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Re: [pfaf] Re: Mininum land for vegetarian garden.

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  • Ken Fern
    Dear Graham Long time no see. I hope everything is well with you. I read your comments on minimum land use with some interest. I think you will find that the
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 6, 2002
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      Dear Graham

      Long time no see. I hope everything is well with you.

      I read your comments on minimum land use with some interest. I think you
      will find that the one fifth of an acre for a vegan figure came originally
      from a scientist called Kenneth Mellanby. He was commissioned by the
      government of the day (back in the 70's if my memory serves me well) to see
      if it was possible to grow all the food needs of Britain in Britain instead
      of importing so much food. His findings were eventually published in a book
      called, I believe 'Can Britain Feed Itself'.

      Amongst his many findings were that a meat eater needed up to 10 acres to
      provide their annual food needs (depending on the types of meat they ate) a
      vegetarian up to 2 and a half acres (depending on the amount of dairy
      produce they consumed) and a vegan one fifth of an acre. These findings were
      average figures based on the population as a whole. They were also based on
      average conventional (not organic) agricultural yields.

      Whilst these figures, used as a comparison, work well to show how much
      easier it would be to feed a vegan world, as you point out they can be
      confusing for individuals with their own small plots of land.

      I think it would be very difficult for one individual, even if they were
      very healthy, to grow all their food needs on one fifth of an acre, even if
      it was prime agricultural land. There would be bound to be times of glut and
      times of shortage. However, if a group of, say, five people shared an acre
      of land then it would be easier to smooth out the gluts and there would also
      be more space for growing the larger crops such as nut trees.

      As regards comparing yields from conventional agriculture with those
      obtained from a perennial gardening system, particularly using woodland
      gardening, there are no figures yet published (as far as I know) to show how
      productive a perennial system can be so no comparison is possible. It is up
      to all of us to start getting our acts together and recording what we are
      doing and how much food we are obtaining from our land - when we do this
      then we might start influencing mainstream agriculture.

      Look after yourself

      Love and Peace

      Ken Fern
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "quercusrobur2002" <grahamburnett@...>
      To: <pfaf@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Tuesday, June 04, 2002 6:09 PM
      Subject: [pfaf] Re: Mininum land for vegitarian garden.


      > Here's an article I wrote a little while back on this subject...
      >
      > Land required for Vegan self sufficiency- some questions and food for
      > thought....
      >
      >
      > How much land does a vegan require to be self sufficient in food?
      >
      > An often quoted figure, attributed to the Vegan Society, is that one
      > person on a plant based diet could be self sufficient on one fifth of
      > an acre of land.
      >
      > However I'm not so sure how helpful such a figure is- it's one of
      > those 'how long is a piece of string' type questions-
      >
      > There are many variables to take into account, here's a few I can
      > think of (which could also act as the start of a useful checklist
      > when considering any other self-sufficient food growing/land use
      > venture...);
      >
      > What is the land quality? What type of soil do you have? What
      > condition is it in?
      > What's it's aspect? Sun paths at different times of year?
      > Are you on a slope? How steep?
      > What are your first and last frost dates?
      > Do you have an independant water supply? What irrigation techniques
      > do you plan to use?
      > Is it 'virgin' land that requires clearing and initial cultivating?
      > Any pollutants or contamination that need to be dealt with?
      > What weather patterns do you encounter?
      > Prevailing winds? How exposed are you?
      > In what part of the country/world are you intending to grow?
      > Do you intend to add season extending structures such as polytunnels &
      > greenhouses?
      > What do you want to grow? Have you audited/analysed the nutritional
      > (eg, protien, carbohydrate, fibre, mineral, vitamins (including
      > vitamin B12))contents of your chosen crops? Which are heavy feeders,
      > which are light feeders?
      > Will you be planting annuals or perennials (including tree crops)?
      > What do you want to eat? What do you like?
      > Do you have a big appetite?
      > Are you a raw food vegan?
      > If not, have you factored in the land/energy required to produce the
      > fuel to cook your food?
      > What's your lifestyle? How much time/energy do you have? Other
      > commitments?
      > How fit are you?
      > Do you enjoy gardening?
      > How intensively do you intend to manage the land?
      > Are you using machinery/power tools?
      > If so have you factored in the land/energy required to
      > manufacture/fuel such equipment?
      > How experienced/knowledgable are you as regards food growing?
      > Are you using permaculture techniques and strategies such as
      > increasing edge, stacking, succession, using multifunctional
      > plantings, using zonal planning, etc, etc?
      > Are you returning your own wastes (ie, humanure) to the soil?
      > Are you growing organically?
      > If so, are you growing vegan organically? Have you factored in space
      > needed for compost crops and green manures?
      > Are you growing 'conventional' organically? Have you factored in the
      > land required to graze cattle or grow fodder in order to import their
      > manure outputs? What about transporting it to your land (dung
      > miles???)?
      > If neither, have you factored in the 'embodied energy' and land
      > needed to produce and transport the various chemicals & pesticides
      > you intend to add?
      >
      > ---------------------------------------------------------
      > One fifth of an acre of prime fertile rich agricultural soil in a
      > sheltered river valley with a long growing season, worked by a young,
      > strong, fit, experienced person 7 days a week following a well
      > integrated and thought out cropping plan, is going to be a very
      > different proposition to one fifth of an acre of exposed, thin and
      > acidic Welsh hillside being managed by say, a single parent suffering
      > from health problems and trying fit growing activities in with things
      > like holding down a job, commuting, raising a family, etc, etc!
      > Two people managing two fifths of an acre, or five people managing
      > one acre are completely different scenarios again, whatever the
      > land's condition!
      > Then there are all those other human needs that need to be met-
      > clothing, shelter, warmth, transport (not to mention emotional needs
      > including the company of others!!)
      >
      > Sometimes perhaps we need to be a little careful about quoting figures
      > without placing them in any sort of context or thining about what they
      > imply... Just some food for thought, I would welcome any responses or
      > comments...
      >
      > Graham Burnett
      > www.landandliberty.co.uk
      >
      > PS. I've produced a small checklist of issues to think about
      > when 'reading
      > your
      > land' at http://pages.unisonfree.net/gburnett/SEEOG/page13.html
      >
      > There's some other possibly useful checklists at
      > http://pages.unisonfree.net/gburnett/SEEOG/page4.html
      >
      >
      > --- In pfaf@y..., Richard Morris <webmaster@p...> wrote:
      > > bigjohn@g... wrote:
      > > >
      > > > I am doing research to find what the "minimal" amount of land
      > would be needed
      > > > to sustain just one (1) person every year.
      > > >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
      > pfaf-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
      >
      >
      >
      > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
      >
      >
    • Paul
      I have not seen the study you refer to but I should think it would be very difficult to be self-sufficient on such a small piece of land with only vegetable
      Message 2 of 3 , Jun 6, 2002
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        I have not seen the study you refer to but I should think it would be
        very difficult to be self-sufficient on such a small piece of land with
        only vegetable input and output. Apart from dealing with the problem of
        months of plenty against months of little as you mentioned, there is
        also the problem of nutrient loss. Without using animal waste, the
        amount of vegetable matter required for composting would be large (even
        with a system for using human waste) and the space to produce this
        material would not be there, as it would be necessary to grow food crops
        on most of the available land quite intensively I would have thought.

