The Self Sufficiency Pages
Home food production, renewable energy, alternative technologies, sustainable agriculture
with an emphasis on Brisbane and Queensland

Growing your own food

There is an enormous amount of information on this subject already online, so for now this page will mostly help people in Queensland or other tropical/subtropical climates get started with some selected links that they might find useful for food production in backyards, acreages or hobby farms.

Some of the websites linked to below (and elsewhere on the site) might be aimed at commercial farmers, but have been included here because they contain potenially useful background information. If you're interested in commercial farming, contact your local agriculture department, as well as organic farming groups in your region if you want to go down that route. Links for some of the larger organisations provided below. Check their websites for branches.

Furthermore, be aware that regulations concerning what species, varieties or breeds can be grown/kept, what materials can be used and how, land management practices etc, may depend on your region and situation. Please check with relevant authorities if in doubt.

Image courtesy Battery Hen Adoption Project

Adoption scheme gives battery hens a new life

The Battery Hen Adoption Project buys battery hens a few days before they are due to be slaughtered and matches them with caring new owners.

Once out of the cages, they start to recover quickly. While they may be nervous at first, they soon learn to scratch, take dust baths, and explore their environment.

After adjusting to their new life, the hens can be expected to lay eggs for many more years.

Not only does this give the animals a second chance, it's a way to recycle kitchen scraps instead of them going into landfill. You'll also have manure for the garden and the wonderful companionship that chickens provide.

Furthermore, eggs produced in backyards reduces the demand for commercially produced eggs.

The Battery Hen Adoption Project is based in Brisbane, but relocation of hens to other areas can sometimes be arranged. For more information, visit the website:


Australian Organisations

Some of these may have factsheets and other information on their websites. Some groups, if you chose to join, may offer locallly relevant information via meetings, newsletters etc. If you live in Qld, see also the Events Diary because some groups may have shows, open dyas, workshops etc events listed there
Organic farming Assorted articles plus "Organic News" newsletter. NSW Department of Primary Industries
OFA The Organic Federation of Australia
Henry Doubleday Research Association of Australia Inc.
WWOOF Australia Willing Workers On Organic Farms

Edible Plants and Gardening (various)

Many of these site have extensive archives of information, so take the time to explore. As with any website, try the search facility (if one is provided) to look for a specific topic.
NewCROP tm Online Resource by Center for New Crops & Plant Products, Purdue University
ECHO An organisation helping people in developing countries overcome hunger. Lots of information on crops and techniques for difficult conditions at their website
College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii at Manoa offers Farmers Bookshelf and other publications on a range of topics
Texas A&M University Exension Horticulture extensive information available here
The Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), USA. Check the section on Economic Botany
Plantfacts Factsheet Database at The Ohio State University Dept of Horticulture and Crop Science
Under the Choko Tree Variety of articles about self sufficiency in the suburbs. Sydney
Urban Harvest Texas, USA
Center for Urban Agriculture University of Georgia, USA
The Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems University of California, Santa Cruz


If you live in a hot climate, appropriate information about vegetable growing can be hard to find, especially if you have to live with watering restrictions as well. More about vegetables with an emphasis on tropical and subtropical climates here: Queensland Gardening Pages - Vegetables

There's also extensive material about the most commercially important vegetable crops online (use your favourite search engine) as well as in books and magazines. The websites of your own state/national department of agriculture and/or university extension service may have information of particular relevance to your region.

Some of the sites in the "general" category above may also discuss vegetable growing.

Fruits and Nuts

More links about fruit and nuts of particular relevance to residents of hot climates here: Queensland Gardening Pages - Fruit and Nuts

If you live in temperate to cool climates, there's extensive information on fruit and nuts crops online via search engines plus books and magazines. As per vegetables, be sure to check the resources listed at the top of the page as well as the websites of your own state/national department of agriculture and/or university extension service.


Culinary herbs covered in more detail here: Queensland Gardening Pages - Herbs. Companion Planting is included on the Pests and Diseases page.

Nitrogen fixation, Green Manures, Cover Crops

Biological Nitrogen Fixation University of Florida
Biological Nitrogen Fixation from The Overstory, an agroforestry ejournal
Inoculants for legumes Qld Dept of Primary Industries
Tropical Green Manures/Cover Crops from The Overstory, an agroforestry ejournal
Nitrogen Fixing Trees--A Brief Introduction The Overstory, Agroforestry ejournal
Rhizobia of native Fabaceae Australian Flora Foundation
Effects of Trees on Soils The Overstory, Agroforestry ejournal
Pigeonpea University of Hawaii at Manoa
See also Beans and the section on nitrogen under Plant Nutrition at the Queensland Gardening Pages

Other useful plants, Multipurpose plants

Tropical Palms Non-wood forest products 10, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Discusses uses of various palm products around the world
Multipurpose Trees: Key Components in Agroforestry The Overstory, Agroforestry ejournal
Multipurpose trees at the ECHO website
Agroforestry Net A lot of information for Pacific Islands
Agroforestry in the Pacific Islands: Systems for Sustainability United Nations University Press. (Appendix includes notes on many useful tropical species)
Introduction to Multipurpose Palms The Overstory, Agroforestry ejournal
Multipurpose Windbreaks The Overstory, Agroforestry ejournal
Fodder Tree Establishment The Overstory, Agroforestry ejournal
Atcros On Internet (Australasian Tree Crops Sourcebook)

Soils - other

Queensland Gardening Pages - Soils More links about soils
Queensland Gardening Pages - Plant nutrition Info about soil fertility and nutrient deficiencies
Queensland Gardening Pages - Waste management contains links about home composting
Queensland Gardening Pages - Worms, Worm Farms contains links about vermiculture

Small "livestock"

The emphaisis here will be unusual or hard-to-find information because you're sure to find masses of information about chickens and other poultry via your favourite search engine. Also check the websites of your own state/national department of agriculture and/or university extension service for information relevant to your area.
Microlivestock from The Overstory, an agroforestry ejournal
Animal Tractor Systems from The Overstory, an agroforestry ejournal
Edible Insects, "more than you ever wanted to know about eating bugs" (Not an Australian site, but food for thought!)

Agriculture, general

Arid Region Farming Primer at the ECHO website
Arid Lands Newsletter Office of Arid Land Studies, University of Arizona, USA. Explore the archives for articles on farming and gardening in arid lands around the world.
Agriscape including organic agriculture
Income Generation Using Alternative Crops NebFacts from University of Nebraska

More to come in future updates...


Are some crops better for urban agriculture than others?
Urban agriculture experiment, Chicago
An experimental site located in the Chicago, USA, metro region. Photo courtesy of Sam Wortman

Food production in urban areas is gaining popularity, but is not without issues. These include air quality and climate within the urban environment. A study in Chicago is comparing sites across a 40-mile gradient from downtown outwards with the same soil but varying atmospheric conditions. So far, they are finding that some crops perform better in the city and others better in the country. Identifying crops best suited to urban cultivation (and even developing varieties especially for this) will help make the improvements to productivity necessary if urban farming is going to contribute significantly to food production. Studies like this may also provide insight into the effects of climate change and pollution on crops more generally in the future. Source: Urban agriculture: The potential and challenges of producing food in cities (September 2013)


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