The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Feeding the masses with little land

Chinese farmlandIn the early twentieth century when Farmers of Forty Centuries was written, Asia was immensely overcrowded compared to the United States.  Chinese farmers only had about two acres of agricultural land to feed each person, compared to twenty acres per person in the U.S.  In addition, many parts of China had been farmed constantly for four thousand years --- clearly, Chinese farmers weren't subscribing to American tactics of using the land hard then moving on.

Although many of the traditional farming practices outlined in Farmers of Forty Centuries have probably been replaced by mechanization and chemical fertilizers in the last century, I think we still have a lot to learn from the book.  Urban homesteaders will be enthralled by traditions that allow a person to be fed on as little as a sixth of an acre of prime farmland.  And those of us watching the U.S. population explode will be equally interested since we currently have only about three acres of farmland to feed each American.

So how did Chinese farmers feed themselves on such small farms?  Read on.

While you're waiting for tomorrow's installment, drop by our homemade chicken waterer site.

This post is part of our Traditional Asian Farming lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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