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How much land do I need??  RSS feed

 
Posts: 7
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Hi permies,

I don't know where this belongs, so I'll post it here. I'm starting to figure that almost everything is bullshit. Money, economy, stock exchange, career, things... soo much bullshit.
Anyway, I've managed to accumulate some savings, but looking at all the bullshit right now, I think there is a high chance it'll all go to waste. i simply have no trust in the world out there. So I've been thinking that I should invest into land. Because land, nature, is the only thing which can really sustain me on the long run.

And not only that. I think - or I dream - that nature is the only thing that could save me from stress and bullshit. Don't get me started on bullshit that we call job. Being managed by fear, uncertainty and doubt. I mean, when you think of it, the whole concept when we work for something that isn't really ours is beyond stupid. The companies want us to work our asses out, yet, when they don't need us any more.. so it goes. And cities. Cities are engineered for lifelong slavery when you think of it. People in cities rely on jobs. No job, no food. Yet, everyone is rushing into the lifestyle, getting closer to the city, to be close to the jobs.. to be a slave. Bullshit. it's all bullshit.

So yes, I want to start unplugging. At the moment I'm actually earning decent money so it would be stupid to jump out, as I can, hopefully, pile some more capital in the next few years. So I'm looking for land with a small house. Somewhere where I could spend weekends (or even weeks when I can). What I want to do is plant trees. I want to invest into nuts. Walnuts, hazelnuts, maybe also chestnuts (not technically a nut). That's what I could grow here in Europe. Nuts are basically the core of my diet, can be stored for a long time, very healthy. I know I need 5+ years to harvest them, but I'm interested in the long term, not short term.

Once I have my nuts, I'd add some other trees, apples, pears, plums... again, plums are good for jam, which can be stored. And from there I'd also create a garden. I hope to grow peanuts, but then also some veggies like potatoes, greens, tomatoes... who knows.

TLDR: The question is: how much land do I need. Let's say I want to feed a family of 4 on the long run, but maintain a weekend only garden on the short run, what am I looking for? I'm thinking more like large garden rather than small farm. Then again, buying too small and I'm constrained for life. Buying to large and I'm getting my self more than I can handle.

Please share your experience. My climate is central european I guess. There are some options in the colder&wetter hills, and some options in the plains. I'm looking no further than 1.5 hour ride from where I live, which is one of the european capitals.

Thanks for any inputs!
 
gardener
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I am gathering that you live in one of the countries of Europe correct?
Since you say "central Europe" So I'm going to guess France or Germany, if you would give us that information you will get better answers but you have let us guess so that is what I'm going to do.

If I lived in France or Germany and I wanted to grow Nuts and Fruits, I would be looking for at least 5 hectares and preferably 10 hectares, nut trees and fruit trees need space between them for roots to grow and you need space to be able to get in there to harvest (fruits mostly since nuts will fall to the ground).
This land size is what I would look for if I just wanted to supply my own food needs and have a little for trading with others. If I wanted to have enough to sell at a market I would double or triple the land size to 30 hectares, that would give me enough space to have good quantities for taking to market.

Nut trees need around 12 meters between trunks and if these are going to be large trees(20 meters or taller) that spacing goes up to 20 meters or more between trunks.

Most fruit trees do well when there is 15 meters between trunks. 

If you leave enough space between your tree trunks, you can have garden beds for vegetables in between the tree trunks, but you need the ability for sun to get to the vegetable plants for most of the daylight hours.
 
mike baron
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Hi Bryant, thanks for your answer!

Are you sure those numbers are correct? If I assume 6 trees per 100 meters in a grid, that's 36 trees per hectare, which should be about 700kg of wallnuts... now with 10Ha, that's lots of nuts! Qucik googling tells me some people have yuelds of 3.000 kgs per acre / which is half a hectare, which seems a lot!

As for the climate, France/Germany is close enough I guess. The climate here varies and can change very quickly. Down here in the plains it's warm and relativelly dry, if you go a bit higher it's colder and can be more wet, and then there are the Alps of course... So it makes no sense to pinpoint excactly, I'm in a location with all those climates relatively near.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1893
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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I too think that we should move away from grass seed (agriculture) and back to tree seeds (horticulture).
About 10  hazel nut tree should provide all the calories an adult need so 40 trees for a family of 4.
Get the 15ft dwarf versions. Obviously you need more than just calories to survive, so go ahead and throw in some other 15ft nut trees.

