I admit to being a little skeptical when I started reading Mini Farming, Self-sufficiency on 1/4 Acre. I’ve seen a few books that were written by people who didn’t have a clue what they were writing about with titles similar to this. Some of these books have unworkable ideas and make claims that are just not true.
This book on the other hand has much useful information and ideas that can help you gain a greater level of independence on fairly small areas of land. I think a better and more accurate title would have been “Mini Farming, How to Gain a Greater Level of Self-sufficiency on 1/4 Acre”. Obviously, no one can have total self-sufficiency on a 1/4 acre but the author of this book grows 80% of his family of three’s food on just that much land.
The author has developed a system of gardening that takes the best of the Biodynamic, Grow Bio-intensive and Square Foot Gardening methods. He utilizes double dug raised beds, vertical gardening, compost and organic growing techniques. His “mini-farming” system also includes raising chickens for eggs and meat.
I appreciated one area that Markham covered in the area of economics and “mini-farming”. He shows how the two income family is much better off by having one spouse stay home and raise food and children. He runs through the numbers and proves that in all actuality families are further ahead financially by doing this. I think that his argument will wake up many working mothers to fact that they are running themselves into the ground for very little return.
If nothing else, this book shows how to grow a substantial amount of a family’s food on a very small amount of land. Granted, the average Christian homesteading family is much larger than the author’s, but it still drives home the point that you don’t need a huge amount of land and if fact you probably haven’t even begun to utilize the land you already have.
I think that the book is ideal for beginners because it covers everything from seed selection to harvest and preservation. Not an exhaustive treatment of any subject, but very informative. I thought that the section on soil health was very well done. Considering how inexpensive this book is, I think that anyone who is trying to utilize a small holding of land to raise food should own a copy.