Reduce your reliance on money, a secure job and a regular income
It can be a life changing and liberating experience to learn how to provide for your own needs and the needs of your family.
Self sufficiency is not an "all or nothing" proposition; and in reality, we will never be totally independent for one reason: it is in our nature to be social, and we all need to interact with other humans in order to be psychologically fulfilled. Many of the tutors in this course have however shown through their own lives that it is possible to grow your own food, produce your own energy and make many of the things you need in your day to day living.
When you study Self Sufficiency through ACS you are learning from people who are both academically trained (in things like farming) and who are applying aspects of self sufficiency to their own daily lives.
Why do this course?
- To become more self sufficient in your own life
- To help others become self sufficient, perhaps teaching or maybe by developing a "green" industry business.
Note that each module in the Certificate In Self Sufficiency is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.
What is covered in the Modules?
Self Sufficiency I covers ten lessons which develop your understanding of self sufficiency, food and nutrition, and making the right decisions about changes in lifestyle; as well as showing you how to do a whole range of practical things such as mud brick building, making crafts, growing fruit, vegetables, herbs, and other crops; raising poultry, sheep & goats, extending the life of clothing, conserving energy, recycling, simple home medical care and first aid, and lots more.
In Self Sufficiency II you learn to be self sufficient with your food. You learn about nutrition and how to balance your diet, as well as how to produce, process, store, and use different types of food. This includes berries, nuts, milk, cheese, eggs, bread making, preserves, & dried food. Cooking, freezing, drying, bottling, making bread, planning a vegetable garden to give produce all year round, and lots more are covered over ten lessons.
Only four of these are studied.
This course has eight lessons as follows:
- Problems & Energy Sources
- Understanding Energy
- Generating Electricity
- Electricity Storage and Use
- Non Electric Systems
- Energy Consumption
- Energy Conservation
- Converting to New Systems
Mud Brick Construction
- Scope of Mud Brick
- How to make a mud brick
- Planning and Site Works
- Legal Considerations
- Laying Bricks
- Doors, Windows, and Roofs
- Other types of Earth Building
The course is divided into eight lessons as follows:
- Permaculture Principles
- Natural Systems
- Zone & Sector Planning
- Permaculture Techniques
- Animals in Permaculture
- Plants in Permaculture
- Appropriate Technologies
- Preparing a Plan
There are ten lessons in this module as follows:
1. Evaluating Design Strategies
2. Understanding Patterns
5. Humid Tropics
6. Dry Climates
7. Temperate to Cold Climates
8. Planning Work
10. Sustainable Systems
- Introduction: Scope, Nature of Sustainability
- Land care: Weed control, Tree Management, Pest and Disease, Fire, etc.
- Financial Sustainability
- Broad Management Strategies
- Enterprise Selection & Management: Plants
- Enterprise Selection & Management: Animals
There are eight lessons as follows:
- Introduction: Terminology, Breeds
- Diseases In Poultry
- Record Keeping, Economics & Marketing
Organic Plant Culture
The ten lessons are as follows:
- Introduction - Gardening styles, basic organic procedures, etc.
- Plant Culture
- Understanding Soils
- Fertilizers and Plant Nutrition
- Soil Management
- Pests & Diseases
- Seeds - Collecting, storing & sowing
- Vegetable Growing in your locality
- Fruit Growing in your locality.
- Introduction to herbs, definitions, uses. Classification of herbs; use of a botanical key.
- Cultural Techniques...planting, soils, drainage, feeding, mulching, composting, pruning.
- Propagation Techniques...propagation mixes, growing structures, cuttings, seed, separation & division, layering.
- Identification of plant health problems...pest & disease, frost, heat, water stress, etc.
- Processing & Use of Herbs
- Harvesting & Storage
- Mentha species: Peppermint, spearmint, applemint, wintermint, pennyroyal, corsican, ginger mint etc.
- Lavender (Lavendula varieties) & thyme (Thymus).
- Assorted Lamiaceae varieties:Lemon Balm, Hyssop, Rosemary, Bee Balm (Monarda), Basil, Savory, Marjoram, Sage.
- Artemisia species...Southernwood, Wormwood, Tarragon, Mugwort.
- Miscellaneous Asteraceae: Chamomile, Tansy, Safflower, Costmary, Yarrow, Calendula, Dandelion etc.
- Parsley, Coriander, Dill, Caraway, Angelica, Cumin, Fennel, Lovage, Sweet Cicely etc.