In my views, an acre could provide fish, eggs, chicken, fruits, nuts, nutrient dense vegetables, mushrooms, and herbs.
If you want some coppice firewood get another acre. so now 2acres (1 hectare)

If you wanted to have some sheep/goat/cow for milk-cheese, meat, fibre. Then get another 8 acres (4 hectare).
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Mike, I was presuming you wanted to grow multiple species, not a mono crop, and don't forget that the weights you read about are for in the shell nuts, not meats only and there is a lot of weight in those shells.
The reason for the extra land is that you are going to need infrastructure to house any machines, harvested crop also needs a place to be held until market time, and you might want to live on that land too.
Plus, should you, at a later date, decide to have some animals for meat, fiber, eggs, etc. those are going to not only need housing but pasture, and even chickens need around half a hectare per 50 birds to not over work the soil.
Hogs kept for a year (as an example) on pasture will require 1 hectare per hog so you can move them around for grazing and not destroy any of your pasture.
If you want a milk cow or goats for milk, again you are looking at about 1 hectare per animal so they can be moved about so the previous pasture can recover between grazing times.

Usually to really make any money (nut production for example) you are going to be dealing with metric tons of product unless you plan on packaging the product yourself.
If you do package yourself, you will have to have a packing shed large enough to hold the product, the empty packages and the filled packages and this space might be required to be inspected and approved first and /or every season.

I know a lot of people who have seen our life style and thought they wanted to jump in, then they found out how much work there really is to it and they changed their minds about becoming farmers.
It is a great life style, but your hours are daylight (or before) until dark (or after), your bed time gets earlier and you rise earlier too.
Example: we get up at 5 am, work until 6 or 7 pm and are in bed by 9:30 at the latest 7 days a week

I currently have around 3 hectares that are not in development on the farm, they are still forest and I hope to keep them that way, most our land is pastures for our animals and around 2 hectares is fruit trees, house and out buildings and vegetable gardens.
Each of our fruit trees currently takes up (measured to the drip line) a 6 meter diameter space and that is with no space between branches for a ladder even. (I have to prune them back this winter).
Our fruit trees are pear, plum, peach, mulberry, Arkansas black apple and figs currently, we plan to expand the orchard area to another half hectare next year.
Keep in mind that right now we only produce enough for two people to eat all year and we don't plan on going into market production.  (by the way the chestnut tree is a true nut tree it is part of the beech family (beech nuts))
 
pollinator
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If I were in a moist climate I would look into ponds for fish and other aquaculture, as fish basically raise themselves, can be harvested at any time of year, and don't need refrigeration because small enough to eat in one sitting.  More protein can be raised in a pond than by land animals on the same area of land.

The famous Sepp Holzer does a lot with ponds on his steep land in Austria.  He also grows a lot of trees.  In many areas hill land is less expensive than flat land, because it is harder to farm conventionally.  Hill land has more opportunities for gravity-fed systems.

Another example of someone working with hill land in a cold moist climate is Ben Falk of Vermont.
 
pollinator
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Mark Sheppard (shear, total, and utter neglect) shares his thought process regarding tree spacing.  I have no idea how much land you should have but I imagine you could do it on an acre with intensive planting techniques.  Mark talks about filling in production with annuals and quick perennials while you wait for your nut trees.

I love the way this guy thinks.  Hopefully, you will find something useful in the vid.    I have three acres that started as grass.  I do everything by shovel and old pickup.  If I maximized my three acres I could feed a small village.   If you are starting with three acres you might be concentrating on 1/4 acre of intensive planting. That is probably an overestimate if you are starting from scratch and not bringing in the bulk of your nut trees.    I throw out trees here and there, start seeds in a nursery bed.  Add whatever seeds I get.  Propagate what does well and plant it out.   If you have a lot of biomass on your land you are ahead of the game.

 
S Bengi
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I like going with short plants (shrubs like blueberry and super dwarfing 9ft to 15ft fruit/nut trees).
Because they are easier to harvest esp if we age on site and want to limit machinery for home only consumption.

If I was going to do market garden and want to limit the amount of land that is used for that. I would focus on herbs and mushrooms.
And also value added products. A herb CSA. Maybe some exotic mushroom. Blacken Garlic. Blueberry infused kefir milk/yogurt/icecream.
 
pollinator
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Thinking about what kind of life you want to live is a critical first step.  Your plans will flow from that, including how much land you'll need to sustain it.

Are you thinking of establishing an old-school homestead with a bunch of chickens (meat and layers), some ducks or geese, a couple of pigs, a milk cow, and a couple of steers for beef?  Do you want to grow your own grain crops?  In Europe, you'll need to put up hay for the winter if you are keeping cattle.  If so, grazing and haying land becomes something of a priority, as well as the ability to raise some additional grain to feed your animals.  Joel Salatin has shown what can be done with limited land and intensively managed grazing systems.  He calls himself a grass farmer.  You can certainly integrate trees/nuts/fruits into such a system (as the Mark Shepherd video posted above shows), but its more work.  I'd start with grass first, and then move toward trees.

If I were to take a stab at your question, I'd say that 40 acres would be enough to do well.  Perhaps that's even enough to thrive if the land is fertile and productive and you have good rainfall.  If the land isn't good, it'll take you 5 years or more to build the soil and get it to produce enough grass to sustain a relatively modest herd of grazers. 

