Self Sufficiency II

Learn to grow, process and use food to be more self sufficient -Save money, Eat healthier. Learn from experts with decades of experience in self sufficiency -We don't just teach it -we do it.

Course Code: ASS101
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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  • Don't rely on planes to ship food in from overseas
  • Don't depend on nature to not cause catastrophic weather events like floods, drought or volcanoes
  • Don't expose yourself to rising prices in the marketplace

“A step on from Self-Sufficiency 1 this course will develop your cooking, bottling and productive gardening skills whilst at the same time emphasising health and nutrition. Understand the importance of good health in a self-sufficient lifestyle and how to provide your own food.” - Adriana Fraser Cert.Hort., Cert.Child Care, Adv.Cert.App.Mgt., Cert 1V Assessment and Training, Adv.Dip.Hort., ACS Tutor. 

This course deals with food; what to eat, how to produce it, how to store it; and how to prepare it. 
There are ten lessons in this course, each requiring about 10 hours work.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Diet and Nutrition
    • Introduction to good health
    • Science of nutrition
    • Nutritive Values of different foods
    • Effects of Inadequate Nutrition
    • Food allergies
    • Water
    • How to be a Vegetarian
    • Vegetables -nutritive value, fibre
    • Health Basics, Natural Body Cycles
    • Major Food Groups,
    • Dietary Sources for different nutrients
    • Choosing and Using Vegetables
    • Understanding Carbohydrates and Diet
    • Fats, Protiens, Minerals and Diet
    • Energy Production
    • Recipes and A well balanced diet.
    • Living a Well Balanced Life -eating, exercise, etc
  2. Establishing a Kitchen Garden
    • Why Grow Herbs and Vegetables
    • Deciding food plants that can be grown in your garden,
    • What you can grow, and how you might use it
    • Designing a productive garden.
    • Managing Water for Optimum Value
    • Integrated Pest Management
    • No Dig Growing Method
    • Permaculture Gardening
    • Biodynamic Growing
    • Other Growing Methods
    • Understanding and Managing Soil
    • Getting Started with a Vegetable Garden
  3. Vegetables
    • Growing Vegetables from Seed
    • Transplanting Seedlings, Crowns, Offsets and Tubers
    • Using Cold Frames or Cloches
    • Culture for specific types of vegetables, including:
    • Brassicas
    • Lettuce
    • Legumes
    • Onion
    • Potato
    • Tomato
    • Others incl. Beetroot, Capsicum, Carrot, Celery, Corn, Eggplant, Parsnip, Spinach, Cucurbits
    • Others including: Artichokes, Garlic, Asparagus, etc.
    • Mint, Fennel, Dandelion
    • Mushrooms
    • Harvesting Vegetables
    • Growing -fertiliser, pest and disease management
  4. Fruit
    • Establishing a Orchard -What to consider
    • Orchard Location
    • Cross pollination, Winter Chilling
    • Pruning in the Home Orchard
    • Cultural techniques for different types of fruits & berries
    • Citrus
    • Apples
    • Apricots
    • Avocado
    • Cherry
    • Fig
    • Grape
    • Olive
    • Pear
    • Peach
    • Raspberry
    • Strawberry
    • Other Fruits: Mango, Medlar, Olive, Papaya, Pineapple, Blackcurrant, Kiwi Fruit and more
    • Cutting Propagation
  5. Bottling
    • Scope and Nature of Bottling
    • Equipment
    • Techniques for jelly/jam making
    • Sauces
    • Pickling
    • Bottling
  6. Freezing and Drying
    • Scope and Nature of Freezing
    • Freezing Tips
    • Anti Browning agents
    • How to Soften Water
    • Managing a Freezer
    • Vegetables you can Freeze
    • Harvesting and preserving techniques
    • Scope and Nature of Drying
    • Tips for Drying
  7. Producing Milk and Eggs
    • Milk Production
    • Choosing a Dairy Breed
    • Cows, sheep and goats
    • Nature and Composition of Milk
    • Milk Protein
    • Factors affecting Milk Composition
    • How Milk is Made
    • Lactation Cycles
    • Managing a Dairy Cow
    • General Methods of Caring for Animals
    • Animal Feed, Water and Health
    • Scope and Nature of Poultry
    • Feed and Water for Poultry
    • Developing an egg production system
    • Keeping Goats
    • Pasture Management
  8. Growing & Cooking with Herbs
    • Growing Herbs
    • Harvesting Herbs
    • Storing Herbs
    • Drying and Freezing herbs
    • Companion Planting
    • Selection and cultivation of culinary herbs
    • Recipes for cooking with herbs.
    • Using Herbs -Garnishes, Condiments, Medicinal Uses, Teas, Flavourings etc
  9. Egg and Cheese Cookery
    • Value of Eggs
    • Storage and use of eggs
    • Distinguishing different types of cheese, cooking with eggs & cheese.
  10. Grain
    • Different Types of Flour -wheat, corn, oat, soy, etc
    • Role of Cereals in Nutrition
    • Characteristics of Different Grains
    • Using Grains
    • Baking with Herbs
    • •Baking bread, etc.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Explain the importance of good diet and nutrition to good health
  • Discuss the potential for increasing self sufficiency by growing your own food in a kitchen garden.
  • Describe the potential and appropriate procedures for vegetable growing in your area.
  • Describe the potential for fruit growing and appropriate fruit growing procedures for your locality.
  • Describe the process of practices like bottling to extend the shelf life of produce.
  • Explain the process of practices like freezing and drying to extend the shelf life of produce.
  • Describe the principles of animal production and processing animal products, where someone is seeking to improve dietary self sufficiency.
  • Describe growing and cooking with herbs, where someone is seeking to improve dietary self sufficiency.
  • Describe the use of eggs and cheese where someone is seeking to improve dietary self sufficiency.
  • Describe the use of grains in a situation where someone is seeking to improve dietary self sufficiency.

