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How Much Land Do You Need in Vermont?

The simple answer: you can support a family of 4 with 20 acres!

How'd we get there? Well, let's dig into the details!

Barn in Field During Fall in Vermont


For a non-vegetarian family, the general estimate is that you need about 200 square feet of garden space to allow for a harvest that feeds everyone year-round. So, for an average family of four, plan for an 800 square-foot garden — a plot that is 20 feet by 40 feet in size. 

For a vegetarian family, it’s estimated you’ll need 1.79 acres of land to feed a family of four strictly on a home-grown diet of vegetables.

In general, VT consists of growth zones 4a and 4b with extreme ranges of 3 and 5. So for our illustration, you’ll need <1 to 2 acres of cropland for the family of 4.



Mixed Northern Hardwoods are common in VT. Hard and soft maple, white and yellow birch, cherry and poplar, hemlock, spruce and red/white pine are also common. One way to increase production for heating is to rely more on the faster growing semi-hard woods, like Poplar. They produce slightly less heat but reproduce quickly in VT. 

Vermont typically has 15 – 20 cords per acre with a recovery of about 0.6 cords per acre.  So, with 6 cords required a year, an 8-to-10-acre woodlot is enough for a permanent heating solution.



This is of course dependent on soils, but getting 3 full cuts of hay a year is not uncommon. 1.5 acres per cow is often the rule of thumb in VT. Farmers doing supplemental purchased feeding often get away with 0.75 or 1 acre per cow.

A family of 4 consumes about 888 lbs. per year of beef. Keeping 4 – 5 cows easily meet this requirement. This is about 7.5 acres of good grazing land.



Vermont is well known for its many private and public waters, lakes, streams, rivers and more.  In Vermont we do not have to deal with “water rights” – a known issue in the west. If it’s on your property, you can use it! We also receive over 43” of precipitation each year, which greatly reduces the need for irrigation.

We see an abundance of springs on properties, and drilled artesian wells, which receive water not from aquafers but from the bedrock fissures, is common on most developed VT properties.

It is easy to find and meet your water needs on just about any Vermont property. The saying in Vermont is not “Where do we get water” – it’s “What do we do with it!”. 


Have questions about buying land in Vermont? Ask The Land & Lake Guys

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