Estimating How Much of Your Food You Are Growing

solarnoon.aspen Posts: 219 ✭✭✭

I find it really hard to estimate how much of our food we produce on our small farm. We grow most of our protein - animals and beans. Our gardens supply almost all of our vegetables and berries. We have old orchard apple trees. We trade eggs for nuts, some fruits and cash.

We work hard every day from March to October to get three freezers full and many canned jars and dried herbs and fruit for the months ahead. I like to say this is how I 'make my living' now.

But, we buy dairy, sugar, salt, chocolate, tea, grain, hay, straw, animal feed, fish and some fruits in season.

So, when a person says they produce 50 or more%, are they taking all this into account?

If it came to desperate times, we could totally survive on what we grow because we would just not have some of the things we usually purchase. Last spring, when Covid arrived, we had no worries and didn't leave the property for a long time. I think what would be difficult are the factors of animal feed and if climate change takes us for a loop, leaving us unable to fully garden!

How do You determine how much of your food you grow?


  • JodieDownUnder
    JodieDownUnder Posts: 1,482 admin

    Wow @solarnoon.aspen you do a great job with your self sufficiency and that's to be very much admired. It's hard to know what to include. I made a deal with myself to start simple. Try to eat something that you've grown once every day. Now thats taken off as our garden has expanded and friendships grown. We eat as seasonally as we can. We help a friend harvest her garlic and tumeric, in return we get as much as we need. An apiarist keeps his bees on our place, we get honey in return. We try and keep a low footprint and be as natural where and when we can. We live off grid, so large freezer space is not possible. But now I believe we grow/produce/barter at least 50% of what we consume and the rest we try to buy local and organic. If everyone did as you do, the world would be a better place. Long live sustainability!

  • solarnoon.aspen
    solarnoon.aspen Posts: 219 ✭✭✭
    edited September 2020


    Yes, it is very interesting looking for ways to live like this without anyone feeling 'deprived'. Well. at first that might have been an issue, but now it just seems logical and ordinary to forage, trade, grow enough for ourselves and give away and to not buy any 'junk.'

    The thing is many people ask how much of our food do we grow? And it is complex because there is embedded energy and contributing backstory to every product that we require to grow what we grow: seeds (if not saved), amendments (fish fertiliser, bone meal, etc - even straw for mulch), grains for chickens, pellets for rabbits. Each one of these inputs as it contributes to our growing, is necessary for the success of the whole project. So when someone asks me that, even though we do grow a large percentage of our food, I feel many others have grown it too.

    BTW, we are also off grid, however, we do have backup if the sun doesn't provide. We were able to find a number of extremely conserving, low energy freezers, fridge and light bulbs. So, we do have a lot of freezer space, however, drying is a real creative act. We absolutely cannot dry using dehydrators. Heat sucks up energy. So our drying is relegated to solar, whether it's in the car with the window cracked a bit or trading with a neighbour for time in her dehydrator. I have ambitions to build a little shed-like dehydrator that I saw on (

  • Gil Montano
    Gil Montano Posts: 39 ✭✭✭

    Sustainable food provides a number of benefits to humans, the environment, and life as a whole. In a more specific context, it improves the important aspects of life, such as the economy, health, ecology, and survival. In these unstable times with a real food shortage is on the horizon, knowing how to grow and raise your own food is more important than ever! 

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,535 ✭✭✭✭✭

    For food. I look at what I used to buy or still do and try to grow or save that. I love to barter so grwoing some fruits and vegetables or protein and look for neighbors to swap items I do not grow or make.

    I make crafts or items from the land. Willow, baskets, weavings, wood products and recently rustic furniture ( I still need practice with that) I Trade for more flour or other items I need

    I am just starting to grow my own chicken and goat food. Its still a learning process but fun

    I grow all 4 seasons, challenging in zone 5B. In tehr summer I grow 80% of my food, in winter about 30% but I use a lot of salads and greens. That's just what I grow and not what I put away. Its about 70% with canned or dried food. I have chickens, rabbits, ducks, gaots and a pig or two for meat. I use the animals more for compost and grazing than eating.

    I still have a long way to go but each season I see changes

  • solarnoon.aspen
    solarnoon.aspen Posts: 219 ✭✭✭

    Denise Grant

    That's amazing that you grow and put away so much!

    Do you see that with each new element you add, that the whole system of your food supply benefits from more than just the thing, but also how it interacts with the other elements? ie we also saw a HUGE change the year we introduced rabbits because of how they provided, besides meat and fur, so much quality fertilizer. Even though we had plenty of chicken poop and busyness.

    It's clear that growing food is not a simple linear activity. It depends on so many systems to be in place and to interact for it to succeed.

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,535 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @solarnoon.aspen Yes, everything does interact and makes a system complete. Its fun to watch all ther interactins, p-articularly ther ones you did not expect.

    I have 6 kinds of manure and each one I like for a different reason. My friends laugh at me but thats ok - they are alwasy standing in line for some kind of poo!

    I actually sell some of my rabbit poo for a compost tea mix of indooor plants and transplanting.

  • John
    John Posts: 163 ✭✭✭

    I found this a most interesting, entertaining and education article with excellent posts-well done everyone!

  • solarnoon.aspen
    solarnoon.aspen Posts: 219 ✭✭✭

    Denise Grant

    I've been wanting to try to sell my overabundance of rabbit poo and urine. I saw a video about fermenting the urine to make it even more useable as a fertilizer, since it is so strong. But haven't found a great way to do it yet.

    I do know about making tea infusions. I 'm looking for ways so sell the stuff. I'd be interested in any ideas you may have.

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,535 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @solarnoon.aspen I have not seen information on using urine but it makes sense. Do you have a link I could look at?

    I package up poo by the cup for one brew or up to a few pounds for numerous brews. I try to make sure its dry so if I ship it it cost less. You can include a bag for brewing if you want or suggestions for what to use. This is for my compost tea.

    I have people who want to buy it by a 5 pound bucket to use for small garden areas or a hardy supply of compost tea.

    I sell on my local homesteading sites or when I do classses. I oftem sell plants in the spring and get customers form that too. Its just talking about my love of growing and sharing ideas that help me sell

  • solarnoon.aspen
    solarnoon.aspen Posts: 219 ✭✭✭

    Denise Grant

    HOw much water do you add to the cup of dry poo?

    Glad you are able to generate some income from the farm :)

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,535 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @solarnoon.aspen I make a compost tea out of this and use one cup to 5 gallons of water. I put it in a big and hang it much like you would a tea bag . A 24 hour soaking makes a great tea.

    I usually use 5 gallons at a time but if you want leass just divide it and add water accordingly.

    When I am done with the bag I remove the leftover poo (after its dried) and throw it in the compost pile

    I sell my worm casting from my worm farm too.

    Its taken a bit to figure out how to make a l;ittelr money off most of my home projects bu tits coming together