A lot of people have asked me “How much food can you grow on less than an acre?” I’m sharing exactly what we produce on our 3/4 acre homestead and what we still buy from the store!
Story time ?
I was in the grocery store the other day grabbing some butter. I had my butter in hand and was preparing to make my dash through the crowds towards the self-checkout stations. As I turned around from the butter, I saw a woman loading a couple gallon jugs of almond milk into her quickly-filling cart.
I stopped in my tracks, completely frozen, staring at this woman! In that moment, it hit me: I realized how dang much my life has changed since we started growing our own food!
My normal shopping habit for the past few year has been to run in, grab the few items I need, and run out. It’s rare if I use a basket and I don’t even remember the last time I needed to utilize a shopping cart.
But in that moment, I realized that just a few short years ago I WAS that woman. I would go the big box grocery store every week and fill a whole cart with food! Food that was grown who-knows-where and that I had zero connection to. Food that I didn’t understand how to be truly grateful for because I wasn’t the one whose sweat produced it. Food that was often grown at the sake of the land and the workers that produced it.
I hadn’t really realized just how significantly my life had changed since we began homesteading. But when I saw that woman, the memories of a million shopping trips came rushing back to me.
When you make little gradual changes over the course of many years, it sometimes takes a moment like this to realize that those little changes actually add up to something pretty big. It seems absolutely CRAZY that was my life not more than 3 years ago!
So, exactly how much food can you grow on less than an acre?
You are probably wondering, like I used to, how much food can you actually grow on less than an acre? Does homesteading on a small property produce enough food to even make it worth the effort?
In my experience: YES!
We moved to our homestead in 2016 and let me assure you that we’ve worked our asses off to get where we are today! We’re not 100% self sufficient, but who is? That’s not how we are designed. We are created to be a part of a community so that we can all utilize our individual strengths and talents.
And just to further help put your mind at ease, let me tell you that we don’t have anything special going for us. Yes we grew up “in the country” but we don’t have homesteading/self-sufficiency backgrounds. Our homestead is just barely over 3/4 of an acre and is surrounded by neighborhoods. We work full-time. Lindy has a chronic degenerative disease. And we knew noooooothing about gardening when we started!
If we can do it, I truly believe that you can too!
But you may still be wondering (like I was when we first started homesteading), exactly how much food can you grow on less than an acre?
While I’d love to be able to give you a percentage, it’s really hard to quantify. I’m sure there’s some sort of formula, but my brain doesn’t want to do that. ? So let’s do this instead: I’m going to share what we still primarily buy from the store and what we raise or grow here on our homestead.
This isn’t an exact science by any means, but it should give you a good idea of what a small homestead can produce. And keep in mind that we have only been here two years. So it’s only going to get better as we improve our skills and continue to coax the property into more efficient production.
Here’s what we currently raise and grow on less than an acre:
- Chickens and chicken by-products like bone broth (we only process our roosters)
- Condiments like salsa, ketchup, cucumber relish, chipotle apricot sauce
- Pickled items like jalapeños, radishes, beets, cucumber pickles
- Tomato products like marinaras, sauces, chili bases, sun-dried tomatoes and diced tomatoes
- Dried beans and green beans
- Milk, kefir, yogurt and cheese
- Fruit like apricots, plums and apples (which is eaten fresh and frozen for use throughout the year)
- A wide variety of veggies like eggplant, okra, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, lettuces and greens, pumpkins, summer squashes and winter squashes that are eaten fresh and stored in various ways to use over winter
- Jams, jellies, marmalades, and fruit syrups
- Berries like raspberries, elderberries and mulberries
- Medicinal and culinary herbs like mint, oregano, thyme, basil, parsley, fennel, lemon balm, yarrow, violet, and sage. These are used to make culinary seasonings and medicinal teas (the official medicinal herb garden is coming in 2019!)
- We also get pastured lamb and pork from our neighbors in trade for farm-sitting their homestead
Here is what we still buy from the grocery store and local market:
- Dried goods like pasta, lentils, quinoa, rice
- Some beans (primarily chickpeas – last year we started growing more of our own beans)
- Nuts & peanut butter (yes, I could make our own nut butter, but the Adam’s jars are the perfect size to use for milking!)
- Coffee, tea & herbs for medicinal tea making (medicinal garden coming in 2019!)
- Baking supplies: Organic whole wheat, einkorn, spelt, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, etc
- Sweeteners like honey, maple syrup and non-gmo sugar (Bees are also coming in Spring 2019!)
- Condiments: Oils, vinegars, lemon juice, mayonnaise, amino acids, sriracha, mustard, Worcestershire
- Salt, pepper and some culinary spices
- Seeds: flax seed, chia seeds and occasionally sunflower or pumpkin seeds (the last two are bought purely for convenience)
- Coconut flakes, coconut oil and full-fat canned coconut milk on occasion
- Butter (We don’t have a cream separator yet for our goat milk)
- Tortillas and occasionally bread (purely for convenience) and occasionally tortilla chips (because they are my kryptonite!)
- Occasionally we will buy seasonal produce that we either can’t grow due to our climate or just aren’t growing yet: apples, bananas, berries, citrus, avocados, sweet potatoes
- Milk (yes, we still occasionally have to buy milk, although it’s very rare. This is usually only when our goat milk is entirely being used to feed goat kids. When we do buy milk, we buy raw milk from the same local dairy where several of our goats came from.)
- Wine (hopefully we will make our own soon)
That’s really it!
Outside of that, the rest of what we eat comes from the produce and animals that we raise. We eat healthy, organic, homegrown food year-round and supplement with these store-bought items. We also have a soft-spot for sushi and pizza, so eating out definitely still happens a couple times a month. Hey, no one is perfect! ??♀️
Our grocery budget is so much less than it used to be! We now spend just $50/week for the two of us and that includes groceries, toiletries, personal items and eating out!
But the best part is that we intimately know how our food was grown and raised. We also produce significantly less trash because so little of our food comes in packaging. And every day, we get to eat high quality organic food that we grew with our own hands right here on our little homestead!
If that isn’t worth it, then I’m not sure what is!
What about you? Is the majority of your food homegrown? And if so, have you had that “standing in the grocery store staring at a stranger” moment of realization yet? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!