First and foremost, as already mentioned one does not need a huge piece of land to become self-sufficient. So how small is small? Well, one can actually become self-sufficient quite happily on one acreof land. One acre of land can be used for small scale farming on mini-farms quite happily leading to self-sufficiency. However, because it is possible to practise self-sufficiency on mini farms, land management then becomes crucial. This then becomes the most important principle for sustainable farming and creating your mini farm.
The clue, of course, is in the very word itself sustainable meaning to keep something going. If the land that you use to farm is mismanaged, you will never be able to sustain any crops or animals at an acceptable level of productivity. That includes both large scale and small scale farming. Mismanagement will give you the same result. What you will end up with will be both diseased and ill plants and animals and your hopes of self-sufficiency will be unfulfilled.
In owning a micro farm or small scale farm, there has to be a balance between the animals and the plants because ideally you want to create a food chain where each feed each other. You need the manure from the farm animals to enrich the soil so that the soil can then produce good crops, and which in turn, will go back to feeding the animals.
With small scale farming on mini-farms for sustainability there needs to be crop rotation. One cannot grow crops on the same piece of land year after year. Crops gown like this soon weaken to disease. However, the problem does not remain here, what happens is that the disease organisms that attack that plant multiply to such an extent that eventually the disease becomes uncontrollable. So plan your small farm with care, and make sure that some portion of the land is always kept fallow so that you can implement your crop rotation plan.
If you are small scale farming with animals you can put them to good use by allowing them to manure your crops in a controlled way. Animals need feeding so why not allow them into your crops but have them within an enclosed area? That way they are being fed, and at the same time fertilizing the land at the same time. Keeping chickensworks very well. Not only do they fertilize the soil, but they also eat the insects that may be destroying your crops.
Look at the land resources that you have for small scale farming and see how you can improve or utilize them. Do you have enough water on the property? If not, should you build a dam and if so, where would be the best place to put it? Irrigation is important and you cannot rely on the weather these days. Look too at where your prevailing winds are coming from and plant trees here to create a protective barrier for your crops. Replanting hedgerows is a must for those of you who are interested in organic farming and preserving nature.
Many overzealous farmers ripped out kilometers of natural hedgerows in the 80s and 90s in England. After such a thoughtless decision of the consequences, what they subsequently discovered that hedgerows have many benefits. Not only have they helped stabilize the soil and prevent soil-erosion, they are also a benefit to controlling insects and pests.
These hedges are a natural habitat for many of England’s birds, insects and mammals and which had created the very eco-system that had silently been highly beneficial to farmers who had had them. Many of the birds, for example, had fed on the very insects that, after the hedgerow destruction, were spreading in large numbers, as the birds were no longer there to keep them in control.
As a result many farmers have now reverted to replanting the hedges. The inclusion of this example illustrates that as custodians of our planet, as farmers, we should take grave deliberation of any changes we make to the land and ask ourselves whether what we have planed to do will be harmful in any way. We should be encouraging the right types of animals and insects to your garden.