0 votes

buying land for small family farm

I'm considering buying acerage in northwest South Carolina in the Greenville area. How many acres would be sufficient to provide for a family of five? I'm thinking of a vegetable garden, trout pond, chickens, goats and other necessities to live off the land. Any guesses? Would ten acres be enough? Twenty acres? I wouldn't want to be short on acerage. If you have a small family farm, how much land do you use? Any help would be much appreciated. Another question would be to those who live in that area--is the northwest corner of South Carolina a good place to grow things? Is the soil and weather condusive to these goals? Thanks.

Trending on the Web

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

DID You post this

question previously? About a month or so ago?

dates are in the post.

Posted October 10th, 2008

if you build it he will come..........Ron Paul 2012.
digg http://digg.com/autos/First_Genuine_Chevy_Volt_to_be_Complet...

Here is my input...

Let me start off by asking why Greenville S.C.?

I have done quite a bit of research myself on the small independent farm and here is what I have come up with:

1. Rural is better for a lot reasons but not too far out in the sticks. Finding a town like the one I live in (Franklin, N.C.) has about 5,000 on it's books for population, not to mention all the folk surrounding the county. It is small enough to retreat the potential chaos that might break out in more densely populated areas and yet big enough to support local farming, businesses and markets. Also the scenery is breath taking and the amount of wild edibles is in abundance. There are plenty of rivers within hiking distance, so fishing is quite accessible...no shortage on food in these parts. Plus the wild game that one can hunt around here is also an option.

2. Having your own water source is a must...a combination of a well and the ability to collect rain water using rain barrels is essential to self sustaining. I say this because you will need to manage your outgoings very closely and a water bill is the last thing you will want to worry about. Not to mention that being dependent on the city for water...is not a viable option should the grid go down and the potential for hyper-inflation kicks in.

3. Do not get more land than you can manage. Calculate how many people can actually help you with farming..take everything into consideration when planning for the worse. Illness, injury, pregnancy ect.
If it is just you and maybe your spouse part-time I would say that having anymore than 5 acres will be too much. There is a lot that one can do where all the essentials are met with regards to nutrition on a 5 acres plot and it can be managed by one person if need be.

4. Square foot gardening is the most effective method of gardening using raised beds. Also consider edible landscaping too...there a lot of options.

5. Livestock: Chickens, Earthworms, Goats and maybe Rabbits. Chickens for meat and eggs. Rabbits produce quickly and they are yummy to eat and the fur can be used. Goats will eat anything, so they are easy to manage. They will provide you with milk, cheese, and butter.

6. Find a piece of land with a natural spring head and creek on it...you can build a spring house to keep your perishables from spoiling. Spring houses were used before we invented the icebox ect. The water from a spring head is usually around 38-40 degrees. Cold enough. Should the grid go down or energy prices skyrocket, this is a great way to back you up.

7. Calculate what you need in terms of energy and comfort. You will be surprised what you can live without verses all the little extras. For example, change your lighting to low 2.5 watt LEDs (they draw no amps and are cool to the touch), get composting toilets to fertilize parts of your garden with, use tankless hot water heaters to heat your water for washing ect on demand or build passive solar water heaters, use laptops for low energy entertainment rather than televisions and all the other little add-on (also Desktops use 4-8 times more electric than a laptop), get rid of the land line and use an IP through internet provider and a cell phone for back up emergencies.

I could go on and on but this should get you started...the most important thing is to change how you think. So plan your work and then work your plan. If you need any more help, let me know. This process has already started for me and I am almost done.

Love Has No Opposite!

Love Has No Opposite!

Somebody also said .........

Raise rabbits .... catch droppings in trays under the cages. Use droppings to fertilize raised garden beds and raise earthworms. Use earthworms to feed catfish in barrels. Sounds like a pretty good plan to me!

I've heard of those tankless

I've heard of those tankless water heaters. I've heard they aren't so good for colder climates though. Excellent information, BTW.

All three videos in one place.

I created a separate post for all of the Global Gardener video parts I posted here yesterday. Also, the story of Peter Andrews from Australia is documented in the Of Droughts and Flooding Rains video. The Greening the Desert video documents a permaculture agricultural project in Jordan which was conducted under the most difficult conditions. You may link to all three videos from my tag line.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. :)

The Road Less Traveled by George Strait

Of Droughts and Flooding Rains (Video)

Greening the Desert (Video) Water Harvesting Methods

Global Gardener (Video)

Whoa thats a lot of land for a family of five. You will have

much surplus if you want to sell at a market or roadside with that kind of acreage. Usually just a small plot of land in the sun maybe 20X40, 30X50 feet is plenty for a family your size. Nice if you could hook up a pump to well water for irrigation. You could also have open pit compost to dump your organic kitchen waste, shovel on some dirt and cover with a rubber roof tarp held down with bricks/rocks. This will cook the waste real good and enrich top soil.

I recommend ordering seeds from Baker Creek heirloom seed farm in Missouri. go online to buy. They can trace their organic heirlooms to when the seeds were brought here. They have a 'survival packages' of seeds. I also think seeds will be very good to trade in hard times.


"Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters." Benjamin Franklin

TAKE CARE OF WITHOUT A TRACTOR? The way I see it, TRACTOR=EXTRA EXPENSES if you are trying to have just enough food for a single average size family. Am I wrong?

government of the people, by the people, for the people

get a used tractor

and run it on grease or home made biodiesel from compost!

Just get a couple of Belgian or draft horses

Tractor, schmactor.

My Iowa cousins have been using Belgians and an old-school plow for decades.

Find some Amish and talk to them for ideas. They make a lack of electricity go a long ways.

