> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Review: Food Production Systems for a Backyard or Small Farm



Review: Food Production Systems for a Backyard or Small Farm

Most of us think about moving out to the country and starting up a small farm and full-time retreat. A few actually do it. Food Production Systems for a Backyard or Small Farm details the learnings of one family that followed the dream, starting their own small farm with little/no experience and learning along the way.

The family cites basic survivalism tenets as their leading motivation for starting up the farm--worries about dependence to the fragile grid, concerns about coming problems, etc. They're coming from the same place as most survivalists/retreaters, so you get a lot of sound advice, not crazy tree-hugging hippy stuff. This DVD is focused on off-grid farming for self-sufficiency and survival.

The DVD packs a lot of content into its 110-minutes of running time. It won't make you an expert in any of the areas covered, but it will give you a detailed view of each topic, plus guidance to other sources for more information. Overall, it is an excellent resource for anyone looking at growing their own food with minimal reliance on the grid.

The DVD covers the following topics:

  • Water
  • Gardens
  • Rabbits
  • Home Butchering
  • Poultry
  • Dogs
  • Perennials (orchards/food forests) - Geese are also mentioned here
  • Other Essentials

The DVD also comes with a CD packed with extra information--64 PDFs of reference material. Many of these, I'm sure, could be be found for free if you wanted to dig around, but it's great to have them right there for you, organized and ready to go. They're a great place to get started after you've viewed the DVD.

I was very impressed by the amount of information packed into each section. This is definitely a DVD that requires multiple viewings and probably some note-taking too, if you're planning on venturing into any of the topics covered. Very, very good stuff. This DVD, plus the documents and books referenced within, would give you a well-rounded library for survival/self-sufficiency gardening.

It's interesting to see how the family's small farm is set up, how they run things and what they recommend. My wife thought so too, and such can be fairly picky with "survival stuff." We're totally inexperienced at any kind of gardening or farming, so we found the video very instructional. Even if you're a pro at this kind of thing, you'll probably still find some pearls here.

Production quality is good. It's professionally done, with a late 90s PBS documentary-type feel. Don't expect prime-time TV levels, but it's better than I'd expected going in.

The family runs a small farm--the main plot is on 2 acres of land--but the information contained in this video could certainly be translated to a smaller backyard setting. There is advice for backyard farmers throughout--garden size, number of chickens to have, etc.

The family is located in central Texas, so some of the information is specific to the arid Southwest, but only a small amount. One thing that stands out is the importance of water in this region--the family has made huge investments in their farm's water system, and without it, none of their plants would survive. If you're planning on some kind of set up, water is going to be one of your primary concerns.

The family has certainly succeeded in keeping their farm almost entirely grid-independent. They use a well, rainwater and grey water to water their plants. They grow their own mulch/compost, and grow most of their own feed for their livestock. Their watering system is almost all gravity fed. They save and reuse seeds for many of their plants. It's pretty impressive. If the grid were to go down, they'd be fine and dandy.

The best advice given, I think, is the constant emphasis to start small and expand as you gain experience and skill. The DVD starts off by saying, up front, that the skills needed to be successful at this kind of small scale farming requires years and years of experience; it's not something that you gain overnight. If you go big right off the bat, expect lots of disappointment, mistakes and added expenses. Also, if you think you can just save a couple cans of heirloom seeds and start a lush garden post-TEOTWAWKI, with little to no skills, experience or development, you're in for a sad surprise. Start small-- with a single garden bed, a few chickens--and go from there.

My family is a ways off from even being able to start some small-scale backyard farming, but it's something we're looking forward to in the future. I'm glad that we have this DVD to watch as a starting point. If you're thinking about starting a similar project--whether going full-scale off grid, or just doing some food gardening in the backyard--Food Production Systems for a Backyard or Small Farm is an excellent reference to help you along the way.

Visit the website for Backyard Food Production or buy the DVD on Amazon. A YouTube trailer can be viewed here.