My current thoughts are the more $ you have up front to be freehold on land the better, so more time can be spent on the land and less paid employment in transitioning. However, it is a toss up between wanting to get started and earning the income that will allow you to set things such as alternate power  while you are on a salary. Ideally the property would have its own water source, be off the grid and compost all wastes - including human - to close the loop of external resource as much as possible.

Having a 900m2 urban property at the moment, we have ample room for 20 fruit and berry variety's, 2 large vege beds and chooks. We could easily expand the vege beds so that a year round supply of root and leafy green veges etc could be grown (time permitting). From that I guess that on 1/2 an acre (3 times the space) you could have 2 varieties of each fruit for better all round supply and have space for some nuts and pulses too. For the meat eaters, another 2 acres would allow a year round supply of beef and lamb. Add 1/2 an acre for firewood and coppice trees, and I estimate (very roughly) that about 3 acres would be plenty of land to go on, assuming you are not growing for sale at market to earn an income. With intensive cropping and composting that might be possible anyway. I have no knowledge of growing grains and what that might involve....thats my story thus far.

I would be interested in your stories - how you started, how much land you have, what you grown, what you sell, if you work outside the property to bring in some $, whether you are off the grid and what it cost you to do so,,.we often learn in isolation and in doing so repeat the mistakes of others. This fantastic site is ideal for learning off each other in creating this dream.

If you are still in the visioning stage, I'd love to hear your dreams also



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Hi Laine, those are worthy dreams indeed !

We live in a pastoral culture here, especially in Taranaki .... cows and sheep are pretty inefficient ways to grow protein, and do enormous damage to the landscape, by their hard hooves. If we shift to pigs, rabbits, ducks, guinea pigs, guinea fowl, eels etc for our protein, we don't need to shell out big $ for lots of land, we can heal and restore the landscape, and our farms can be incredibly productive.

2 hectares is more than enough for a couple to "farm" full time for their income ...... it is all about re-thinking how we use landscape.

I am full time farming now (with a bit of teaching as well) on what is effectively less than 1 hectare ....
I've only just started full time, and have lots of learning to do .... currently I'm growing vegetables, oyster and shitake mushrooms on corn cobs/wood chip/logs, learning to manage the chooks and ducks for high productivity, experimenting with growing rice in wetland padi and normal garden beds (20 tonnes/ha yield if you know what you are doing!), growing apples, plums, berries, etc.

Next year in August, the whole family is packing up and moving to a isolated rural farming village in China for a year, to learn how to farm the living water flowing through the landscape: rice culture integratd with ducks/fish/frogs/shellfish, tree crops, mushrooms, medicinal herbs, forestry, etc, etc. Their skill level is so high that they can earn good family livelihoods on less than 1 ha, growing enough food to feed 15 families.

Is land "ownership" is necessary or desirable ? We are setting up a village structure that will allow people to have access and managment of ample land for up to 99 years, at around $2000/ha/year. This means people can focus on growing farm-based livelihoods, rather than paying a mortgage.

For anyone interested in this stuff, I've attached 2 articles thar ran in Lifestyle Block magazine earlier this year.

Nga mihi nui, Kama
Hey Kama,
That was a very interesting read indeed! It takes permaculture's focus on water management a big step forward, but still aligns with its principles. Does Haikai have a website or book he has written? One key thing that jumps out is that to manage the water on a single block of land within a pastoral landscape you need to manage its hills. Being right on the flat with a hilly sheep farm above you would prove challenging...though I am sure you could still make big improvements.

Your lease idea sounds pretty cool. How would that go with getting consents to build houses though? I am guessing the council would say no, yet many people would likely only be keen to be involved if they can live on the land.

Going to China for a year to learn aquaterraculture sounds fantastic! Good on your guys for following your dream so passionately.
Hi Laine,

We're on a an even smaller section than you - about 650m2 (although we have access to a bit of extra land as well). I've planted up most of the perimeter with fruit and nut trees including a fair few doubles, have a dozen chooks or so. I'm currently digging up most of the lawn and replacing it with box gardens.

I've seen a section of about 450m2 which produced more food in terms of fruit, nuts and vegies than the owners could eat (I think they grew enough to feed 2 or 3 families). Our garden is quite young and most of the trees have only just been planted this year, but we're already starting to get reasonable crops from some of the few trees I planted when we first moved in about 4 years ago.

If you're willing to keep the trees down to a manageable size (say 3 m or so) or perhaps form them into an espallier or cordon its amazing how productive a very small garden can be.

