The amount of land needed to homestead is something that every aspiring homesteader should ask before diving in and buying a piece of property. Approaching this topic with the right planning and goals will ensure that the property meets your needs for the long term. How much land is necessary for a homestead, and how do you identify the right size property?
Depending on your homesteading goals and needs, you can homestead on land between 1.5 acres and 200 acres. Intensive farming on a small homestead can feed your family, but more land is required to be truly self-sufficient. A 15-acre homestead is the ideal homestead size for a suitable balance.
Homesteading is a family activity that requires planning and analyzing every aspect of the endeavor to ensure your homestead will meet your requirement for years to come. Selecting the right size land is one of the foundational elements of homesteading that you need to get right in the early stages of your planning.
How Much Land Is Needed For A Homestead?
Choosing the right amount of land for your homesteading lifestyle is a key element that requires some clarity on what your goals and expectations are from the homesteading life.
This aspect makes a choice very personal for each family, and very difficult to come up with a magic formula that spits out the right amount of land you need for homesteading.
Essentially, each homesteader’s needs will drive the size of the land they must purchase to support their family. Every homesteader has different needs and goals, and the size of the property needed is closely related to these needs.
As a result, you must have a clear idea in mind of what you want your homestead to provide for you and your family, which requires taking a close look at your homesteading aspirations.
Some of the considerations you need to have in mind when planning the size of your homestead should include the following.
- Will you be feeding your own family only? Will you be producing enough food on the homestead to only feed your family?
- Will your homestead be a business? Are you expecting your homestead to generate a profit to pay the bills and give you an income? Growing more for an income above your family’s needs requires more space.
- What growing method will you use? The food growing method influences the space needed to feed each person in your family.
- Will you keep livestock? Will you only grow vegetables to contribute to feeding the family, or do you intend to keep livestock to provide meat? Livestock needs more space than planting vegetables.
- What is your budget for homesteading land? Do you want to start small and expand later as your finances allow? This requires planning to buy larger surrounding land in the future to expand your homestead.
How Much Land Do You Need For Small-Scale Homesteading?
Small scale in homesteading terms is relative because you can homestead and grow your own food on your apartment balcony if you apply the right methods.
We will be taking the approach of providing enough food for a family of 4 people and base our predictions on this family dynamic.
You can practice homesteading in a suburban garden with as little as a 20-foot by 40-foot or 6-meter by 12-meter space in your garden. This space will allow you to feed a family of 4 people all year round by practicing square-foot gardening.
Square foot gardening is a vegetable growing principle that uses intelligent planning in 4-foot by 4-foot raised bed gardens to grow a lot of food in a small space.
Although this amount of space will allow you to grow vegetables for your family, most homesteaders prefer to have more options available for a wider variety of homesteading activities.
Typically a small-scale or mini-homestead is considered to be between 1.5 acres and 5 acres of land. This space will allow you to grow more than enough vegetables for your family and keep some limited livestock that doesn’t require much space.
The livestock you would be able to keep in this space would include chickens and other poultry or rabbits in an enclosure.
A homestead of 1.5 to 2 acres gives you the space to grow vegetables and plant fruit, nut trees, and shrubs that produce edible berries.
A homestead of between 3 and 5 acres would be the preferred size to keep limited livestock to provide your own eggs and meat.
Can You Homestead On 6 to 10 Acres?
A homestead of between 6 to 10 acres of land is considered by most to be a small homestead. For many homesteaders, this size property is sufficient to meet all their family’s needs, with some space for the homestead to start producing an income.
Your options are greatly expanded, with a homestead of between 6 and 10 acres. You could keep your vegetable growing operation small and use the additional space to increase your livestock diversity.
You can successfully keep some sheep or goats and poultry livestock on a small homestead of this size.
Another option would be to expand your vegetable growing operation into selling the excess to local markets. This choice would be worthwhile if you have customers in your area that would be interested in your fresh-grown products.