What You Will Do

  • Write down what you eat on a typical day....and at what time of day you eat each of these things...and what quantities of each thing that you eat.
  • Visit a local nursery and inspect the food plants which are available in your locality.
  • Talk to the nurseryman and find out what types of food plants will become available at other times of the year.
  • Make a list of food plants which can be grown in your locality.
  • Build a compost bin and send in a photo of the finished bin
  • Draw a plan of your garden, as it now exists. Now plan how you would like to change it to produce a garden which supplies you with a significant amount of your food needs. b) Draw a second plan showing how your garden could become more productive.
  • Take a photograph of your soil. Name the type of soil using the chart `Naming the Soil' in the Accompanying Notes.
  • Design a crop rotation system for the vegetable garden you planned in question 3b. Send in your design and explain why you have designed it this way.
  • Contact the Department of Agriculture in your state and discover how they can assist you with your vegetable growing. Collect any leaflets (or other information) which you can.
  • List those vegetables which you consider would be easiest to grow and give the best production for the effort you would need to put in.
  • Contact your nearest Department of Agriculture office again. This time, obtain any information you can on fruit growing.
  • Prepare a list of fruit which you would grow to provide an adequate year round supply for the needs of a family consisting of two adults and two children.
  • Choose 5 fruiting plants and explain how you would propagate them.
  • Bottle something which you have never bottled before. Explain step by step the procedure you have followed. Indicate the equipment you have used in your bottling. Take a photograph of your finished product and send this along with your answer to this question.
  • Make a preserve of your choice, send in the recipe, ask your family and friends to appraise it. Send in a report on their comments.


Freezing Food


Whilst freezing is an excellent way of preserving many types of foods for very long periods of time, it is a relatively new development in the home. Before artificial refrigeration, food was commonly preserved by storing in an insulated, cold storage place.  The temperature was not as low as freezing point, but was maintained much lower than the outside environment.  A cool store, food cellar etc. are examples of t
his type of store.  The principle they operated on was basically “By insulating food from the heat of the day, the advent of decomposition was prolonged and food was able to be stored for longer periods".