We have an old villa which we're slowly retrofitting - we've installed some insulation in the ceiling so far. It has a small wood oven and we will be adding a solar hot water system and rainwater tank in the near future.
I agree with your on the size you need. I think there is a growing realisation that you don't necessarily need 'land' to grow a lot of food. When we got out place (900m2) it was 1/2 in landscaping stones unfortunately, so one of our first steps was to take a lot of it out. Would you believe the landscaper even put pebbles around the citrus? These are now barked and fruiting fine (except the lime, which i'm struggling with a bit - its had worm juice, comfrey tea, blood and bone, and is still not happy)

I agree with the tree size thing too. We got trees off a nursery specialising in old local varieties and on semi dwarf rootstock to keep them smaller, and dotted them around the site. We also went for self pollinators so we cold have just the one of each tree. It was all a bit rushed as we bought the house on Aug 2nd in 2008 and decided not to wait until the next winter for planting. So we had 2 weeks to suss out the property and decide the best sites for each tree type. The only tree we got in the wrong place was a tamarillo, which got nailed by the as yet unknown prevailing wind. All else is doing well. So, all up we have about 20 types of fruits an berries. We also have about 60 comfrey plants under the trees and along the chook pen for feeding chooks, mulching and comfrey tea making each year.

There are 2 good size vege beds, and then we do other edibles around the fruit trees - such as herbs under fruit trees (sorrel, echinacea, chamomile, peppermint, etc. If we were keen we could easily triple the vege beds, but we want a bit of lawn for some open space and lounging in the sun. And at the moment it is a balance of full time work and having a baby in the house. My main focus is getting more savvy on winter crops and when to plant them, as last year I planting too late in autumn (I have a strange passion for learning how to plait onions and tie them in the garage but my onions have not grown well yet!) I also want to preserve more food for winter and from autumn on grow some oyster mushrooms. It sounds pretty easy, but I need to find some poplar or willow branches ideally -

My wife Kelly makes all our bread - sourdough. We get about 12-15 eggs off our 3 cooks a week and get fresh unpasteurised organic milk via a neighbour. We don't drink cows milk at all, as neither of s does that well on it, but we make kiffir, quark and paneer out of it. I have also just managed to source meat off a friend of a friend who has a lifestyle block. And lastly, as of today we grow wheat and barley grass for juicing. I've just been waiting to plant out the lat off the seedlings to free up some space in the little seed raising greenhouse we got (go Trademe).


I just found this group and joined so I’m sorry this reply is a little old, but the gravel under the citrus trees is to reflex the sun underneath to warm the tree so it is quite good for it, and the best thing for your lemon tree, dare I say it? Is human Pee, I send my husband or son out to deal with my tree when ever they it is looking a little off color and the trees love it!  a family of five we use lemons in almost everything and we cant even make a whole in the lemons we have and when the plumber climbed on the water tank he was shocked the there were so many lemons it was completely yellow and he couldn’t see the leaves. So pop out just before bed when there no-one around, and after a couple of weeks you will never feel bad about this unusual task.

OK, so 18 months has gone by and the dreaming is taking shape. Its interesting reading my post above and seeing where we have come to. At the moment we are looking at less land and doing things a little differently. The key is we have decided not to have stock other than chickens. The cost of getting the land for a couple of beefies and sheep is enormous compared to the price of meet, and we are confident we can source local meat off friends with larger lifestyle blocks nearby. We are also aware that there is a lot to know to have organic stock, and while I would be up for learning this, why not tap into someone else's skill set by buying off them?

My estimate of woodlts is also huge above. A tree a year on a 10-15 year felling cycle seams ample to me now, which does not take up much space at all. We looked at a 3/4 acre block a while back, and nearly bought it, but even that I was thinking would need sheep to graze the extra space. And yet smaller blocks are hard to find compared to 5-10 acres. What would I do with 10 acres!?

So. with these thoughts in mind we are now looking at a 1 acre block that is 1/2 regen bush. On that we can have 10 chooks, 10 vege beds, bees, a large orchid and a bit or lawn for the kids. 10 vege beds you say? Well, Im thinking of fallow beds and growing enough for winder - so a bed of black beans, a bed of potatoes, half a bed of corn and beetroot etc., a bed or herbs to make and freeze pestos for the year...focusing on what stores well or is easily preserved or frozen.

Another key thing that has come up for us is transport. Peak oil coming - for sure. So we are looking at spending an extra 10-14k to get something close to New Plymouth. When you work out the transport, even at current rates, you easily recoup that over 20 years. And that is the length vision we are looking at. The lands we are hoping to buy is 6.5km from town, about the distance from Pt Chev to New market. It is also on a lifestyle road, so i am hoping to set up a car pool scheme for those interested.