P.S. Oil lamps and lots of candles. Shakeup flashlights also. And of course, bicycle generators to make power and get in shape at the same time.

Don't forget

how much draft horses (or ANY horses for that matter) eat, though. From an old farm girl :>)

Permaculture Design Course - 47 hours of audio w/ Bill Mollison

Permaculture Design Course audio on mp3 DVD

Bill Mollison was the Australian man on the Global Gardener video parts which I posted in the comments below. Geoff Lawton, whose quote I mention below, was the designer in the "Greening the Desert" video link.

I have owned a set of these recordings for many years. It is a recording of the design course which I actually attended in 1983. They capture Bill in classic form - full of energy, enthusiasm, and passion. As a Permaculture teacher, designer and consultant, working on numerous projects around the world, I have found them to be an invaluable and endless source of reference information and inspiration.

Geoff Lawton,
Managing Director of The Permaculture Research Institute

The Road Less Traveled by George Strait

GREENING THE DESERT (Video) Water Harvesting Methods

I have found...

being originally from Michigan (Lake Odessa) now in California, (San Ramon) that it takes about 3 wooded acres, or 10 un-wooded acres to feel some distance from your neighbors.
If you can afford 20 acres, by all means get it. The more the better, but to answer your question, you can do it on 3 acres pretty easily...
1 acre if your willing to raise rabbits, dedicate almost all of your land to garden, and hunt and fish on public land.
With everything you've listed, I would suggest a 10 acre parcel

Some simple ideas from a non-expert who has a farm.

-If you are planning to make a partial living from the farm, get at least 20 acres. Plant corn. It's a hot property now; it will make money. So will wheat.

-If you are only planning to feed your family with the farm, get five acres. Plant vegetables, raise goats, a few cows, and poultry.

-If you have black gumbo soil, plant a pecan orchard.

-If you have red sandy loam, plant an orchard of peaches, grapevines, and other fruit.

-If you live in the desert, plant melons and Muscat grapes.

-If you live in a cold or mountainous climate, plant apple trees.

Support the Constitution of the United States

Support the Constitution of the United States


the equipment that it takes to raise and harvest corn and wheat!! tractor, drill, equipment to till the land, combine (?) to harvest it .... etc, etc. ... again, from an old farm girl. Can hire it done (now), but expensive.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds has a large book titled

'The Encyclopedia of Country Living. "By Carla Emery. The massive book that covers living off the land like no other! Easy to use info and sources for thousands of items. Learn to grow natural gardens, seed saving, canning, raising animals, keeping bees and so much more! Carla has been working on this gem for 32 years, making it the king of all homesteading books and the largest book we sell. 885 Pages."

Link to Baker Creek website: http://rareseeds.com/

Baker Creek was the seed company that had a booth at the Rally for the Republic! I like to support fellow Liberty-minded businesses. So I ordered this book, requested a catalog and the magazine subscription. I also did some Christmas shopping--bought some music cd's for family members.

New Organic Grower

Eliot Colman wrote a definitive guide to organic farming called the New Organic Grower. You can do it on as little as 2 acres with some creativity - and using his four-season approach keep fresh vegetables on the table for your family year-round. This is the approach I am taking although I am definitely a rookie.

Joel Salatin (fellow RP Supporter) also wrote a book "You can Farm" with some great suggestions (targeted towards a commercial venture). One was using other people's idle land initially (no $ outlay), and building from there.

Permaculture (Bill Mollison) is also another scientific approach that will help you effectively use whatever land/resources you have available. A subset of Permaculture theory is "square foot gardening" - with which many people have has great success, even on urban lots!

I would also recommend articles from Kurt Saxon's "The Survivor" series available at www.survivalplus.com, which deal with many practical issues of self-reliance from growing and storing food to home power generation.

Good Luck!

"Let the good heart speak words of true peace, not inciting others to further war." -- B.I.S.

Hope this makes front page

good information.

"We can see with our eyes, hear with our ears and feel with our touch, but we understand with our hearts."

Farming 101

Here's a link I just posted in another thread that may be of use to you and others just starting out:

Beginning farmers/gardeners: look here

The topic of "how to find land for farming" may be covered in the sites linked to in that thread; I hadn't personally searched for such info, but you may find it there.

(Note: I don't mean to "spam" that DP link; it's just been relevant to a couple of active posts.)


"Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters." Benjamin Franklin

government of the people, by the people, for the people

Try This

Go to: http://www.bankhomesdirect.com/
you can search for foreclosed homes free. Just put in the location you want.

Detective Krum Investigates:

Detective Krum Investigates:

Another site:


I am always searching things on this site. They seem to have most properties from all fed agencies.

I love my country
I am appalled by my government

I love my country
I am appalled by my government

Here's a Golbergesque idea I had

Build a chicken coop large enough for 50 chickens. Put in a rack covered with small hole chicken wire that the chickens walk on and about a foot beneath it is a floor covered with corrugated fiberglass panels that angle down to a trough which feeds into an old wringer type washer. Every day take a hose and rinse the chicken shit off the fiberglass down to the trough into the old washer. Cycle it around a bit and then pump it into a horizontal methane digester where it will produce methane through anaerobic fermentation that can be used for cooking and heating and, if enough chickens are producing enough manure, to run a small generator. The excess from the digester would be fed to the garden to grow corn and other crops for people and for more chicken feed to feed the chickens to produce more poop to make more methane to grow more feed to feed the chickens to make more poop.

Now you are thinking!

I like it.

You forgot some stuff

specifically, the cuckoo clock, rifle, safe, and Tom and Jerry.


Just get the biodiesel garden shed from Purdue.

SMALL farm / check zoning before you buy

10 - 20 acres will do you'...