How Much Land Do You Need To Be Self Sufficient?


How much land do you need to be self sufficient? This is a question a lot of people have. Personally I don’t really know but I have heard quite a few opinions from others over the years.

Grow all your food on an 1/8th acre!

I know what it takes for me to work toward a self sufficient lifestyle but to give someone a hard set number, there are way too many variables that have a direct impact on that magical number. For anyone to do that does a great disservice to the person asking the question.

  1. How big is your family? Just you and your spouse? Or are you trying get your own show on TLC with the amount of kids you have.
  2. How big is your house? Are you trying to relive Thoreau’s journey of self-discovery or are you trying to be on the next episode of MTV cribs?
  3. Are you going to raise a small dairy herd or are you going to just raise a dairy goat. The amount of land needed is totally different.
  4. Are you going to use traditional gardening methods are you going to utilize bio-intensive gardening principles? Again this will have a huge impact on how much land you need.

I can tell you what our number is, 10 acres. That gives us plenty of firewood for the rest of our lives with sustainable harvesting techniques. We have plenty of room to raise our animals, plant our gardens and have extra left over for hunting on. My recommendation is to sit down and make a list of what your goals are. What do want to raise for food, what kind of animals, etc. Research the required space minimally needed for each item and decide if that fits into what your personal beliefs are for ethically raising your own food.

An example would be our pigs. I know plenty of people that will raise a pig in a 12×12 pen with some even raising them in a section of their garage on a cement floor. To me that is not ethically raising a pig. Pigs are born to roam and rut, not be trapped in a pen that they can barely turn around in as they get bigger. For us; we set aside almost 3/4’s of an acre to give our pigs room to be, well pigs. Again this our personal choice, you can raise them how ever you so choose. Here is the minimum recommended square footage per animal from The University of New Hampshire.

Now if you would like to see some examples of what others have done within the confines of what they have available, here are some samples from people who have utilized their properties in the most effective method they have to work with.

1A 10 acre small scale livestock farm.

2A four acre layout.

31/4 Acre Home Lot

The Self Sufficient Life and How to Live it by John Seymour  gives some excellent examples of one, five and ten acre homestead layouts.

Some smaller optional layouts can be seen in the outstanding book The Backyard Homestead.

quarter acre homestead

I guess what I am saying is to blaze your own path, use ideas from what others have done, but at the end of the day it comes down to what your personal goals and beliefs are. These are what will dictate how much land you need. Good luck with your future homesteading dreams!


  1. I’m assuming we are talking food self-sufficiency here.

    Probably the better question would be how much self-sufficient one wants to be!

    Fully fulfilling all of our needs is a daunting task and a very laborious one.

    I recommend first to analyze what we consume; making a list and then trying to produce a big portion of that. In doing so we will probably overproduce some of the things from the list and then we can use the surplus to barter with the other people for what we can’t produce ourselves.

    That way we produce our own food and create something of value that other people need and are willing to trade for.

    Thanks for the links I found videos very informative!

  2. Part of the answer needs to take into account how much time you want to spend on food growing. The more time you can put in, the smaller the land area you require.

    You can dig gardens, start seedlings, transplant intensively, build and turn fast compost piles, water, weed, mulch, etc on a relatively small area and get a massive output (Google “John Jeavons” for a good system).

    If you don’t have as much time to put in, you can use permaculture techniques and plant low-labour perennial gardens and food forests that pretty much look after themselves. But the output per square meter won’t be as high.