- Chives, Leek, Garlic chives, Tree onion, Welsh onion, etc.
- Rosaceae (Rose, Burnet, Strawberry, blackberry, etc)
- Miscellaneous: Lemon grass, Lemon verbena, Bay, Sorrel, Dock, Juniper, Horseradish, Evening Primrose, etc.
- Scented Geraniums; Australian Natives, Eucalyptus and Others
- Companion Planting
- Natural Pest Control: Herb sprays, biological control, etc.
- Landscape Design Principles and Practices: How to draw a landscape plan
- Home Gardening With Herbs; Cottage gardens, hedges & borders, tubs, baskets, kitchen gardens, herb lawns, herb indoor plants.
- Public Landscaping: Historic herb grdens (Knot gardens etc), herbs for low maintenance & colour in parks..etc.
- Establishing & Operating a Herb Nursery: Open ground vs container growing, nursery layout, potting soils, pots and labels,marketing, etc.
- Establishing & Operating a Herb Farm:Soil Preparation and management (plastic mulch, organic mulches, cultivation), row cropping.
- Evaluating Herb enterprises, assessing market demand. Deciding how to proceed.
Starting a Small Business
There are 12 lessons in this course:
- Introduction to Small Business
- The Business World
- Your alternatives - different types of ventures
- Basic Bookkeeping
- Sales Methods
- Developing a 12 month business plan
- Implementing a business plan
- Reviewing progress in a new business
- Improving profitability
Bush Tucker Plants
Learn to identify, grow and use Australian Indigenous Plants for Food. There are many Australian plants that are edible, and even some that are in very high demand as foods throughout the world. The Aborigines lived off the land before white civilization came to Australia. Plants contributed significantly to their diet. Many of these native plants are worthwhile growing ‑ others might not be. There are many different types of bush tucker foods, including:
- Nuts and seeds (eg. Acacia, Macadamia, bunya nuts)
- Drinks (eg. hot teas, infusions of nectar laden flowers, fruit juices)
- Flavourings (eg. lemon scented myrtle)
- Berries (eg. Astroloma, some Solanum species)
- Fruits (eg. quandong, Ficus macrophylla, Syzygium)
- Wattle seeds ground to produce ‘flour’
- Plant roots ground to produce a paste or flour
MOVING TOWARD SELF SUFFICIENCY
by John Mason (Principal, ACS Distance Education)
Modern society is extremely complex. It relies completely upon a massive network of interrelationships between individuals and groups. Each part of society supports each other part. To live in such a world usually involves finding a niche for yourself, giving your contribution to the whole machine, and in return the machine supports you.
This system does have it's advantages:
It allows for efficiencies of scale. When something is made in large quantities, it can be produced more efficiently.
It allows for specialised development of skills (ie. if a person is able to concentrate on one job they can become more proficient at that job).
It buffers the effect of a mistake (ie. if someone has an accident, the system supports the person until they recover ‑ through an insurance scheme or government welfare, the expense of the accident is shared by many).
Modern society also has its disadvantages:
It is impersonal ‑ It only guarantees the material needs of a person. The impersonal way in which goods and services are provided can increase the likelihood of emotional problems.
It does not tolerate anything which does not fit the system. People who deviate from what is considered the 'norm' are 'labelled' and rejected by society in the main as being odd or different.
Everyone is so dependent on everyone else that they are frequently affected by things they have no control over, for example, industrial disputes.
If the system collapses, everything collapses. People do not have a broad enough range of skills to survive if thrown into unusual situations such as war, economic collapse, massive power plant breakdown or natural catastrophes.
The concept of self sufficiency is all too often bandied around without people properly understanding what it all means. Consider the following statements:
To be self sufficient, is to produce the things which you need to survive without the assistance of outside people.
You can produce some of your needs and be partly self sufficient, or produce all of your needs and be completely self sufficient.
An individual person can be self sufficient, a small group (eg. a family) can be self sufficient, or a large group can be self sufficient (you might think in terms of a whole society, city or nation).
To become self sufficient usually involves making certain compromises or concessions in your lifestyle. You might have to wear different types of clothing, adapt to a different level of mobility, reduce or no longer use modern consumer goods, or change your diet. The degree to which you can achieve self sufficiency is usually related to the degree to which you are willing to make compromises.
Large areas of land are not necessary to become self sufficient. Depending on what you produce and how you produce it, you can become relatively self sufficient, in terms of food production, on even a standard suburban house block.
