When you have a house and land, you have a home. But when you have a farm, you have the world. Could you live off your own land? The idea of living off your own land is to be self-sufficient. This article will help you start your journey towards self-reliance.
Lives in the wild
One of my favourite TV programmes is Lives in the Wild by Ben Fogle. Back when we had mainstream TV it was the only TV programme I recorded and watched. You may remember I cancelled our TV licence to save money as we barely watched anything on TV anymore. Instead we just use Netflix and some of the catch up TV channels. We decided we could cope without live TV or the BBC catch up and save the licence money each year.
I actually stopped watching Lives in the Wild when we stopped with the ‘normal’ TV, but writing this blog post just inspired me to search and I can watch it on My5 so I can’t wait to get stuck in as I’ll have lots to catch up on!
Anyway, the reason I love the programme so much is because I secretly dream of being able to live in a more secluded, and of course warm, location. A place where things are simple and we grow our own food, living the off-grid lifestyle. To many that may not be the dream, but to me I think it really is. Of course there would have to be no money worries to make it the dream. I’d need to be able to build a small and comfortable home and a warm climate is a must for me. We could plant fruit trees all over the land and grow vegetables all year round if the climate was right. There would be a golden sandy beach nearby with clear turquoise warm waters, plenty of luscious green countryside and mountains. Of course my husband says this would be paradise and really is all in my head!
I find life in the UK really overwhelming. I also detest the long, cold winters. I suffer with SAD dreadfully each year and basically go into a deep dark mode for a few months. I can’t stand to be cold or outdoors when it is cold, yet I know the outdoors is all I really need. I dream of being able to pack everything up, sell the house, stop worrying about appointments, schedules, pay checks, mortgages, debts, social media and so on, and just go back to basics.
I totally get why the people featured in the series have had enough and want to leave the rat race. Many of them have had high flying careers, but are so much happier once they give them up and live this totally opposite lifestyle.
Permaculture in Portugal
This series and the lifestyle is at the forefront of my mind as my brother-in-law has only gone and done it!
Ben’s brother and girlfriend bought a piece of land and moved to Portugal last week. They towed a caravan out and that’s their current home! The plot of land has two wells which they will use for water. They plan to set up the land using permaculture methods which is a way of setting up the land so everything works together. The aim is to be self-sufficient and sustainable by setting up the land in a way that is harmonious to both nature and humans and allows the humans to live off the land without destroying it. They want to grow their own fruits and vegetables and possibly have a small holding.
They plan on living a much simpler (and warmer) life. They’ll add yurts to the land and possibly build a small home for themselves eventually. It’s a totally different lifestyle and very exciting. I bet it will be hard work, but I hope it all works out.
Could you set up your own organic mini farm?
I love the idea of permaculture and I also love the idea of growing lots of organic food to feed our family. I’ve dabbled in growing a small amount of vegetables in our garden, but it’s nothing really. With working full time, doing up our house for several years and having two children, I just don’t have the time. I would love to grow more and learn more, but it would need to be a dedicated hobby. That doesn’t mean it’s not possible for you though if you have the time and dedication now.
It is tricky in the UK to grow all year round, at least a substantial amount of food of any land you have, due to our cold long winters. If you want to do it properly then you'll need to research what is crop yield? and other similar queries to enable you to maximise the amount of food you can grow each year, not letting any space or seed go to waste.
I’m always inspired by this story of a family who grow nearly all their own food in their garden. It’s amazing: This family grows 6,000 pounds of food a year in their L.A. backyard
Of course the climate in Los Angeles would definitely help this to be a reality!
If you’re environmentally conscious and you’re looking for new ways to make your eating habits more eco-friendly, and save yourself a bit of money at the same time, setting up your own organic farm is a great idea. You could grow most of the produce that your family needs, which cuts your grocery bill in half or even more as the above case study shows. It’s also better for the environment because you’re not using all of the plastic packaging and you’re not contributing to a food industry that produces a lot of carbon emissions. It’s also a great way to teach your family about where their food comes from and it gives them more of an appreciation for the food that they eat.
There are so many benefits to growing your own organic produce and that can be in your garden, in an allotment or even on a piece of land if you’re lucky enough to own some land or could find some for a reasonable price.
If you’ve got some money set aside and you think that starting your own organic mini farm might be a good thing to spend it on, here are some things to consider:
Decide on the size of your farm
If you’ve got a fairly big garden, you might be able to grow some vegetables out there already. If you do that, you won’t have to worry about buying land and equipment etc. but you might not be able to grow a whole lot unless you convert the entire space . Starting a vegetable patch in your garden is still a good way to reduce your carbon footprint and save yourself a bit of money but you’ll still have to buy some things from the supermarket. It’s also a good way of learning about growing food without investing a lot of money, so it’s often a good place to start before you expand and commit to renting an allotment or even buying a piece of land.
An allotment might be the right choice for you as it can often provide a larger dedicated space than in your garden, but isn’t as big as a patch of land might be to set up and manage.
If you are totally serious about this venture and you’ve outgrown your available garden space then you may want to consider going big and buying or renting land!
Finding a piece of land that is close to home and large enough to grow everything you need is the first step, but there’s more to it than that. It’s important that you choose a piece of land that is actually suitable for growing crops on, so you need to test the soil. You might find that you can get a large piece of land for relatively little money, but that’s probably because it’s hard to grow anything there. Before you make any decisions, always have a survey done to make sure that the land is ready for farming.
This article is useful for knowing how much to grow and how much space you might need: Growing enough food to feed a family
The equipment that you need to buy depends on the size of the land. If you’re planting vegetables and crops in a small area, you shouldn’t need any heavy machinery, you can do it all by hand. However, it might be worth investing in some irrigation and watering systems so you can still manage growing alongside your normal job. If you’re buying a really big piece of land to farm then it might be worth investing in a bit of heavy machinery to make life easier. You might be able to find small second hand tractors for sale for a good price. They’re not essential but they will make it easier to get around and move the vegetables and crops once they’ve been harvested.
Deciding what to grow
The first big decision you need to make about your land is what you’re going to grow on it. You’ll be limited by the soil quality because it will be suited to certain things. You should consider what you want to grow when you’re choosing the land and consider the vegetables that you and your family are most likely to eat. If you’re going to feed your family, it’s important that you grow a wide range of different vegetables so you can still eat a varied diet. It’s also a good idea to start with crops that are fairly easy to care for at this point, you can graduate to the more difficult crops once you’ve more experienced.
Do some research
Of course the most important thing is to do plenty of research before you commit to anything financially and also practice growing some things at home or in an allotment to ensure it’s right for you. There are some great farming forums and tons of articles online and videos to help you out, where you can ask questions and pick up some tips. You should also see if there are any other small organic farmers in the area that you can ask for advice. Most people are always willing to help.
You could save yourself a lot of money and reduce your impact on the environment by starting your own small farm, so it’s worth looking into if this sort of lifestyle appeals to you.