Sub Acre Agriculture is the attempt to ek out substantial amounts of food production from small allotments of land. It could certainly be argued that this is nothing but gardening, but Agriculture adds a degree of intent by focusing energy on rotations, cover cropping, livestock integration, nutrient cycling, or perrenial and “woody” crops. Sub Acre Ag seeks to take these learnings from the past several decades of Organic Farming, and incorporate that into small plots of land-as little as 3-400 sq ft.
Why bother? As we enter a century of Energy and Resource Decline coupled with rising global populations and consumption we will face the stark reality of there not being enough food produced in the current paradigm to meet the needs of the planet.
My goal (stated in detail in HOA Meets CSA) is to grow 2000lbs/yr. of food in the backyard of my suburban home.
Let’s put that in perspective. I live in a Home Owner’s Association of 50 homes. If all my neighbors copied and improved on my learning’s our neighborhood would produce 100,000 lbs of food-enough to fill 2 semi trailers. My small village has 500 homes-if we all practiced Sub Acre Ag it would be 1,000,000 lbs of food. That Super Wal-Mart looks alot less attractive if there is 1,000,000 lbs of food at each little village’s farmer’s market.
We can do this. Most techniques that I will be detailing on this site are tried and true, we are just applying them on a smaller scale. Others, like Permaculture Food Forests, are more cutting edge, but if we can make them work, they have unbelievable potential to sustainably support our communities for futuregenerations.
I apologize for the lack of pictures of our system. A poorly timed hard drvie crash (OK when is it a good time?) gutted our photo library-we are lazy about backing up. To the uninitiated, it looks like 7 traditional raised beds, with a whole lot of smalls trees and perrenials near by. Over all the effect is becoming rather beautiful-in both function and form.
Here are some of the techniques that I am using on our property:
Permaculture Guilds: A Primer
“Guilds” are dense perennials plantings designed intentional to mimic natural plant groupings in nature to maximize yield in a mutually supporting community that is very frugal with space and is net positive w/fertility. Fascinating!
Sheet Mulching is often reffered to as composting in place, which is an accurate description of the process. Essentially one creates a 12″ thick layer of organic matter in such a way so as to eliminate any existing vegetaion while leaving the soil ecosystem in place. One of the very best low input and carbon nuetral ways to convert lawn to garden.
Tools of the Trade
Good tools make work easier and more enjoyable. These tools are forged by crasftman, hold an edge, and are built to last. I fully expect my children to use them in their own gardens in 30 years, which certainly cannot be said of the tools you find in the Big Box stores these days.
This is it! Includes files for the proposed layout of the gardens along with my goals and dreams for the beds. This is a scale-able design that can be shrunk down to fit in a backyard or expanded to fit 5 acres. Main focus is on optimising the soil fertility for true sustainability rather than maximizing yields in any one year and on minimizing inputs through integrated fertility growth and pest prevention/control. Lofty and full of hubris, but very exciting!
This page includes a link to a spreadsheet detailing the proposed rotation for the .1 Acre Market Garden Project. This is currently untested, and will be updated as it is field tested.
Animal Manures are the best way to increase fertility on denuded soil. Animal Tractors allow you to reduce labor inputs by pushing some of the work on the animals by letting them do what they want to do anyhow (eat, scratch, poop) while reaping the added “surpluses” of eggs, fiber, or meat.
Stay tuned for more pages on Sub Acre Ag!