Although frozen food has been available since the 1930’s when first introduced by Clarence Birdseye they were expensive and unaffordable for most people. Frozen foods became more affordable in the period just after the Second World War when the quick freeze method had been fully developed as the best method of freezing food.

Not all your produce will need to be frozen so to extend your ability to keep food for lengthy periods and if you can find a place (or create a place) which is well insulated (such as an insulated room built under your house) you will have a reasonable cool store.  A cool store should be kept dry and food stored there should be stacked in a way to ensure reasonable ventilation (eg. place a case of fruit on a wire rack, or at least on top of a couple of bricks). Apples can keep for months in a good cool store.  Peaches, plums, apricots, etc. all keep far longer in a cool store than at normal room temperatures.

Freezing is the fastest and most economical way of preserving food it is also very easy as long as you follow a few guidelines for specific produce. You should endeavour to freeze food as quickly as possible so the best type of freezer for home food storage is the deep freeze, not the small frozen food type compartments as the temperature in these is not adequately cold enough to keep food for long periods of time. The equipment required for home freezing is very similar to that for preserving and bottling mentioned in the last lesson. The hard work will be taken out of the process if you also have access to an electric blender, food mills and shredder and choppers and an air extractor. However these are not essential.  Freezer bags, tapes, suitable plastic containers, labels and a water proof are.

A few guidelines

  • The freezer should be set to its coldest setting about 12 hours before adding new unfrozen produce. This helps to prevent formation of ice crystals on the food. The faster you freeze your food the better as it is helps to retain flavour and colour.

  • Only freeze top quality fresh produce

  • Some foods do not freeze well and these should be preserved by other methods:bananas, cucumbers, celery, cabbage, lettuce and most greens other then spinach, potatoes, tomatoes unless they have been cooked and pureed

  • Quick freeze produce as quickly as possible

  • Handle produce as little as possible

  • Keep food to be processed in the refrigerator

  • Freeze in meal sized portions

  • Package well to prevent freezer burn and try to eliminate as much air as possible from the freezer bags

  • Label and date produce

  • Put newly processed food in the back of the freezer or on a different shelf to unused frozen produce.

  • Used those with the earliest date first

  • Make sure the rims of containers are wiped clean with a clean cloth before placing lids into position

  • Leave around 2.5cm space around packages

  • Leave a 1.5mm head space in containers to accommodate expansion

  • If you experience a power failure do not open the freezer door, a full freezer will retain its temperature for around two days. However the less you have in your freezer the quicker it will start to defrost. Do not take any chances with thawed produce it is better to throw out food if you are not sure rather then risk illness through contaminated food.

  • Only defrost food before cooking if necessary i.e. most vegetables are cooked from their frozen state. Meat and full meals should be defrosted in the refrigerator.

Basic method for fruit


To freeze fruit you will need to use sugar syrup, ascorbic acid or both. The strength of the syrup is dependent on the type of fruit:

  •    berry fruit purees = Ascorbic acid only – ½ teaspoon of citric acid per 1.2L of water

  •     peaches, apricots, nectarines, pears = Medium syrup plus ascorbic acid as above

  •     plums = medium to heavy syrup plus ascorbic acid

  •      rhubarb = heavy syrup

  •      strawberries whole = medium to heavy syrup

  •     oranges and grapefruit = medium syrup plus ascorbic acid

  •     pineapple = medium syrup

Note: ascorbic acid is added to prevent darkening of fruit

Light syrup

2 cups of sugar per 1.2L of water

Medium Syrup

3 cups of sugar per 1.2L of water

Heavy syrup

4 ¾ cups of sugar per 1.2L of water


Boil the water and sugar stirring until dissolved. Cool and place in refrigerator or freezer until ice cold not frozen. Always leave a head space of 1.5mm when packing into containers.

