How much land do we use to grow our own food?
Thanks to google planimeter (and some awesome new maps,
updated this April!), I can answer Roland's
question about how much land we use to grow our own food. The map above shows
our total footprint on the land (minus our driveway, hunting area, and
woodlot, but including the house and barn) --- 1.118 acres.
These numbers only add up to about half the total acreage of our core homestead because they don't include areas like the gully, trailer, barn, woodshed, water tank, etc. That said, I have included paths, both for people and for the golf cart.
I did some extra math, which I'll post on our chicken blog next week, and came to the conclusion that we outsource 0.36486 acres of growing land to the producers of our chicken feed, and perhaps that or a little more to the growers of our straw. Since you get both straw and grain from the same field, I'm not counting the straw figures into our land area. Nor am I counting the acreage on which the horses who give us our manure graze since manure is considered a waste product of their operation.
We still buy a lot of fruit, but that's because our orchard is young. I think our current forest garden and berry patches will sate even my frugivorous appetite once everything is mature. We will probably expand our berries a bit more to fill in gaps, though.
More relevantly, we buy red meat from a friend, and I don't have any data on how much land and grain she uses to produce that meat --- maybe another half acre? I'm not going to factor in the small amount of dairy products, flour, peanut butter, nuts, cocoa, sugar, and spices we get from the store --- that's beyond my math skills and we could do without if need be. (Except the chocolate -- can't do without that!)
So, to answer Roland's question, if we grew our own chicken feed but stopped eating everything else from the store, we'd be using just shy of half an acre (0.2 hectares) apiece to feed ourselves. This is the exact amount of arable land per person Roland estimates the world currently contains. I'm pretty sure whoever came up with those numbers didn't include steep grazing land in their arable land figures, so Mark could probably get away with adding in his red meat by raising sheep on the hillside. (Actually, I'm not so sure that any part of our property was included in the arable land estimate.)
Although this is just a thought problem, it does make me glad that Mark has been fencing me in, which forces me to fill up the gaps in our core homestead area rather than sprawling out across the back forty. It also makes me ponder whether it might not be more economical (while feeding my control freak tendencies) to hire our helper to turn the quarter of an acre of powerline cut in the floodplain into grain and straw production. I wonder if this crazy flight of fancy will scare Mark more or less than last year's dream of goats?
Our chicken waterer lets you go out of town for the weekend without worrying about your flock.
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