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PhoenixSouron

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My husband and I live on disability of 1,200 a month, and on only half an acre in town. How can I make my land turn a profit for me (even a small one). I'm putting in a garden this spring, and half my food comes from food banks. I have just enough now that I'm not borrowing from the in-laws (as of last month). But I need to find a way to start saving so I can work up to more land. Any idea's ... and GO!
 

tortoise

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I'd encourage you to reflect upon the definition of "self-sufficient". The media certainly depicts an image where land is required. Is that necessary?

Where are you starting from. It sounds like for your family, independence would be a HUGE step towards self-sufficiency. I've lived on that income, so I know it's not easy. As you look at projects, try to not choose too emotionally, but chose for lowest start-up cost and shortest payback period. <-- I cannot stress this enough as it was my Achilles when I had similar dreams with similar budget.

A garden is a great first step. How are you going to make the garden produce food that will affect your food independence? Do you have means to preserve food? Do you have knowledge to do it? Planting is the first part. Start now to make sure your hard garden-starting work equates money saving / food independence.
 

Hinotori

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Search on here or http://www.theeasygarden.com/ or elsewhere online to find out what grows best in your area and will actually be cost effective to grow yourself. Tomatoes usually are everywhere. I shop at the local asian markets when I can. The produce is unbeatable in quality and price. They also try and keep it as local as possible.

As for making money. I know there are a few people around here who rent out small plots of ground for communal gardening.
 

tortoise

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Are you in or near a city? If you run out of garden space, you can approach people about putting a garden in THEIR yard, you keep a percentage of the yield. Very appealing for people who want a garden but don't have time or knowledge. There is a lot of potential land to use around you - even if you don't own it! Don't let your circumstances limit your dreams.

Many self-sufficient endeavors don't pay for themselves - or only break even. We certainly don't break even on keeping chickens. We won't break even with our sheep. I may or may not break even with my rabbit breeding project - it will be years before finding out - and I'm not expecting to. A lot of the glamorous-looking self-sufficient lifestyle is a very expensive hobby (even when done frugally!). Don't focus on what other people are doing as it will kill your motivation and joy. My first years on this forum I felt awful about all the things I couldn't do. And I didn't take advantage of the things I could have done. Lesson learned! Don't let your dreams limit your circumstances either!

As far as side income to help you move forward more comfortably, look to what you love. Love to haggle? Barter up until you get what you want or get something very saleable. Love pets? Do some petsitting. Whatever you love, there is a way to benefit from it. Don't forget about Skype - tutoring, teaching, webinars, etc, via Skype are a possibility too.

I'm very interested to see what the coming years bring for you. Please stay around and update! :)
 

baymule

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I am more active on www.theeasygarden.com than I am here, but check in frequently for new posts. We currently live on a tiny city lot a few blocks from city hall in our little town. I have gardened for years in small beds in the narrow strip of soil between the driveway and sidewalk. That said, we are moving to be closer to our DD and her family, and we bought a home on 8 acres, so now I can really have some fun. But do not think that you have to have MAJOR land mass to provide for yourselves. If I had a half acre all these years, I would have been overjoyed. Even with my tiny garden beds, I have provided the majority of our food. I have canned, frozen or dehydrated the extra for eating out of season. We also live in an area where I can garden year around, so I always have a fall garden that lasts all winter.

First of all, make a list of foods that ya'll like. Start with the easy stuff, like tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, peppers. You might want to go buy 6-packs of vegetable plants to make it easier to get started. We really want you to succeed and not get discouraged. If you do have failures, and we all do, then post your blues and we can encourage you.

Another thing, make a landscape map of your yard. Note how much sunshine it gets in various areas. Then make a list of the fruits, nuts and berries that ya'll like. Plot out the map, color code it and make a legend at the bottom specifying what each colored circle or shape represents. If you like grapes, make a purple circle, apples, red circle and so on, for each tree or bush you want. permanent plantings will fruit later, about 3 years, but will be a permanent part of your food forest and you won't have to plant them again. Just care for them and they will reward you with fresh fruit, berries and nuts for years to come. Be sure to allow for growth space and size. You might want dwarf trees or semi-dwarf for more variety.

