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Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  1,232 Ratings  ·  83 Reviews
Mini Farming describes a holistic approach to small-area farming that will show you how to produce 85 percent of an average family’s food on just a quarter acre—and earn $10,000 in cash annually while spending less than half the time that an ordinary job would require. Even if you have never been a farmer or a gardener, this book covers everything you need to know to get s ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published April 1st 2010 by Skyhorse Publishing (first published December 1st 2006)
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Jan 02, 2011 Amelia rated it it was ok
I found this book much less satisfying than others of its type (Backyard Homestead and The New Self-Sufficient Gardener are better). The chapters were basically an outline of what should be covered, but the coverage of various topics, from compost to accounting, often left a lot to be desired. The thing which sets this book apart from others is its focus on the economics of mini-farming. The back cover says that this book: "will show you how to produce 85 percent of an average family's food on j ...more
Aaron Bolin
Apr 17, 2013 Aaron Bolin rated it really liked it
I bought this book expecting a good general overview based on the cover and table of contents. In my opinion, Markham delivers exactly what the cover promises. Because he covers a lot of topics, the level of detail is broad and focused around general knowledge: gardening, raising poultry, food storage, etc.

In terms of criticism, the level of detail is sometimes at too high a level to be useful. At other times, the author goes very deep into tagental topics.

Overall, I liked the book and feel like
Jenika Beck McDavitt
Sep 30, 2016 Jenika Beck McDavitt rated it really liked it
The hardest part about doing something where you're still relatively new to it: Figuring out what you still don't know. If you're in that place with gardening, this fills in a lot of holes and then points you to where you need to learn more. There were also lots of little tricks that probably used to be handed down parent to child in farming communities but were lost when family farms changed.

This was a great overview of an enormous number of aspects to running a high-yield garden. It also expl
Oct 02, 2011 Anna rated it really liked it
Mini Farming is probably the beginner book I'll start to recommend to aspiring gardeners. It still tells you to use a lot of storebought materials, but it's better than Square Foot Gardening. Nothing really there for the intermediate or advanced reader though.
Matt Sears
Jan 17, 2017 Matt Sears rated it really liked it
A good beginner's guide. I skipped some of the parts on chickens; maybe eventually.
Mar 30, 2011 jess rated it liked it
Shelves: growing, 2011
I think I really enjoyed this book because it feeds into my most basic desire - that it is possible to quit your job and support your family on a small plot of land. The economics and math here are a little bit fuzzy, but essentially, if you make $30,000 a year or less, you could/can reduce your expenses and make enough money on 1/4 of an acre to get by. It sounds preposterous, and I haven't lived it enough to say whether it's possible for most people, but it seems, well, at least not completely ...more
This book, in all aspects, is a very short textbook. If you're looking for something that's completely in-depth and reads more like a book, I don't think this is the perfect fit for you. If you're a mostly total beginner like I am, you'll probably get some helpful info like I did.

Gardening was something I was introduced to during a long hospitalization. Mostly I was introduced to how much I loved gardening -- it was good emotional and physical therapy for me!

I recently decided that I wanted to
Sep 16, 2012 Slee rated it liked it
Shelves: food, gardening
There are many parts of this book that I feel needed to go into greater depth, but at other moments, Markham breaks down processes in ways that other books I've read on the topic fail to. I appreciate that Markham expects his readership to be tech-literate and rather than repeating everyone else's research, supplies suggestions as to where we can find the information we may want in a convenient manner. At times it felt like I was reading a personal blog more than a guide to mini-farming, and the ...more
Oct 24, 2012 Mark rated it it was amazing
Markham does an excellent job of giving general information concerning self-sufficiency with regard to food production. The information is not regionally specialized which makes the book useful for anyone considering a major lifestyle change that includes true self sufficiency. The gist is to use raised beds, start slow and use intensive agriculture methods that make the most efficient use of space. An extra plus is that Markham includes a few short chapters on raising (and slaughtering) chicken ...more
Sergiu Burlacu
Mar 02, 2015 Sergiu Burlacu rated it liked it
Even though this book provides a good overview on how to use garden space more efficiently, I was disappointed with how impersonal the style is. When I am reading a gardening book I expect to see the joy and enthusiasm of being in nature and growing your own food. Moreover, his approach to organic agriculture seems to require a dependency on expensive non-renewable resources with a high carbon print which is not the way I imagine sustainable agriculture. I have seen so many inspiring gardeners w ...more
Apr 28, 2010 josh rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to have a home garden or make their home garden more productive
Recommended to josh by: saw it on the shelf @ the library
this was a pretty solid book. i don't have a yard or the ability to do any of this now - but i learned a lot about the life of a small farmer, how they can supply most of their own nutritional needs and turn a profit at the same time.