If you and your wife have a side job (which most people have -- even full-time farmers), then as little as 2 acres are enough to produce much of the food your family will need.  I work full-time, as does my wife, and we only have a third of an acre in the middle of Los Angeles county, but we are able to produce most of veggies, all of our fruit, and more eggs and honey than we know what to do with.  But life is expensive and I enjoy driving a new car every 10 years or so.  Healthcare, the little comforts of life, tools, toys . . . these things cost money, as does the upkeep and maintanance of a home. 

Perhaps the goal is not radical self-reliance and completely unplugging from the screwed up society we live in, but rather, making meaningful changes to your lifestyle and putting yourself on a path toward GREATER independence and health.  Every year, living a bit better.  Every year, learning new skills and knowledge.  Every year eating better.  Every year, a bit more self-reliant.  Every year, a bit more resilient. 

Best of luck.
 
Posts: 153
Location: Huntsville Alabama (North Alabama)
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Mike.  How about a co-housing concept? I think this is getting ground in Europe. I myself would like to find a small group of people interested in self-sustainability and also have lasting relationships with neighbors.  The houses would be located very close together and placed where adjoining land would be done in a permaculture way.  Underground houses interest me here since I hate the big boxes we live in.  The people would all have a mix of different income levels, skill types and ages.  All working together on weekends and going to work in the city during the week.
 
Posts: 353
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I'd suggest you consider finding a place in commuting distance to your current location. Give yourself the option of staying in your current occupation and over time shift your direction where you'd like. It's hard for me to decide whether this is possible as I don't even know where you are and don't know Europe very well.

I bought 40 acres of land very close to Pittsburgh Pa in the USA. There was a house and no other buildings. The house was in extremely poor condition, I didn't buy it, however, for the house. In my offer I allowed no value for the house. I made some improvements to the house and moved in. The seller couldn't believe I planned on living there, just to give you an idea. The sellers father built the house and the story I heard was that his wife wouldn't live there two days a week, when the house was new.

My main reason for relating this is that it's possible to find property close to where you are now, affordably, if it has problems. There were two problems with that property, the house and the properties record in its primary purpose: subdivision. A builder had submitted a subdivision proposal which had been rejected. The reason for the rejection, I guessed, was that the government wanted to move the road not long before that and the owners rejected any encroachment onto their property.

If you buy near where you are now you'd likely spend more money and have higher taxes than in a remote location, but that is offset by your keeping your present income/s, and in the future you'd be closer to larger markets.You have to consider not only how much land you need but what's on that property. A wooded steep property requires more land than open pastures.

it's obviously easier to change the use of open or pasture land for your needs. I wouldn't recommend you plan to clear woodland for agricultural purposes. It's cheaper to buy land than to clear it. The only clearing I did was to cut crab apples from under the larger more desirable trees in those woods. And I spent years doing that. If you must clear trees I'd recommend you use a land clearing company who clears land for sub-dividers. It's cheaper because they have the equipment to cut trees of any size and clear the stumps, also of any size. At least get an estimate from them.

I'd also suggest you consider how much land you need for your own, and your families, purposes. You need some land to spread out on, to relax on, to use for recreation. You might want a small herb garden near the kitchen, but do you want a large garden there. If you want to keep animals I'd suggest listening to the higher estimates of how much land it takes to raise a cow, pigs or possibly horses. I raised a cow and a bull and then their calf. I would never recommend doing that unless your raising the hay, the straw and the grains you need to feed them. From my experience it's cheaper to buy meat than to buy what you need to feed them. I'd suggest you be actively growing these things before you buy the animals. I would recommend you consider more meat for protein than nuts.

If you buy land close to a city you'll have to deal with zoning or however land control is called in your country. In my case there were no restrictions on using residential land for farming uses. But because of my experience my local municipality changed the laws to prevent any agricultural uses, including in my opinion growing Christmas trees. A use that one would not be considered offensive to neighbors. If you slowly over some years begin your future uses then you've created a situation where you've established use which may be important when tax or prior use is important. In my case I was grandfathered in to uses that others were blocked from.

I wish you luck in whatever endeavors you undertake.


 
pioneer
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I'd second the recommendation to check out sepp holzer.  His project in Austria could be worth a visit.  If that's close enough to you. 

If your main goal is supporting your family, I don't think you need all that much land.  Maybe 2-3 acres to be comfortable.  One acre would be snug but possible.  Getting out of the bullshit job and making money off the property is a whole different set of needs.  If you're raising animals with 4 feet, it's also a different set of needs. 

Since your original question was about nuts, I'm assuming you're more plant based than meat based.  A 1/4 acre garden should be plenty, leaving lots of room for nuts.  Hazelnut shrubs in my area are reasonably sized (4m high and wide) so you can fit a bunch in a row 8m by 40m.
 
Tyler Ludens
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John Duda wrote:You might want a small herb garden near the kitchen, but do you want a large garden there.



Personally I love having my food gardens right around the house.  It made all the difference when I moved the kitchen garden (main food garden) to right near the kitchen door.  Zone 1. 

 
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