...sunflowers too
Chickens will eat pumpkin/potato/apples etc so if you can grow extra and need winter feed...comfrey is an excellent easy growing food for bunnies as well wild apples

I'd add a couple of well contained goats if you like milk....a veal calf on extra goats milk is quick and easy...

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  #6  
Old 07/20/10, 04:09 PM
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This link might interest you.

http://www.farmandranchliving.com/20...PMCode=&OrgURL

Urban Farmer
He Grows Crops in Other People’s Backyards


Here's another interesting link.

http://urbanhomestead.org/journal/ta...-off-the-grid/

Quote:
They harvest over 6,000 pounds of produce on less than a quarter of an acre, while running a popular website that is known around the world.
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  #7  
Old 07/20/10, 04:27 PM
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,905

might check out robert hart's forest garden:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_...horticulturist)
http://www.spiralseed.co.uk/forestgarden/

he had about 1 acre or less, and grew lots of fruit and nut trees. also intermixed plantings in multiple stories, similar to permaculture concepts. multiple stories = trees, shrubs, vines, plants, root crops, all intermixed.

--sgl

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  #8  
Old 07/20/10, 05:17 PM
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Central Arkansas
Posts: 733

Might I suggest the book the book "The Backyard Homestead". It's a wonderful book and well worth the investment. It has layouts and alot of information for utilizing property from one-tenth of an acre up to a full acre.

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  #9  
Old 07/20/10, 05:20 PM
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Posts: 736

This is pretty interesting to me too, since we recently moved to a 1.03 acre, zoned ag property. We are just settling in and have a lot to do, so I can't tell you how well it is going for us. Eventually we hope to buy another acre or so behind us for extra pasture. I have rabbits and will be getting chickens after I return from a trip to visit family. I want to get turkeys and ducks too. I am also hoping to have goats. The neighbors raise organic hay with clover and timothy in it and I will be buying in hay from them. I also buy rabbit pellets, but hope to reduce the amount by the time my garden is up and running next year. Would love to bring in a weaned pig to fatten each year, but I might have rethink that since we have subdivisions across the road and I'm not sure how they will react yet.
Good luck and keep the ideas coming!

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  #10  
Old 07/20/10, 05:57 PM
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Join Date: May 2007
Location: SC
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Don't forget the bees !!
They don't take up much room and really produce a great product.

We feed garden waste to our chickens, then turn around and use the compost from the coop in the garden. After the bees do their job we get great veggies and the circle goes again.

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  #11  
Old 07/20/10, 06:04 PM
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Location: Idaho
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We do buy feed for the rabbits, but sell enough of the rabbits to cover the feed purchased.

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  #12  
Old 07/20/10, 11:12 PM
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Southern California
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Rabbits, chickens, orchard (dwarf trees), berries, veggie garden. Grow your chickens some feed corn to save on costs. Buy the bunnies grass hay and some alfalfa pellets if you must, but give them fresh food from the garden, too. Import nutrients. Never export them. Compost everything. Make woody trimmings into mulch with a chipper/shredder.

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  #13  
Old 07/21/10, 01:20 AM
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Aquaponics. You can raise more in a smaller area.

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  #14  
Old 07/21/10, 05:15 AM
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Virginia
Posts: 2,512

The real and true key to doing a lot on a small space is to remember this one tiny bit of very wise advice I received:

The smaller the space, the more complicated the system, the more oversight it needs, the more cascading any failure will be.

Basically...when things have to be squeezed, like the DerVaes place, and very interlocked on a small space the more dangerous any deficiency or problem will be for the whole system. While you can do it, it requires a consistent level of care and feeding and a quick and firm reaction to any new problem.

Take a common problem like aphids. When you have a large area or two for gardens, widely spaced apart with lawn or chickens or what-not between, an infestation of aphids can be sequestered more easily and "bait" plants left infested in order to attract ladybugs into laying their eggs on the bait plants. When you have an infestation on a tightly packed square foot garden or vertical garden or whatever, then you have to get the infestation under control asap AND it will infect more plants more quickly. AND if you've set your chickens or rabbits up nearby, how will what you do for the aphids affect them? The fruit trees in pots all around it? The aquaponics set up to feed fish water to plants? So, you have to stay on your toes.