hands down - this is a must read for anyone who wants a garden or wants a more productive garden. i'm totally going to reread this when i have the land and space to put in some raised bed gardens somewhere. even if i can't eat all that i grow - i'm intrigued by the
Oct 04, 2013 Nicole rated it really liked it
Markham delivers a general overview of mini farming. He covers a broad range of topics. My advice to anyone wanting to live a life leading to self-sufficiency farming is to pick and choose from this book. Start out small. If you read it with the mindset that you would like to do everything that Markham discusses, you will become overwhelmed quickly. The book is also an interesting, informative read for anyone who wants to know more about mini farming, what's involved, and how it is accomplished.
Kait McNamee
Aug 10, 2016 Kait McNamee rated it really liked it
I've been spending a lot of time with my chickens and my shitty garden on my .10 acre (hey man, land ownership ain't cheap these days...) so I wanted some tips on how to make things more productive. This book is dry, almost academic, but super awesome. Like, awesome lessons for a first-time organic backyard urban farmer. It turns out I've done pretty much everything wrong with my mini farm this year, so I'm just going to keep this book in my back pocket for next year.
Dec 10, 2010 Ami rated it liked it
Brett L. Markham writes a solid gardening book. The better parts of this book include good photos, additional bibliography, and cheap alternatives to normally expensive procedures. The downside to this book basically boils down to a different gardening philosophy to the one I currently like most. This book is not for the beginning gardener, but rather for the mini-farmer who wants to become self-sufficient.

Jun 25, 2013 Jocie rated it really liked it
An essential read if you are trying to grow veggies in raised beds. Excellent information about replenishing the soil in creative and practical ways.

The title is deceptive, however. It will help you grow food economically (!!! important), but doesn't go into adequate detail on any other topic (touches on raising fruit trees, grain, and chickens, but not adequately. Doesn't go into aquaculture, rabbits, beekeeping, etc. etc.).
Dec 31, 2010 Joshua marked it as to-read
Leans towards the Jeavon's side of the agricultural continuum: 4 foot wide x (as -long-as-you-like) raised beds (a bit narrower for trellised crops), densely interplanted. Mostly organic, but makes some interesting points about synthetic pyrethrin mixtures & carbaryls. Fertility mix is similar to Solomon; good discussion on cover cropping. Emphasis on not worrying so much about complete fertility self-sufficiency (which can be easily imported).
Mar 04, 2014 Ruth rated it liked it
This book is probably more for the person who wants to grow and sell vegetables, and for those who have very little space (i.e. less than 1/4 acre like the title says!). The practices are interesting -- intensive gardening and square foot gardening -- but I plan to do a traditional tilled garden since we have a big lot. Anyway, good info for when to plant and lots of good info about fertilizers, which I'm sure to use.

