View Full Version : What is the minimum amount of land one needs for survival?
08-16-2002, 03:16 PM
In my incessant quest for self determination I have a mythical island "nation" where I live with the closest of my friends. Assuming we are a vegan nation, what is the absolute minimum land we would need to maintain our autonomy without having to import other crops? I am thinking 5 acres would be more than enough if the resources could recycle (like 2 acres worth of orchards, 2 acres of grain type crops, and 1 acre to lie fallow).
Would that be enough to support one person?
08-16-2002, 03:29 PM
This (http://www.earthday.net/footprint/info.asp) may help.
08-16-2002, 03:31 PM
Don't forget firewood. Flax for clothes. Sunflower and corn for oils.
In the Oklahoma land rush, each homestead was allocated 160 acres.
08-16-2002, 03:46 PM
I once read, sorry no cite, that it takes 10 acres of forest to provide a sustainable supply of firewood for a small family. I'd guess that includes heat, cooking and heating water.
08-16-2002, 03:46 PM
Hmm. I don't get how that link helps, Earthling. Perhaps you can find something with a less dynamic link rather than one with an asp/php extension.
I didn't think about clothing or firewood. I suppose my "island" would have had a non-erupting volcano with a very steady churning of magma in it for all my cooking/heating needs. It would have to stay non-erupting because I wouldn't want my new habitat to be blown to smithereens.
When thinking about firewood and other needs like that what other options are there? A very quick growing option that could also produce a crop to use may be an idea. Would coconut trees suffice or do they not quite renew quickly enough. Or would it have to be more like 100 acres of it in order not to use up all of that resource?
If animals were somehow put into the equation, would this drastically change the output? A land of roaming wild chickens would be kinda neat. I can hear that Ralphie head voice from A Christmas Story shouting at me, "they'll pluck your eyes out! they'll pluck your eyes out!"
08-16-2002, 03:49 PM
Oh GaryM posted while I was typing. 10 Acres, that isn't too bad. As for the clothing issue we would of course be nudists. Well, in theory anyway.
08-16-2002, 04:23 PM
Originally posted by dorkusmalorkusmafia
Hmm. I don't get how that link helps, Earthling. Perhaps you can find something with a less dynamic link rather than one with an asp/php extension.Low bandwidth version (http://www.earthday.net/Footprint/lowband/). Select your language & country, then answer its questions. One reason that you need to input your country is because the quiz makes certain assumptions about your lifestyle based on where you live -- as you would, too, in saying that you can be a nudist (i.e., that rules out living in a cold climate). Just for grins, I plugged in an Indian who travels only on foot and eats no meat, and the answer is 0.5 hectares (1.2 acres).
08-16-2002, 04:29 PM
As for the clothing issue we would of course be nudists. Well, in theory anyway.You're going to need either sunscreen or a heck of a lot of melanin in your skin.
And the amount of land per person will depend on how many people you have. You don't need much more firewood to cook for ten folks than for one, for instance.
08-16-2002, 04:38 PM
The minimum land area one needs for survival is less than 6 acres. (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=122506&highlight=Acres)
08-16-2002, 04:58 PM
Include the sea (Fish) and you can cut that down a lot further
08-16-2002, 05:05 PM
Squink, that does not answer the question. That says basically how much land each individual occupies. The spirit of the question on the other hand was how little land could be liveable and self sustaining.
Earthling, that is an interesting link, but I don't really know how that answers my question either. I went through the questionaire as a fairly wasteful (in my opinion) American and came up with 1.7 acres.
The 10 acres of woodland as a renewable resource is good information on the other hand. If you can double up production (ie, get out the coconuts and/or other perishables) from the area it could actually limit it down some too. I am thinking it is probably roughly 20 acres of land now. 10 acres for heating and some food, other acreage for crops and housing.
Anyone live on a farm that doesn't buy any outside fruits or vegetables? How much land do you use?
08-16-2002, 06:27 PM
Originally posted by dorkusmalorkusmafia
Earthling, that is an interesting link, but I don't really know how that answers my question either. I went through the questionaire as a fairly wasteful (in my opinion) American and came up with 1.7 acres.Something does not compute here. With my theoretical wasteful American, I get 40 acres. Plug my numbers in below* and see what you get. Sorry if this sounds like I'm flogging that web site, but I thought it was a pretty good demonstration of the different factors you have to consider and assumptions you have to make when you try to figure out just how many resources are needed to support your own life, which you may or may not have already taken into account.
Anyway, if you want to know "how little land could be liveable and self sustaining," you might want to do a search on Biosphere (http://www.google.com/search?q=biosphere).
* Male, age 21-35, living in large city (> 1 million pop.) in the middle of the country (St. Louis). Eats meat often, with about half of the food being processed/packaged, and generating about equal amount of trash as his neighbors. Living with one other person in a 1900-2500 ft2 detached house. Drives 200-300 miles/week, takes no public transportation, and flies 10 hours per year. Car gets 15-25 mpg, and he does not carpool.
I'd also recommend leafing through some back issues of Mother Earth News magazine. It's a slick number now, of much higher-tech audience than when it first started, but it's still got some good stuff in it.
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