For fruits that require ascorbic or citric acid add ½ teaspoon dissolved in 1 tablespoon of cold water to the cooled sugar syrup

Fruit or vegetables should be frozen on the day they are picked to ensure the least loss of flavour and colour. Most frozen fruit or vegetables will retain their nutrients and flavour, but some will lose their consistency when thawed out. Tomatoes, for example, become mushy, but they can still be used in cooking. Once thawed out, vegetables should not be refrozen.

Vegetables particularly suited to freezing include peas, beans, soybeans, corn and asparagus.

General procedure:

1.      Pack food in airtight containers such as plastic freezer bags or plastic containers.

2.      Before sealing the container, remove as much air as possible.

3.      Write the date of processing on the container. Most frozen vegetables can be kept up to 8 months in a standard home freezer.

4.      When you put the container into the refrigerator, place it as close as possible to where the refrigerant circulates. This is the coldest part and is where freezing will be fastest. Leave a small air gap between containers when first freezing. This increases the rate of freezing. You might turn the freezer up to high when first freezing then turn it back later. Avoid too frequent opening of freezer door when a new batch of vegetables is being stored.


Some books (particularly older ones) will suggest that vegetables should be blanched before freezing. Blanching is a process of cooking or part cooking. Some people believe it reduces the pungency of certain strong flavoured vegetables (e.g. cabbage or onions) while others believe it is necessary for the freezing process (although others will argue that it most cases it is unnecessary).

How to blanch

1.      Put prepared vegetable into 1 to 2 litres of boiling water or steam it for several minutes.

2.      Plunge the vegetable into iced water to rapidly cool. These extremes of temperature are said to kill harmful bacteria and keep the vegetable fresh.

3.      Allow to dry thoroughly before placing in freezer bags.

Managing the Freezer

You should plan what you freeze. Keep a written record of what you freeze and when you freeze it, so you can see what the oldest food - this should be used first. When you remove something from the freezer, mark it off on your record. Plan how much of each crop you put into the freezer, so you don't end up with too much of one thing and too little of another.


  • The size of your freezer

  • How much food your family needs.

  • The best times to grow particular crops. What time of year will the produce be ready?

  • What time of year will there be room in the freezer?

  • The time needed to prepare and pack food for freezin



Method of Freezing


Normally blanched 2‑4 minutes, packed alternating stems and tips to minimise air gaps.

Common bean

Frozen whole or sliced; may be blanched 3 minutes.

Broad Bean

Shelled, washed and often blanched. Small size blanched 2 minutes, large 4 minutes. Drained and cooled before freezing.


Boiled 30‑50 mins, peeled, packed and frozen.


Soak 30 minutes in salt solution to remove any insects, then blanch 3 minutes, cool, drain and pack as air‑tight as possible (this can be difficult).


Cut into slices, boil 5 minutes, then pack and freeze.


Remove from plant, trim off leaves, place in freezer bags and freeze, as quickly as possible.


Treat the same as broccoli.


Wash, trim and soak in a solution of 2 cups of water to 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. After 5 minutes, remove and steam for 3 minutes. Cool, pack, seal and freeze.


Use only tender green pods. Remove stems and wash. Boil for 3 minutes, cool and drain. Either freeze whole or slice first then pack for freezing.


Treat the same as carrots.


Shell, blanch for 1 to 2 minutes, cool, drain and freeze packed in freezer bags.


Freeze whole and untreated to be used later to flavour stews make sauces etc if you cannot process quickly. However it is best to cook before freezing. Tomato paste's storage life can be extended considerably by freezing.


Anti-Browning Agents

Some foods tend to discolour if there have not had an anti-browning agent added:

  • Pack fruit in white (not brown) sugar or a sugar syrup

  • Use non-iodised salt in the water when you rinse or wash your vegetables before processing.