Still trying to find a book with a map of a garden to help plan my own.
Jun 27, 2014 Janet rated it really liked it
Reinforcement and perhaps repeat of information from some of his other Mini Farming books, but I found this a nice review. He seemed to want to convince people of the financial benefits of farming on a small piece of land as long as we utilized his ideas. Besides vegetable (and later fruit) gardening and selling and preserving them, he also wrote a couple of chapters on raising and killing chickens.
Feb 13, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: grown-up-books
Not a detailed treatise on any of the topics he covers, but it's quite comprehensive for a small volume--reasonable detail on everything from seed starting, to slaughtering your own broilers, to canning your crops. The bonus is that the author lives in NH, so all his "sample schedules" for seeds and such can be followed verbatim by me.
Very knowledgable author, but very approachable. Makes a daunting idea seem quite plausible.
Mar 19, 2012 Doc rated it really liked it
Quite a good starter book on self-sufficiency. It isn't all inclusive, but it gives great direction on how to start down the path to greater independence and smarter cooperation with the small part of world around you. It is very easy reading, and most of the instructions are quite clear. There is a small, but helpful Bibliography.
Jennifer Miera
I skimmed. The author has combined several gardening methocs (bio-intensive, organic, etc) to create a mini-farm out of his yard. I thought he tried to tackle too much in one rather short book - everything from raising livestock to vegetable and fruit production. Not terribly in-depth, but a good start.
Ustaaza T.
Nov 27, 2012 Ustaaza T. rated it it was ok
This is a fine book if you only want an introduction. But you can't really run a mini-farm on the information. Each of the chapter subjects needs to be its own book for complete understanding of even beginning to employ the topic.

Alarmingly, the book includes a design for a home-made chicken plucker which would be impossible to sanitize.
May 19, 2015 Clarke rated it liked it
Shelves: book, 411, borrowed, e-library
Nice informational book but more hardcore gardening/farming then I'm planning. The book has a nice layout and is well reasoned with helpful tips. This is the first book of it's kind that I've looked at so I don't know how it compares to the others. If you're looking for a complete guide to self-sufficient farming not just plants on a reasonable sized piece of land this book is for you.
Aug 11, 2011 Suzanne rated it liked it
Shelves: 50-books, 2011
Good basic overview of EVERYTHING with encouragement to work full time and still support your family with urban farming/micro farming. Good mix of many methods (Biointensive, Square Foot, French Intensive), and realistic on the space and effort it takes to feed a small family. Chickens (egg and meat) were covered too!
Mar 04, 2012 Joni rated it really liked it
Shelves: gardening, 2012
I'm currently just reading the chicken chapters and they are simple and helpful. It feels like a good go-to guide with just enough information but not so much as to overwhelm me. The author helps me feel as though it is something I could realistically do. The pictures are nice and the book is a nice good size.
Jan 29, 2011 Carrie rated it it was ok
This book wasn't very well organized or interesting. There was a LOT of filler and not enough meat. The technical information was helpful as in the chicken plucker, but he doesn't talk enough (or at all) about designing a homestead on such a small lot. This book is just lacking in so many areas, I would never recommend it.
May 13, 2010 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book covers EVERYTHING I need to know about self-sufficiency, from ordering seeds to starting seeds to saving seeds to preserving the harvest to building a chicken coop to selling, and much more. It doesn't go completely in depth, but for such short chapters it is pretty detailed, and it contains a decent bibliography at the end.
Jan 20, 2016 Rachel rated it really liked it
This wouldn't be a book for someone who is new to gardening/farming as it assumes you know a little bit but it covers a multitude of topics which I really liked. If you are new to gardening or mini farming, there are other books that are a lot more detailed.
Jul 23, 2015 Carolyn rated it it was ok
I don't think a lot of the author's suggestions would work for me. Very labor intensive method of gardening, and author is optimistic about a lot of techniques that in my experience are difficult to get right (starting plants from seed, keeping a compost pile healthy without a tumble bin, etc).
Jun 20, 2014 Kristofer rated it it was ok
The book could have used more editing - has a "self-published" vibe to it. Informative but inconsistent in level of detail regarding different aspects of homesteading. No truly useful or novel information one can't find elsewhere.
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Brett L. Markham is an engineer, third-generation farmer, and polymath. Using the methods explained in his book, he runs a profitable, Certified Naturally Grown mini farm on less than half an acre. Brett works full time as an engineer for a broadband ISP and farms in his spare time. He lives in New Ipswich, New Hampshire.
More about Brett L. Markham...

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“Using 4-feet × 8-feet beds, that would be 22 beds per person or 66 for a family of three.” 0 likes
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