This was good advice to me and while I love my raised bed garden, I can see the difficulty should I try to do even more in that small area. So, the compromise is to figure out how tightly you can pack while still having the room to work the problems that will surely creep up.

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  #15  
Old 07/21/10, 07:19 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: michigan
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On about a acre here, I have rabbits, 27 fruit trees,3 kinds of grapes,Blueberries,2 kinds of Raspberries, herb garden,veggie garden,greenhouse,Silkies for brooding,heavy layers for eggs and meat, corn patch, vine patch. Have had fish. The rabbits are Angora for my spinning/weaving/knitting and their manure is for tea for the garden. I could eat them but do not like the meat. The rest of our land grows the hay for our cattle. The "yard" supplies far more of our food than the rest of our acreage.

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  #16  
Old 07/21/10, 10:13 AM
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Location: Lake Station
Posts: 14,759

I have 1/4 of an acre, and part of that is taken up by my trailer and shed and opne side is too shady really to grow edibles (except for shadberry)

rule #1, there is no need for lawn. I'm still working on getting rid of mine, slowly and surely.

I am limited on funds and time so it's a long process for me LOL!

rule #2 you will find that you can plant a LOT of semi dwarf and dwarf trees in the same space as one full sized tree will need.

rule #3. Waste nothing. Compost compost compost.

rule #4 grow creatively. Have patio roof supports? thats a perfect spot to grow vining veggies or fruits. I have concord vines on mine and have grown gourds before there too.
You don't have to do strait rows. Grow UP. grow things on trellises and supports rather then letting them sprawl. Instead of using normal landscapeing, make your ornementals edible too--I have blueberries as shrugs, elderberries too, I have strawberries, cranberries, and simmiler edibles as ground covers. A lot of flowers are edible too. Herbs and flowers are great for attracting good bugs as well.

grow small meats. I've raised rabbits and chickens here too, BUT I simply don't have the time to devote to them (I work 60-70 hours weeks) on top of everything else I do. Wasnt fair to the animals so when I butchered them didnt get more.

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  #17  
Old 07/21/10, 12:12 PM
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Location: zone 4b-5a
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I was driving through town yesterday and noticed a half-double block that planted squash around the front flower bed.

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  #18  
Old 07/21/10, 01:33 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Eastern WA
Posts: 6,076

I'm really enjoying the responses here, thanks!

I have a question - I find that as I get older I don't have as much energy and strength to work in the yard as I used to. Also where we live it gets really hot in the summer and I don't deal well with heat at all. We have about 2/3-3/4 of an acre of land with a house and a large garage on it. We do have ducks for eggs and meat (and pets too, horribly spoiled because at this time we can do that). We do have a veggie garden in raised beds and put in a "berry bed" this year with raspberries, rhubarb, currants and gooseberries. We have three semi dwarf apples trees, but rarely any apples because it freezes after they flower most years. We also have fruiting bushes and do plan to plant more, as well as an herb garden.

There is a lot of lawn around though, which my husband is kind enough to water and mow. Everyone speaks of taking out the lawn, but what will replace it that won't be more work? I'm thinking that removing the lawn will leave us with a lot of weeds to deal with and I am not able to fully weed our our landscaping beds each year as it is. I find it difficult to keep up with weeding the garden and even harvesting - I groom dogs and end up pretty busy and tired in the summer.

So... I'll add to the challenge - make this accessible for people that are older, slower or very busy!

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  #19  
Old 07/21/10, 02:00 PM
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: CHINA
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Its about converting the lawn into something productive...I'd dump the unproductive apple trees and get something better for your growing zone...I'm zone 4/5 but often buy things that are zone 3/4 to prevent frost from getting my trees...Liberty apple trees are ones that I got this year...Saskatoons....wild plums

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  #20  
Old 07/21/10, 02:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cnichols View Post
Might I suggest the book the book "The Backyard Homestead". It's a wonderful book and well worth the investment. It has layouts and alot of information for utilizing property from one-tenth of an acre up to a full acre.
I agree this is an excellent book worth checking out.
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