  • Use only soft water when blanching vegetables. Hard or brackish water will blacken them

  • Some fruits darken unless you add citric or ascorbic acid i.e. apples, plums, peaches etc. lemon juice may be used as an alternative at the rate of 125ml per 3 litres of water.


How to Soften Water

Hard water causes produce to brown during freezing it also produces scum on top of preserves during the cooking process.

a. Boil the water hard for 20 minutes

b. Allow to cool and stand for 24 hours then

c. Remove scum

d. Using a ladle transfer the water carefully into a clean container making sure that you leave behind any sediment



Completing this course will give you knowledge, awareness, confidence and inspiration to grow a wider range of things, then harvest and use what you grow in a wider range of ways than you have ever done before.

You will learn different ways to preserve foods from drying and smoking to making preserves and freezing. With that understanding reduce your reliance on buying in food for much longer periods through the year.

What Should You Study

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ACS Distance Education holds an Educational Membership with the ATA.
ACS Distance Education holds an Educational Membership with the ATA.
Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
ACS is a Member of the Permaculture Association (membership number 14088).
ACS is a Member of the Permaculture Association (membership number 14088).
ACS is an organisational member of the Future Farmers Network.
ACS is an organisational member of the Future Farmers Network.

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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

John Mason (Horticulturist)

Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant.
Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK.
He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world.

Rosemary Davies (Horticulturist)

Leading horticultural expert in Australia.
Rosemary trained in Horticultural Applied Science at Melbourne University. Initially she worked with Agriculture Victoria as an extension officer, taught horticulture students, worked on radio with ABC radio (clocking up over 24 years as a presenter of garden talkback programs, initially the only woman presenter on gardening in Victoria) and she simultaneously developed a career as a writer.
She then studied Education and Training, teaching TAFE apprentices and developing curriculum for TAFE, before taking up an offer as a full time columnist with the Herald and Weekly Times and its magazine department after a number of years as columnist with the Age. She has worked for a number of companies in writing and publications, PR community education and management and has led several tours to Europe.
In 1999 Rosemary was BPW Bendigo Business Woman of the Year and is one of the founders and the Patron, of the Friends of the Bendigo Botanic gardens. She has completed her 6th book this year and is working on concepts for several others.
Rosemary has a B Ed, BSc Hort, Dip Advertising & Marketing

Diana Cole

B.A. (Hons), Dip. Horticulture, BTEC Dip. Garden Design, Diploma Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Life Long Learning Sector), P.D.C.
In addition to the qualifications listed above, Diana holds City & Guild construction qualifications and an NPTC pesticide spraying licence (PA1/PA6). Diana runs her own landscape gardening business (Arbella Gardens). Active in many organisations including the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers.


Meet some of the tutors that guide the students through this course.

Andrew Williams

Andrew Williams BSc (Hons), PgDip Eng, MSc, CEng MIET, CMgr FCMI

Andrew has extensive experience across the engineering and building services industries, with specialisms in refrigeration and energy management, with professional recognition as both a Chartered Engineer and Chartered Manager.

This experience includes working in consulting and leadership roles right through to being hands on to deliver projects and outcomes for large scale organisations and within startup and scale up environments.

He has adapted his experience to integrate with new technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) to allow for a data driven perspective to be applied to problem solving and is actively using Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to solve real world problems.

Jacinda Cole

Jacinda has expertise in psychology and horticulture. She holds a BSc (hons) in Psychology and a Masters in Psychology (Clinical) and also trained in psychoanalytic psychotherapy at the London Centre for Psychotherapy. In horticulture she has a Certificate in Garden Design and ran her own landscaping and garden design business for a number of years. Jacinda also has many years experience in course development and educational writing.

Jade Sciascia

Former Business Coordinator, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Secondary School teacher (Biology); Administrator (Recruitment), Senior Supervisor (Youth Welfare). International Business Manager for IARC. Academic officer and writer with ACS for over 10 years, both in Australia and in the UK.

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