Thoughts on an Eight Acre Vermont Farm

He though he wanted something more than ten times as large, but a Vermont farm of eight acres turned out to be the right size.

| September/October 1974

When I first came to this land (Vermont), I thought I needed 100 acres and that I'd like to put a house right in the middle of it. The grim realities of economics, of course, dictated that I would have had to work at the yetch office job I then had for about 20 years in order to amass the capital to buy a chunk of land that size ... to say nothing of paying the taxes on the property or financing the construction of a house.

Now when I wanted that 100 acres, I had no idea what an acre was. I thought that a family vegetable garden needed to cover at least one acre. But I know better now, and I know better on more than just purely economic grounds.

Back when I had my heart set on a hundred acres, I never stopped to ask myself, "A hundred acres of what? What will I do with it?" I have since lived for a time on 100 acres of scrub second growth that was mostly useless. Even getting a kitchen garden out of it was a backbreaker.

Now I live on eight acres. An eight acre Vermont farm. It is a much more reasonable piece of property for a "homestead" than the 100 acres I once thought I wanted. Eight acres is large enough for an economically viable vegetable farm, or at least so report travelers from the mountainous regions of Europe.

Our property has that ever-important southern exposure and deep loam (at least it's deep by New England standards). It has some scrub pine on it, the result of 20 years of non-use.

Eight acres, we have found, is a controllable amount of land, small enough to keep taxes and mortgage down to a manageable level. And an hour a day with bow saw and axe will take all that scrub pine out by 1975.

Aibreán Ó Gréacháin Pankratz
2/28/2013 10:17:44 PM

hard to be 100% self reliant on a mere 8 acres... we as a family of six (four adults and two children) really do need no less that 40 acres...

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