You can row crop between the fruit trees until they grow enough to shade out the garden, so plan a sunny spot for the garden. Look into planting things like asparagus, which sprouts up year after year, if you are in the climate zone for it, maybe rhubarb, which also comes back year after year.

Are you allowed chickens in your area? I keep hens in my back yard, no roosters! We have fresh eggs and meat from old hens. Occasionally I buy straight run, that is unsexed chicks. I butcher the roosters. Last spring I raised 20 Pekin ducks for the freezer. In 3 months time they were food for the table. Chickens can also be excellent compost makers. I have a 8'x7' coop with a 12'x8' run. I pile leaves in it and the girls peck, scratch and poop on them. In a few months, I get crumbly rich compost for the garden. I also toss in all garden clippings and spent plants. What they don't eat, they compost. I sell a few eggs here and there, but not enough to cover the feed bill. If I pushed it harder, I could probably break even and our eggs would be at cost zero.

Preserving your bounty for later consumption includes freezing, canning in jars and dehydrating. Each one of those is a whole 'nother study.

As far as making money on your half acre, I would concentrate on saving money first, as in providing food for yourself. You can barter or sell the extra, but not having to be held hostage to the grocery store is a huge bonus. A half acre is plenty to support your family with. Learn all you can, put in the sweat equity and get a growing season or two under your belt. Then you will have a better idea of what you can and can't grow for your area. You might then look into a very small CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) for maybe 1-3 customers. Custom grow for them and deliver twice a week. Organic is a big selling bonus.

Come on over to TEG, we will be delighted to help you out with more detail. Provide us with your general location, climate zone, soil type and we will all pitch in to help you out. You say you live in town, so what are your restrictions?
 

PhoenixSouron

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Thank you, to all three of you for writing back. I found quite a bit of it helpful.

As of yet I haven't gotten around to learning how to can food yet but it was already something on my to do list.I've been studying several sites regarding how to plan out a working garden with foods that grow well here in Missouri as well as finding heirloom seeds. I'd like to stay away from altered seeds. I have also done price comparison to make sure I'm not paying more for fertilizer and compost then I am just getting my food from the store. I have also been working on spreadsheets to organize how much I need of each type of plant I eat to last a year.

I live in a tiny town(if you can really call it that) of 700 people and I was told I could own chickens in town as long as their penned up. But my husband is against getting chickens because he says it will make it harder to sell this house with them messing up the back yard.But still doing research on hens, angora goats, and pigs for when I get to a larger piece of land.Also taking a look at medicinal gardens.
 

sumi

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Welcome to the forum, @PhoenixSouron heirloom seeds… I think you should pop over to TheEasyGarden. Baymule will introduce to the folks there and they will be happy to help you find what you're looking for and help you with your garden ideas. Fabulous community that one and I wish I had more time to hang out with them.

Chickens… awesome creatures, but they do destroy gardens if you let them free range. For a coop and confined run set-up you're looking at 4 sq ft per bird coop space and 10 sq ft run space (per bird). Depending on your space and needs that may be a viable solution? The garden can help some feeding them and they will in turn feed you with their eggs and eventually end up in the pot themselves if you can do it (I can't). Quail will give you eggs and meat as well and take up less space. That may be an option for you?
 

xrobertdevine

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Often overlooked is the threat of earthquakes here. If you're unfamiliar, read up on the New Madrid quakes of 1812-1813. If another one of that magnitude hit today kiss Memphis goodbye.
 

rhoda_bruce

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May I suggest you real "Possum Living" by Dolly Freed? She had a lot of very good suggestions on how to live on almost no money.
 
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