        I also don't think that using animals necessarily uses large amounts of
        space. Obviously keeping cows or pigs uses a lot of land, but what about
        chickens, rabbits or pigeons? All tasty and nutritious and can create
        perfect compost from vegetable matter in about 12 hours. It would be
        quite possible to keep either or all of these creatures in free range
        conditions without great demands on space. Eating them during the lean
        winter times could make self sufficiency far easier.



        From: Ken Fern [mailto:ken.fern@...]
        Sent: 06 June 2002 11:54
        To: grahamburnett@...
        Cc: pfaf@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: Re: [pfaf] Re: Mininum land for vegetarian garden.

        Dear Graham

        Long time no see. I hope everything is well with you.

        I read your comments on minimum land use with some interest. I think you
        will find that the one fifth of an acre for a vegan figure came
        originally
        from a scientist called Kenneth Mellanby. He was commissioned by the
        government of the day (back in the 70's if my memory serves me well) to
        see
        if it was possible to grow all the food needs of Britain in Britain
        instead
        of importing so much food. His findings were eventually published in a
        book
        called, I believe 'Can Britain Feed Itself'.

        Amongst his many findings were that a meat eater needed up to 10 acres
        to
        provide their annual food needs (depending on the types of meat they
        ate) a
        vegetarian up to 2 and a half acres (depending on the amount of dairy
        produce they consumed) and a vegan one fifth of an acre. These findings
        were
        average figures based on the population as a whole. They were also based
        on
        average conventional (not organic) agricultural yields.

        Whilst these figures, used as a comparison, work well to show how much
        easier it would be to feed a vegan world, as you point out they can be
        confusing for individuals with their own small plots of land.

        I think it would be very difficult for one individual, even if they were
        very healthy, to grow all their food needs on one fifth of an acre, even
        if
        it was prime agricultural land. There would be bound to be times of glut
        and
        times of shortage. However, if a group of, say, five people shared an
        acre
        of land then it would be easier to smooth out the gluts and there would
        also
        be more space for growing the larger crops such as nut trees.

        As regards comparing yields from conventional agriculture with those
        obtained from a perennial gardening system, particularly using woodland
        gardening, there are no figures yet published (as far as I know) to show
        how
        productive a perennial system can be so no comparison is possible. It is
        up
        to all of us to start getting our acts together and recording what we
        are
        doing and how much food we are obtaining from our land - when we do this
        then we might start influencing mainstream agriculture.

        Look after yourself

        Love and Peace

        Ken Fern
      • quercusrobur2002
        Thanks for your reply ken, this makes alot of sense, and puts this oft- quoted figure into a more meaningful context! I m also pleased for the more substantial
        Message 3 of 3 , Jun 7, 2002
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          Thanks for your reply ken, this makes alot of sense, and puts this
          oft- quoted figure into a more meaningful context! I'm also pleased
          for the more substantial reference than an old vegan society leaflet!

          Cheers Graham

          --- In pfaf@y..., "Ken Fern" <ken.fern@l...> wrote:
          > Dear Graham
          >
          > Long time no see. I hope everything is well with you.
          >
          > I read your comments on minimum land use with some interest. I
          think you
          > will find that the one fifth of an acre for a vegan figure came
          originally
          > from a scientist called Kenneth Mellanby. He was commissioned by
          the
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