Bartering or swapping goods and/or services is a way of living often adopted by the person interested in self sufficient living. This is not self sufficiency strictly, but like self sufficiency, the barter system offers an escape from a dependence on the monetary system. Many communities have set up barter groups which work on a point system for goods/services supplied, which are then traded throughout the group.
To be self sufficient requires a blend of three things...
a) Practical knowledge and skills.
b) Management or organisational skills.
c) A readiness to compromise. You may need to compromise to achieve a balance between the things you would like to have and the things you are able to provide yourself with. A self sufficient lifestyle might make you less dependent on society, but this might only be possible at the expense of giving up some of societies luxuries.
To become self sufficient, you must be selective in the goods and services you choose to supply for yourself. It involves doing those things which yield greatest benefit in relation to the time, money and materials you need to spend on producing the goods or service (eg. if you spend $20 on fertilizer and seed in order to grow $10 worth of vegetables, you would have been better to not grow the vegetables at all...you could have bought them instead and still had $10 in pocket to spend on another more worthwhile project).
The way you physically organise your property and living space (both inside and out) as well as the way you organise your time, are vital factors in improving your level of self sufficiency.
THE BASIC ESSENTIALS
The first items to which one must look at for self sufficiency are food, clothing and shelter. Once these are either satisfied or a plan is organised on how to meet your requirements of further areas of self sufficiency can be explored.
Food is essential in order to survive. It is perhaps the single most important consideration if you are trying to become self sufficient. It should be possible for any family to become relatively self sufficient for food on as little as 1/4 acre (0.1 ha) of land. You cannot do this by simply growing anything which you might be able to eat. It is essential that you plan the food you produce, to ensure a steady and regular supply of a variety foods needed to maintain good health.
Vegetables and Fruit: In most climates it is relatively easy for the farmer to maintain some cropping. Variables such as drought, floods, etc can play havoc with crops as can voracious animals. A constant supply of a variety of fresh vegetables is important for health. Many fruits can store well as can some vegetables - which make important food reserves
Meat: Stocking animals which can be slaughtered on farm and eaten reduces costs and improves self sufficiency. To ensure the health of individuals, a range of animals is recommended such as cattle, pigs and poultry. Other by-products such as milk and eggs are also important for self sufficiency.
Consider farm animals capable of yielding usable fleece eg. sheep, goats, alpacas, etc. Another by-product, the hide, is essential for leather production.
Fibre from plant sources will provide the farmer with a more diverse range of materials to work with. Cotton, flax and silk are well known fibre plants. Hemp, although presently illegal in Australia, produces a popular well wearing strong cloth.
It may be difficult to become self sufficient in terms of clothing based on these products, but they may become valuable as barter commodities.
Most farmers already have their dwelling, so at this point, we will presume that this basic essential is catered for.
It is almost impossible for you to become self sufficient in the area of health care; however measures may be taken to minimize the amount you need to rely on the medical profession.
There are two things which you can do to reduce your dependence:
- Keep healthy! If you are fit and healthy, you are more likely to be able to resist infection when you come in contact with it. Sleep is essential to good health. People have different requirements, however most need at least seven hours.
- Learn the basics about medicine for yourself! Everyone should know some basic first aid. If you know the basics, you will then know when to seek professional help. Organisations such as, the Red Cross and St Johns Ambulance Society regularly hold courses in first aid.
The practice of preventative medicine, which incorporates an overall healthy lifestyle, may reduce the need for medical consultations. However, it is important to recognise there are many reasons to see a medical expert which are warranted.
A wide variety of alternative medicine practices have seen a resurgence in recent times. Many have a solid scientific foundation while others do not. You should approach alternative medicine with caution and make up your own mind after thorough investigation of all the available facts.
Not many people would like to go back to the days before electricity was supplied to every home. The thought of living a contemporary life-style without flicking a switch can seem daunting. However there are ways in which the energy needs for the modern family can be met by those who are looking towards self sufficiency; Sun, wind and water all readily available, can be harnessed to provide us with our daily energy needs, while reducing long term costs.
These are items people can either use substitutes for, or in some cases can live without.
For the self sufficient person, it is the items used within the house that are the first to be replaced with more natural or basic alternatives.
Soaps, cleaning solutions, shampoos, etc can be made at home with a few basic ingredients. Once the making process is understood, expensive named brands will no longer need to be purchased.
For anyone, it is wise to look at items used and try to determine how to make alternatives or do without.