Hotels, restaurants, resorts, and other vacation destinations are ideal candidates for buying your fresh herbs and vegetables.
Many homesteaders like the idea of going completely off-grid; if you entertain this idea, you will need a source of fuel on your property.
A homestead of a minimum of 10 acres is needed, with a large section covered with trees suitable for providing fuel for your homestead. This resource can be managed to provide enough fuel to keep your family warm and provide fuel for cooking and heating water.
Is 30 Acres Enough For Homesteading?
A medium-sized homestead is considered to be between 10 and 30 acres and allows greater diversity and profit generation, but there is a trade-off.
The extra space of a medium-sized homestead may sound like a dream come true, but it comes with a change in logistical needs to run the property.
At this homestead size, 10 to 30 acres gives you space to grow more food for yourself and your animals and keep more livestock.
If you are looking for a good-sized medium homestead, I recommend 15 acres as the best option. You will have enough space to keep animals, grow your own food and food for the animals, and have enough excess to generate a good profit.
A homestead of between 15 and 30 acres becomes more time-consuming to manage and will likely be a full-time job. This may be great if this is your intention, but if you are still working a conventional day job, the larger property may be too much to manage with your limited time.
The homesteading costs increase with a larger property because you need to mechanize to get the most from your property. Planting and harvesting 5 acres of lucern to feed your cows over the winter will be difficult to do without mechanization.
The more machinery you need to run the homestead, the more expense there is to purchase and maintain the equipment.
Larger land space gives you more scope for larger livestock, which can increase the revenue for the homestead. Larger livestock is generally a long-term homesteading commitment, with the returns taking longer than on smaller livestock.
Can You Homestead On 200 Acres?
A homestead of between 30 and 200 acres is generally considered to be a larger homestead. Any piece of ground beyond 200 acres is getting into small farm size territory rather than homesteading.
Large amounts of land may seem like a good idea, but how much land can one person manage and work comfortably, especially as you age and become less mobile and able?
Homesteading on a large property requires a long-term plan that involves your children’s future and the future generations in your family.
If your children are not into the homesteading lifestyle, they may not be interested in helping out with gardening and looking after animals. Family dynamics change as your children grow up and pursue their own paths.
On a large homestead, you may need to mechanize to a greater degree or hire outside help to run the homestead. From my perspective, once you need to hire people to help run your homestead, you are no longer self-sufficient since you cannot run the homestead without outside help.
A Self-Sufficient Homestead Needs More Space
A self-sufficient homestead requires more space because you need livestock and space to grow food for all your livestock needs and those of your family.
To be truly self-sufficient, you need a permanent water source on the property or water gathering and storage equipment. You also need space to grow feed for all your livestock and space to grow food for your family.
Solar solutions or wood for fuel to power your homestead are other considerations for self-sufficiency. The minimum starting point for space for a self-sufficient homestead is 1 acre per person on the homestead.
What Is The Ideal Size Homestead?
My biggest concern on a small homestead, and one that bears consideration for all homesteaders, is the potential for crop failure. If you are only growing enough for your own family and you have a disastrous growing season, you could be in difficulties.
An outbreak of pests, a bad batch of seeds, or animals getting into your garden and damaging some of your food are all very real possibilities.
More land allows you some breathing space to grow more than you need, so if you have some losses or some crops that don’t work out, you don’t have a total loss.
Depending on their goals, each person will have their own ideal-sized homestead, but I recommend a 15-acre homestead as the ideal starting point. You don’t have to utilize all the land at once, but it gives you space to expand as your needs change and as your homestead operation grows.
A homestead of 15 acres is also manageable by one or two people without the need to hire outside help and no need for a large amount of mechanization on the property.
The best-sized homestead for you is a very personal decision and will depend on your personal needs and reasons for entertaining homesteading as a lifestyle choice.
When choosing your homestead size, the main consideration is to make the decision according to a plan rather than a guess. Analyze your homesteading needs and what you want from your homestead and base your decision on this information.