Self-Sufficiency Acreage Requirement?

Hi Everybody,
I am working on long-term plans for self-sufficiency, oriented to buying some bare land and building an off-grid house, rainwater catchment, composting toilet, etc, etc.
One issue is the question of how much physical space would be needed to grow enough food to completely support myself?
I am willing to eat anything that is healthy, preferably remaining vegetarian (although I am quite willing to have chickens for eggs, and perhaps a goat for milk.)
This would involve one person living alone, in decent physical condition, willing to do hard work and learn whatever is needed.
I realise that the yearly food yield will have to be spread out via preserving, canning, etc.
My "day job" can be done remotely, via wireless Internet connection, with flexible hours, thus leaving time and opportunity for extensive gardening/farming, etc.
I do understand the risk of, for example, having a bad year, bad weather, etc, and so would have money set aside to buy food in that case. But the plan is to avoid that if at all possible.
I live in New Zealand, with plenty of rain in winter, but also reasonable sunshine in summer.
So... How many acres of flat, farm-able land will I need?
Thanks in advance!
-V.
--
Guide To DIY Living
http://www.self-reliance.co.nz
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On Sun, 7 Dec 2003 06:56:32 -0800, Down Under On The Bucket Farm

Entirely or in part? American pioneers often supplemented their homesteads with things like flour, oil, sugar, and salt. Your posts indicate a beginning gardner. See how much veg you can harvest and preserve this year. What are you willing to give up? Meaningful grain production (and processing) is problematical. Are you prepared to properly care for goats and chickens? Food, shelter, vet issues? A vegetarian diet implies quite a selection of foods. This is also a labor-intensive effort in many ways. 'Spare time' just doesn't cover it.
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I guess I'm taking "self-sufficiency" too literally. I think it would be virtually impossible for one person or family to be entirely self-sufficient. If you include barter or sale of what you have excess of -- that is, relying on your own land and labor to support you in whatever way practical -- that's a different story. Reductio ad absurdum, one could easily be "self-sufficient" if one had an oil well in the back yard. L-) I expect one could grow enough veg so as not to have to purchase any extra. But even a vegetarian can't live on canned tomatoes and green beans alone. The OP mentioned goat(s) and chickens, which means fodder of some sort and grain, and shelter. Experience with a 20'x40' veg plot made me *very* aware of how difficult real farming must be. Between too hot/cold, too much/too little water, diseases, pests, weeds, and inexplicable failures to grow, I'd rather not depend on my own efforts to sustain me.
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On 8 Dec 2003 12:25:37 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net (Tallgrass) wrote:

^_^ Why can't an over-abundance of tomatoes occur in (N. hemisphere) October? Figs are nice. Here (zone 7b or 8), they ripen in late fall. No problem atall filling the kitchen with the scent and steam of jam. Tomatoes in July? I'd rather eat bees than add heat and humidity (and labor) to an already sauna-like day. Collards are sweeter after a frost, I understand.
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Where *is* the Bucket Farm guy? We need more parameters.
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On Sat, 13 Dec 2003 10:28:38 +1300, Peter Huebner

Good to hear from someone who's been there. I believe one person *could* be "self-sufficient" for at least a few years in an area rich in 'wild' foods and with a very mild climate. But even Robinson Crusoe salvaged some pretty nifty stuff from his shipwreck. :-)
Whether in a single or group situation, true self-sufficiency would seem to require a *whole* lot of work -- unremitting toil, in fact. And no days off. Complain as we do about industrialized food production, economies of scale and specialization *do* make a difference. We laugh about our US$5 tomatoes, considering cost of plants, boughten-dirt, fertilizer, water, and labor to bring one forth, but it's not far off in many cases. How much space and time and labor (and luck with bugs!) does it take to produce a pound of dried beans?
The pioneer ideal notwithstanding, most pioneers were in it for the land and hopes of subsequent monetary success, not an Eden-like existance. You *always* need money for the things you don't/can't produce. Try paying for a pair of glasses or boots with tomatoes!
The Bucket person hasn't been back, as far as I've seen. So we have no idea of what he actually meant by "self-sufficiency." At least it's generated a lot of interesting posts and references.
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On Sun, 14 Dec 2003 19:50:33 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@adsfgh.com (dstvns) wrote:

American nutrition labels are based on a 2,000 cal/day diet, which is, I presume, a *very* rough average for a moderately active adult -- i.e., not bedridden but not out plowing, either. Tour de France bicyclists consume 5->9,000 calories per day just to stay even. 3 to 4,000 calories for someone engaged in 8 or more hours of vigorous physical activity, like farmwork, is more than reasonable.
BTW, the edible part of an artichoke contains practically no calories at all. It's the melted butter or mayonnaise sauce. :-)
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On Mon, 15 Dec 2003 19:09:00 +1100, "Fran"

Au contraire. Richard presented quite a few examples and numbers. The original question, like so many others that generate a lot of interesting discussion, is a nuanced one. What does "self-sufficient" mean? A hunter/gatherer nomadic existance? *Entirely* depending on one's own efforts to live without any transactions with others? Bucket mentioned vegetarian (not vegan) and telecommuting. So we can assume he uses money, and is just looking to produce much of his own food. As has been pointed out a number of times. a vegetarian diet with sufficient calories to sustain life would be *very* difficult for one person to achieve *on his own*. He may well be able to grow (and preserve) enough veg to eliminate the need for store-bought. He *will* have to have canning supplies, an energy source for canning, and time to do that work. Veg provide nutrition, but not many calories. It isn't the potato, it's the sour cream and butter. :-) Fats and sugars are calorie-dense foods. He proposed goats and chickens for milk and eggs, but they're labor-intensive food suppliers, and *also* require their own food.
I wonder if there are *any* modern examples of true individual self-sufficiency.
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On Mon, 15 Dec 2003 06:28:07 -0600, "Bob Peterson"

Not true. With very few exceptions, people have *always* traded what they had excess of for what they did not produce. *Communities* have been self sufficient, owing to cooperation and specialization among the group. The "ideal" early American farm traded grain for milled flour, animal skins for metal implements, wood for meat. Or meat for wood. They had to buy or trade for salt, sugar, much clothing, etc.

Butter and cheese imply a dairy operation. More work, and more need for animal food supplies. The Irish diet before the potato famine was far from dairy-rich. And not exactly the nutritionally-complete regimen anyone would care to try today. One can stay alive for quite some time on nutritionally-deficient diets. Not healthy, but alive. Your teeth and hair fall out, and your legs bow, but you're still alive. This is not exactly a picture of home-grown bliss.

The OP *did* mention goats for milk and chickens for eggs. More feed; more work.
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