Published on August 21st, 2011 | by Becky Striepe5
Self Sufficiency: How Much Land to Feed Your Family?
We talk a lot about food security, self-sufficiency, and growing your own food around here, but how much space would you need to totally feed yourself and your family?
The folks at 1 Block Off the Grid have an excellent infographic on the amount of land you’d need to feed a family of four. Check it:
I like that they make meat, eggs, and dairy optional in this outline for self sufficiency! What do you guys think? Does this look like it would produce enough food to feed a family of four?
Is Subsistence Farming Sustainable?
The more interesting question, in my opinion, is about whether this is a sustainable model. As our population explodes, is 2 acres per person even feasible? Assuming there are around 12 million square miles of arable land on the planet, it doesn’t seem possible that subsistence farming like this alone can support our population of over 6.7 billion people. There are 640 acres per square mile, so that makes about 7.7 billion acres of arable land or 1.1 acres per person. (Editor’s note: Thanks to reader Russell Peto for awesome help with the math on this one!)
Of course, how we’re going to feed our world’s growing population is a huge, complex question. Some folks say that we need genetically modified crops. Others say that GMOs are a threat to the future of food security. Intensive farming methods can help, but when you step up agricultural intensity, it can have its own set of problems, like pollution from runoff and plant and animal diseases that are more of an issue in close quarters.
The short answer is that feeding the world isn’t easy now, and it’s not going to get easier as our population numbers continue to climb.
But this is getting to be a bit of a downer, and I’m much more interested in thinking about the solutions than about the problem, so I’d love to hear from you guys:
- Have you run across any cool ways to grow lots of food in a small space?
- How much of a role do you think that vertical farming/vertical gardening is going to play in our food future?
- I also wonder how much you could shrink that 2 acre number if you added vertical gardening techniques.
- I’m not sure if that arable land estimate included urban areas; maybe urban farming is going to be a big part of the solution, too! What do you guys think?
1bog.org is an organization that offers community discounts for solar panels. The infographic includes how much land you would need for solar panels for energy. For more info on solar panels for your community, go to Home Solar Power Discounts