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Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  743 ratings  ·  60 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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Community Reviews

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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
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
Sergiu Burlacu
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
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 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.
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
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.
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
Jake Kuehl
I enjoyed this book but it is very basic in its coverage of concepts and I would only recommend it to somebody that has little to no understanding of gardening. Perfect for me, but not for everybody.
Decent to get me excited for gardening. But I will read again once I am closer to actually doing it.
Jul 01, 2010 josh rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
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.
Not in depth on any particular topic, but a good overview of numerous new subjects (for me).
too basic... already knew the stuff. Was a good book for beginners.
A thorough reference for hobby and small scale farming. Well done.
Remy Attig
Great overview for someone who knows NOTHING.
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.
Excellent guide to all aspects of gardening, raising some small livestock, and food preservation. Incredibly accessible and concise information about, well, practically everything.
Apr 25, 2012 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).
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.).
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.
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.

Kim McKay
instructions for making chicken plucker; compost details
Ustaaza T.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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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...
Maximizing Your Mini Farm: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre The Mini Farming Guide to Vegetable Gardening: Self-Sufficiency from Asparagus to Zucchini The Mini Farming Guide to Fermenting: Self-Sufficiency from Beer and Breads to Wines and Yogurt The Mini Farming Guide to Composting: Self-Sufficiency from Your Kitchen to Your Backyard The Mini Farming Handbook

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