Too Little Land… or Too Much?

Recently my mind was drawn to think again about the important issue of land reform – a key issue where I live here in Scotland. In Scotland, land is a pressing political issue, since so much of the land here is in the ‘possession’ of so few.

One of the many reasons why this is a serious issue is that this inequality leaves many with too little land. People living in cities often have a serious disconnect with the land – feeling that its preservation and use has nothing to do with them. This same issue crops up again and again around the world. There is a lack of access to land for would-be farmers and growers. And a lack of access for recreation and nature connection too.

But another important part of the picture not considered as commonly is the idea that some people have too much land. While of course not all large landowners are the same, some fall prey to a common issue – a wealth of land can often leave much of it under-utilised.

Productivity on small farms and in food producing garden can far, far outstrip productivity on larger estates and farms, when per acre or per hectare yield is considered. It is possible to invest much more time and effort in a smaller piece of land as an individual.

If you only have a small garden, every inch becomes important – and good gardeners will really think about every inch. Small farmer owners, smallholders and homesteaders also often have to think more carefully about how they use their space. And use it as fully as possible.

Those with larger farms, estates (or even larger gardens) may make them productive. But with a wealth of land, it can be easy to fall into the trap of producing sufficient, without really considering whether you are really doing all you can to maximise yields and benefits of all kinds on the site.

If you have a larger garden, are you really making the most of your space? If not, what could you do to improve matters (both in ecological terms, and to produce more for yourself and your family)? If time (or other factors) do not allow you to use your space fully, perhaps you could allow others without land use some of it and take a share of the food they produce? This could be one more way to ensure you follow the permaculture principle of fair share.

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