Self Sufficiency: Unpeeling the Myth, Embracing Homesteading

| 3/20/2018 10:07:00 AM

Tags: small acreage, self sufficiency, Wisconsin, Laura Berlage,

our homestead in winter

It’s always a treasure to hear from readers, including those with questions.  This week, I received an inquiry from an area student (I’ll refer to him as John), who is a sixth grader working on a research project.  My sister Kara was in 6th grade when we moved up full-time to revitalize the old homestead, and many of our initial projects were sparked by research endeavors.

John had an interesting question for me: 

“My ILP [independent learning project] is on homesteading. The question I am trying to answer is, ‘Can I become self sufficient on 1 and a half acres of land?’  Some of the things I have learned about is how to start homesteading.  I am looking to talk to someone and learn more about homesteading.”

I thought on this for a couple of days, realizing there were really two questions within the letter.  Assuming that John lives on 1.5 acres of land currently, here are some thoughtful considerations.  Maybe you have a little bit of acreage too and can pick up some tips.

The short answer to “Can I become self-sufficient on 1.5 acres of land?” would be no.  But let’s unpack that a bit.  Self-sufficiency is part of the pioneer legend, where you strike out and do it all for yourself.  It sounds so brave and adventuresome and very American.  But, alas, being fully self-sufficient (and its conceptual entanglement with the word sustainable) is a myth.  Here’s a few reasons why.

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