How to be Self-sufficient on 5 Acres

Self-sufficiency is a dream for many people now. Living off your farm and producing enough food to feed you and your family can help you save a lot of money.

Self-sufficiency can mean living off-grid and producing your own power, growing all your own food, and being able to make your own supplies such as tools and clothes. Ideally, self-sufficiency should be about food production and the ability to produce your own electricity, and collect, store and recycle water and waste. 

advantages and disadvantages of permaculture

The size of land you need to be self-sufficient is dependent on the climate of where you live, the amount of rainfall, the quality of soil on your land, the exposure of your property to sunlight, your lifestyle and diet, and the type of food you intend to grow and animals you want to keep.

You can be self-sufficient on ½ acre or up to 50 acres. Generally, 5-10 acres are enough to be self-sufficient. This is assuming there is adequate rainfall in your area, a long growing season, and high quality of the land. 

Self-sufficiency depends on how many people are living off the land, your diet, the amount of work you are prepared to do to meet your goals, and how self-sufficient you want to be. You can reduce waste, increase yields and benefit financially from five acres of land.

Five acres is adequate land to grow food crops and keep livestock. The productivity of the land will depend on the climatic conditions and the availability of water and soil. 

Water management

One person consumes between 7714-14463 gallons of water in the US for various purposes. It is therefore important to consider the water needs of your entire family, any plants you grow, and livestock you keep on the land.

water storage tank
Photo by brittgow on Flickr

If you leave in a high rainfall area, you can harvest rainwater in tanks and other containers. If you live in drier areas, you can install your own water sources, such as wells and boreholes.

Water needs can decrease significantly if you implement sustainable measures for using and managing water and water systems. These include recycling and reusing water. For instance, you can use bathwater or dishwater for irrigation provided you use organic biodegradable soap in your washing.

Installing water purification and recycling systems on your farm might be cost intensive. However, if it is well-budgeted, recycling is a good way to manage your water use and reduce waste. 

Identify your family’s primary diet. 

Examine the composition of your diet and that of your family to determine the type of crops you need to grow. If your diet is plant-based, you will require less space for planting.

profitable food forest
small food garden

On a five-acre farm, you can grow and harvest fresh produce in approximately one acre to feed your family across the year. It is possible to produce enough food for your family on 5 acres and sell the surplus in your local community. Apply permaculture in the land through companion growing. The Three Sisters method involves planting squash, beans, and corn on the same land for best results. 

You can grow fruit trees together with your food crops. A fruit tree orchard will not take up significant space in your 5-acre area. Fruits are a good source of proteins and will also attract birds and other small animals to your farm. You can grow wildflowers with your fruit trees to maintain a colorful garden that is a haven for birds and pollinators. 

Rearing Livestock

Livestock keeping requires more space. On a 5-acre farm, you can keep chickens, pigs, and a dairy cow. A single dairy cow can produce enough milk to feed your family and will not require a lot of work.

You can let it graze freely on the land. You can use around 3 acres for grazing. This is enough to accommodate one cow and a few calves. Divide this land into four paddocks for rotational grazing. It is important to preserve soil quality and provide year-round food for your cows.

cow grazing on grass
Photo by Kev Wheeler on Flickr

You can produce your hay for feeding the cow during winter or purchase it from local stores or neighboring farms. Consider keeping goats as an alternative to cows. Goat milk can offer your family an alternative and healthy source of protein, fats, and carbohydrates. You can spare at least 2 acres for rearing goats. 

You can rear around 100 chickens for eggs and meat on 5 acres. Eggs are essential to your diet; you can also sell some in the local market. Keep both layers and broilers on the farm for a consistent source of protein.

chicken feeding on grass
Photo by Lisa Zins on Flickr

On average, a single hen can lay between 80 and 300 eggs a year. Chicken housing is based on the dimensions of 8-10 sq. ft. per bird in a free-range area. You can also keep ducks and geese on your land. 

It is also possible to keep a few pigs on the farm. A pig pen does not take up much space, and you can feed the pigs on waste food matter from your homestead. Three pigs can produce enough meat six times a week for one person annually.

In a self-sufficient system, you will need at least 207 sq. ft. for each adult pig and nine sq. ft. for each piglet. Pigs require massive amounts of food in a day and are labor intensive. To keep pigs, you must be prepared to work on them a lot and wait a while to enjoy the benefits of your work. 

How self-sufficient do you want to be?

Ask yourself whether you want to produce food for yourself and your family or eat and sell produce in the market. Consider whether you want to produce your energy. Do you want to create your own animal feeds?

12 principles of permacutlure

You can be self-sufficient in energy production and food on 5 acres. You also have more space to keep various kinds of livestock. 

A family of four can be self-sufficient on food and livestock, keeping around 2-3 acres. Grow fruits, vegetables, and grains, and keep animals for dairy and meat on your land to feed your family throughout the year. 

How much labor do you want to put into your land?

The type of activity you do on your land depends on the amount of work you are willing to do. Managing a 5-acre piece of land is labor intensive, and if you want to be self-sufficient, you have to put in the work and effort to obtain adequate yields.

dealing with weeds in permaculture

If you have a large property, you must account for fencing costs and repairs, how to till the land, and how to manage the livestock. On 5 acres, you can accomplish many tasks around the farms with simple hand tools. 

Invest in a tractor and mower to aid in the tilling of land and to manage the growth of grasses and wildflowers. Weeding is required to increase the yield of your food crops. You can weed manually or use herbicides.

This depends on the portion of land that you have set aside for planting. Companion planting, especially the Three Sisters method, will reduce the work you need to do to manage weeds. It is labor intensive at first, but once the plants are established, let them flourish and wait for the harvest. 

If you are keeping livestock, especially chickens, a lot of labor is needed to collect eggs and in cleaning their housing. Pigs need constant feeding throughout the day. If you let the dairy cows or goats roam freely in the paddocks, you will do less cleanup work in their housing.

However, during the winter, when the animals are mostly locked in their pens, you must regularly remove their droppings. The chickens will need to be kept warm, so you must keep a fire inside the coops or use alternative heating systems. Generally, the winter months are labor-intensive in livestock management. 

Do you want to sell your farm produce in the local market?

You can sell plant and animal products from your farm in the local market. The financial input into a 5-acre farm is massive for a small-time farmer. You can sell the surplus yields to the community to recoup some of the money invested in the farm.

farm harvest

Green vegetables and fruits can fetch a substantial profit in the market. Fresh farm produce is a high-demand commodity in many grocery stores around the country. You can also sell eggs or milk from cows or goats.

You can live entirely off the proceeds gotten from selling your farm produce. However, this depends on your spending habits and the lifestyle you and your family practice. If you do not have modest expenses, work the land, which will sustain you for many years.

Do your research on the most popular foods in your community to ensure a market is available. You can also introduce a nutritious alternative to common foods in your locality.

If you set yourself apart from anyone else, you can sell your farm produce at a premium. Experiment with different crop combinations to find out which product fetches the best price in the market and is more popular with local consumers. 


Self-sufficiency on a 5-acre farm is possible if you have a solid plan and a lot of time. It is easy to manage crops and livestock on the land and obtain sizeable yields. Take your time to understand the climate conditions of your area, the best activities for your farm, and the benefits you intend to gain. Five acres are adequate for growing food crops and keeping livestock. Self-sufficiency is the way to go to achieve food safety and combat climate change in your own space.