So, ideas move forward. Where is everyone else at?

Smiles, Laine

I look forward to your next update Laine. I appear to be in the same position as you. I am looking for land. I also have a partner whom to say is reluctant is an understatement. I have many years as a gardener and have worked on farms as a youth. I have kept in touch with the information about farming animals dreaming of a time when I would be able to get my own again. Some of my calculations are that I would need around 2-3 acres of good land to feed 4 people year round. I need around 1/4 of an acre to grow vegetables and other produce for sale and animals. Don't forget that easily grown pumpkins can take up a lot of room. I will do this in a mix of bed gardens and row gardens. I have feed my partner and I off a small vegetable garden of 100sqm for three years all our vegetables. I will need around 1/2 an acre for orchard.This would not be your traditional orchard but the trees would be spread around the farm. Like walnuts would be used as shelter trees. Almonds planted up the drive etc. Some will be traditional espalier and row trees. I have calculated that I will need around 400 sq metres of firewood trees. These will be spread around the farm doing useful jobs like shelter and breaking up the wind. I will plant coppicing trees as after the first cut at seven years they can be harvested every 3-5 years from then on. I have calculated that I will need to grow around 50 olive trees. I would grow a variety that is high in oil. If my information is correct I should be able to get 50 litres of oil off each tree when in full production. Plus the crush would be used as animal feed. This should give me around 2500 litres of oil. Some for my own use, some for sale, and most which I would turn into Bio diesel. I will use this to run machinery like a shredder and a small tractor. The rest will be used to run a light vehicle. I will also have solar panels and water heater. Wind and if possible micro hydro. I will also run a full electric vehicle for short passanger only trips in the 140km range. I will have animals, around 20 chickens,some ducks and geese. Some eggs would be sold and goose at christmas. I would have a couple of pigs (sows). This is the reason for the larger garden as I would grow crops to feed them, as well as using them to help me garden by digging it up for me. I would also keep on rotation goats two with alternate lactation. So that we have milk and milk products. I might also have a couple of sheep for meat. I am seriously considering eating the kids of the goats and even using surplus milk to feed up extras. I will use small padocks and electric break fenceing to control feed.

I know how much work this would be but I think that if I get systems set up and use my brain that I can do this with relative ease. Anyway that is the dream.

Regards Peter

Hi Laine,

Just have read this, haven't actually been on ooooby for ages! Wow you guys are really fortunate to have your own land. At the moment we rent on a very small section and kind of have to be carefeul what we do (not that it stops me that much lol)! We have been on it now for three 1/2 years...and slowly more and more of the back yard is getting made into vege gardens! We currently have seven beds for veges (including the lawns that have just been dug up) for veges. Have planted beans, peas, potatoes, corn, lettuces, courgette, cauli, cabbage, tomatoes etc and my partner built me a hot house out of pellets so have egg plant, chillis and peppers growing in that! I have planted a number of fruit trees/vines including apple, lemon, feijoa, peach, passionfruit, raspberry and loquat...with manderin and limes in pots. I really want a plum tree but just unsure where to put it at the moment!

My partner and I can only but dream at the moment! We dream of a 3/4 acre section in town or 3 acres in the country. We are just saving as much as possible so that we can buy a house with a big deposit saving us a lot of money in the long run and so I can be a stay at home mum!

All I say is keep dreaming cause one day they will keep you up so much at night that you will just have to do something about it! ha ha


Love the updates too :)



Update 2. Well these dreams are certainly ones that teach you the value of time and patience (or at times a lack of it). Its 2.5 years since the first mullings were written here. Slowly, very slowly, things take shape. Before Xmas our purchase of 1.25 acres of land close to New Plymouth finally went through.  We bought a house off Trade Me 7 months back. Due to land contract issues, we did this before the land sale was signed up. Yep, it was pretty mad - we got a house and potentially no land (we were pretty confident though). Time to go with gut instincts... I drove 3 hours to Hamiltron, had 10 minutes in the house looking for any structural issues and taking a LOT of photos. My wife and daughter could not come, so Kelly agreed to buy the house from photos and house plans, bless. She only saw it in the flesh 5 days back, and only 1 half of it! Today she sees the 2 halves joined for the first time, as the relocation company does their thing.

I have completed the 1st draft of our land design, after many hours of reading about food forests and talking to the nursery. Child 2 is on the way. 2013 is all go. :)



Love your plan! hope it is working out for you! Pretty house too, will come up really well!

How did you make this plan it works so well seeing it there in front of you?



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