Today, we're going to talk about backyard farming and how it can help all of us answer a growing food crisis. My guest is Angela England, the author of the new book, Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less).
Angela's book is a fantastic resource for beginners and advanced homesteaders. There's something for everyone. She's thorough in covering everything about homesteading in small spaces — from planning your farming to gardening to raising animals to what to do with the food once you've got it. I especially like that her advice isn't mainstream. Instead of giving you the normal breeds of chickens, she talks about heritage breeds that are better foragers and dual-purpose (meat and eggs). This is really smart and gives you more flexible and potentially more successful options.
What's In The Book?
You can transform your yard into a sustainable bounty of healthy food.
It doesn’t take a lot of space to reap a bountiful harvest of nutritious, affordable food. With proper planning, you can grow your own fresh vegetables and fruit; raise chickens and goats for eggs, milk, or meat; and keep bees for honey—on as little as a quarter-acre of land.
Whether your goal is to eat healthier, save money, live more sustainably, or a combination of these, Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) helps you get there. Comprehensive and detailed, it covers everything you need to know to plan, purchase, plant, raise, harvest, preserve, and enjoy your own backyard farm. Written by someone who has done exactly that, this helpful guide is packed with information, illustrations, instructions, advice, and resources. In it, you get:
- Down-to-earth advice on acquiring land or using the space you have, plus considerations such as water access and zoning restrictions.
- A useful primer on garden planning, including edible landscaping and container, raised bed, and vertical gardening.
- Key information on the tools and knowledge you need to prepare your soil and plant, nurture, and protect your garden.
- Tips on maximizing your harvest through crop rotation and succession and extending the growing season.
- Details on cultivating dozens of vegetables, herbs, fruits, and other popular crops.
- Startup instructions on buying and raising chickens and other poultry for eggs or meat; goats and sheep for milk, meat, or fiber; and rabbits for fiber or meat.
- The essentials of animal care, including housing, signs and prevention of illness, breeding, milking, and shearing.
- A year-round guide to beekeeping, with tips for acquiring a hive, keeping healthy bees, and harvesting the honey.
- Comprehensive coverage of home preserving techniques for every type of food you grow or raise.
Angela England is a freelance writer who, along with her husband and four children, cultivates a 1/2-acre farm in their backyard, where they raise dairy and meat goats, keep free-range chickens, and maintain a productive garden of fruits and vegetables. They started with a small garden and took on chickens, goats, bees, and fruit trees over time, eventually managing a larger plot while shedding the conveniences of urban life. Angela is the Founder of Untrained Housewife (untrainedhousewife.com), which guides others in the arts of rural living. She also manages and maintains the Blissfully Domestic web community and contributes to other sites and forums.
In This Episode
In this podcast, here are some of the questions I asked Angela (take a listen to see what she said):
At the beginning of the book, you mention the growing food crisis and how backyard farming can be an answer to that. Please fill us in — a nutshell view — of the crisis and how backyard farming answers this.
You mention that year by year, you're growing more and more for yourself… At this point, how much do you grow for yourself?
Once we married and had children we began to seek a lifestyle that was more and more independent and in balance with God’s design. Each year we’ve taken bigger steps down the path of self-sufficiency. Beginning with a small home just inside city limits, with less than a half-acre plot, we’ve found ways to increase the amount of food we produce for ourselves each year. We started with a simple garden and each year have added more elements to our backyard farm.
Can you give us the rundown of what small-space techniques do for the backyard farmer and some examples of what can be done?
Are there any insurmountable hurdles with land or locale (meaning certain areas where you're going to have an uphill battle no matter what you do)?
Can someone feed all their animals on what they're raising on an acre or less?
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- Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) on Amazon
- Backyard Farming Website — backyardfarmingguide.coms)
- Untrained Housewife — Angela's blog
I've been going through the materials for the Food Storage thank-you video, and I while I have a decent estimation of the amount of other food items we will need, I am a little lost when it comes to sugar. Because I am more spontaneous in my cooking abd baking, I'm not really sure how much sugar we go through in a given month (though I'm guessing 2 to 3 pounds). Do you have any references for about how much should be stored? I've found a few suggestions on LDS storage pamphlets, but they suggested much more sugar than I think would be necessary.
You'll find my full answer in this episode! My short answer is that I found sugar recommendations too high. Personally I think sugar use among traditional foodies varies a lot and the best way to know for sure is to track your use for a few weeks to a few months. We use 6 cups per week of evaporated cane juice for Kombucha. That's a little over 3 pounds per week, and about fifteen pounds per month. For baking, desserts, and tea, we use 1-1/4 gallons of honey per month. Those are the numbers I use to plan how much to store. I try to get a little cushion, too. Thanks for the question!
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What's Coming Up…
Next week I'm taking listener questions on the topic of dehydrating. Submit your questions using the instructions above.
For past or current episodes, check out the Know Your Food with Wardee podcast archives.
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It's Your Turn
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