Hi Aranya, looking forward to reading your book. I'd be interested in hearing your view on how much land you think someone in the UK (Yorkshire) would need to, say, get around 80-90% of their calories from it without significant imports, and any suggestions on high calorie staple crops suitable for north England greatly received, I live in the rhubarb triangle
That's a bit of a hard question to answer. I'm assuming we're talking low or no fossil fuel imputs?
I do have one season's experience of literally living off what we could grow in S.W Eire, perhaps a little milder than the north of England, but with some additional microclimates (we didn't have a greenhouse or such like) you could probably manage something similar. I wasn't there long enough to really get a sense of how our nutritional needs were being met in the long term, but for me the bigger issue was the reduction of variety from what I had been eating before and the emotional issues that brought up for me.
We had a big focus on salads & herbs & ate a great diversity of leaves in the warmer months. During the winter we relied on tubers (oca, machua and jerusalem arts in addition to pots), plenty of kale & other brassicas including very tasty brussels, plus a variety of squashes, some oats and hazelnuts and a little hemp seed. The oats were the only grains we grew, the Irish climate being a bit challenging for many others. Deano Martin in Lincolnshire is experimenting with some perennial grains now as part of a polyculture though, which is exciting. We also had a hand cranked juicer which allowed us to juice grass and other herbs to extract green goodness from plants that would otherwise require a lot of chewing.
We had also planted a lot of forest garden perennials, shrubs & trees, but they were in the main too young to be harvested from at that time.
How much land? Well we were on 8 acres, just three of us, but most of it was still wild mountainside. I guess the total area that we gardened was the equivalent of a medium to large size per person, but we also cropped grasses and herbs from elsewhere on the land. If you had animals as well for eggs meat or dairy, you'd have to figure in extra space for them too. We were just following a vegan, mostly raw (saved on fuel too) diet.
So I think it could certainly be done, but we might find it a bit of a shock if it were forced upon us.
Thanks, machua is certainly something new to me, struggling to find refs on the Internet so it might be new to others too! Yeh I appreciate if you only eat local crops the diet might be less interesting but surely the permaculture methods should increase diversity
Yes, if we embrace the many different crops that could be grown here we can expand our diet considerably, being careful of course that we don't import something that could become an invasive problem. Small steps...
Ultimately though, the food we grow only has the minerals present in the soil, so focusing on that will always be one of our main strategies.