Learn self sufficiency -growing fruit vegetables herbs,sheep & goats,simple home crafts,conserving energy, and more. Take the first step towards living off the grid.

Course Code: ASS100
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Convert to a More Sustainable Way of Living 

  • Live a healthier and happier life, learn to become more sustainable with food, energy and other daily needs.
  • Or forge a new business or career working in  Self Sufficiency

Whether your aim is to reduce living costs, produce healthier food, or something more dramatic like quitting your job and relocating to acreage; this course is a great foundation for  those scenarios and more


What is Self Sufficiency?

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, 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 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 on even a standard suburban house block.
  • Bartering or swapping goods and/or services is often adopted by the person interested in pursuing a self sufficient life-style. This is not self sufficiency strictly, but like sufficiency, the barter system offers an escape from a dependence on the monetary system.
  • Along with self-sufficiency comes the idea of a system of living that is self-perpetuating - the basic structure of which works with the cycles of nature. The permaculture concept, companion planting and alternative medicine are all seeking to establish a self supporting system both economically and environmentally.
  • Self sufficiency means different things to different people.
  • The one thing that all fans of self sufficiency share in common is a desire to reduce reliance on goods and services supplied by others.
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.
We can however take far more control of our own destiny by doing two simple things:
  1. Increase our capacity to independently provide the goods and services we desire
  2. Change our attitude and lifestyle so as to reduce the demands we place upon ourselves to provide as many goods and services.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Understanding the possibilities
    • Understanding Modern Society and the Scope and Nature of Self Sufficiency
    • What is Self Sufficiency
    • What is Needed to make a Change
    • How to Start
    • Getting the Right Attitude
    • Being Realistic
  2. Health, Nutrition and Clothing
    • Introdyction to a Balanced Lifestyle
    • Health and Fitness
    • Understanding Anaerobic and Aerobic Exercise
    • Mental Health
    • Understanding Food and Human Nutritional Needs
    • Clothing Needs
    • Safety with Fabrics
    • Protective Clothing
    • General Care and Hygiene for Everyday Clothing
    • First Aid
  3. Horticulture - Fruit and Vegetables
    • Scope and Nature of Horticultural Production
    • Selecting and Planning for a Vegetable Crop
    • No Dig Growing
    • Review of Different Vegetabl;es
    • Growing Fruit
    • Berry Fruit
    • Nuts
    • What to Do with Excess Produce: Preserves, etc
    • Resources for More Reliable Information
  4. Growing and Using Herbs
    • Introduction
    • Cultivation of Herbs
    • Natural Pest Control and Companion Planting
    • Herbs for Different Situations
    • Harvesting Herbs
    • Handling Fresh Herbs, Drying Herbs
    • Cooking with Herbs
    • Herb baths
    • Propagating Herbs
  5. Animal Husbandry
    • Short Cuts for Animal Rearing
    • Chickens : Feeding, Watering, Housing, Health
    • Turkeys
    • Geese
    • Ducks
    • Bee Keeping
    • Locating a Hive
    • Honey Production
  6. Animal Husbandry
    • Overview: Cattle, Sheep, Goats, Horses, and Pigs
    • Livestock Terminology
    • Feeding Animals on Pasture
    • Pasture Management
    • Housing, Shelter, Fencing
    • Animal Health and Disease Management
    • Breeding
    • Keeping Pigs
  7. Building
    • Introduction to Earth Building
    • How to Make Mud Bricks
    • Building Foundations
    • Laying Bricks
    • Wall Finishes
    • Using Fasteners : Nails, Screws, Bolts
    • Building Tools
  8. Energy
    • Scope and Nature of alternative energy sources
    • Comparing Renewable Energy Sources
    • Solar Energy
    • Wind Power
    • Solar House Design
    • Energy Conservation
    • Growing and Using Wood for Fuel
    • Choosing a Wood Burning Appliance
    • Environmental Aspects to Burning Wood
    • Care and Maintenance of Wood Stoves, Chimneys
  9. Craft and Country Skills
    • Scope and Nature of Crafts
    • Marketing Home Crafts
    • Protecting Your Work
    • Painting
    • Candle Making
    • Other Crafts: Pot Pourri, etc
    • Rustic Timber Structures
    • How to Join Timbers
    • Tool Maintenance
    • Cleaning and Sharpening Tools
  10. Making Decisions
    • Scope and Nature of Decision Making
    • Risk Management -Preparing for Emergencies
    • Preparing for Fire
    • Making Money - Small Scale Home Based Businesses
    • Growing things to Sell on a Small Property


  • Discuss the nature and scope of self sufficiency.
  • Explain the importance of good nutrition and health.
  • Explain the importance of suitable clothing and clothing care.
  • Explain the relevance and application of horticulture to self sufficiency.
  • Explain the cultivation and use of herbs.
  • Explain the main requirements for successfully raising animals.
  • Explain the fundamentals of caring for grazing animals.
  • Explain the available alternatives to eating meat.
  • Discuss various building techniques that can be used to construct buildings.
  • Discuss alternatives to conventional energy sources.
  • Determine and describe accessible craft and country skills that may contribute to self sufficiency.
  • Analyze potential changes in lifestyle to increase a person’s level of self-sufficiency.

How To Convert to Organics
Going organic in your gardening and food isn't as difficult as you might think, if you know what you are doing; and you take a careful and well planned approach to changing your old ways. The eventual reward will be both a healthier environment and a healthier body.
Organic production means more than just avoiding chemical pesticides though. If you do it properly, organic gardening is a way of harnessing nature to work for you.
Organics is not necessarily an all or nothing method either!
You can go partly organic if that is your wish.
Why Do People Go Organic?
  • Health – less toxins in the body (for people, wildlife and pets)
  • Cost – you can grow more for the dollar … because you are recycling and harvesting benefits from nature
  • Environment – a sustainable growing method
  • Better food – many people prefer food grown without pesticides. It can taste better too!
How to do it Organically
  • Use natural pest control methods
  • Control weeds without chemicals (hand weed, cultivate, mulch, burn etc)
  • Mulch (for temperature and moisture control)
  • Use organic fertilisers
  • Recycle – compost kitchen scraps and garden waste
  • Choose plants varieties that are less susceptible to pests, disease etc
  • Choose combinations of plants that work well together.
You don’t need to change the basic structure of the garden to make a start.
Take a systematic approach:
  1. Consider the plants/garden areas that frequently need fertilising, weeding, spraying etc.
  2. Identify and write a list plants that are problems – for example those that get lots of pests or diseases.
  3. Make a list garden of garden areas that are problems, like those that get lots of weeds or need frequent fertilising.
  4. Analyse your lists – and prioritise …you will end up with a list of problems that are normally either ignored or addressed in a non-organic way. You are now ready to deal with these, one by one, in an organic way.
Healthy soil means healthy plants.
An important factor in the success of an organic garden is the condition of the soil. Healthy soil requires less fertiliser and less water. It’s easier to dig and easier to weed. The work you put into the soil will pay off by reducing the workload as the organic system develops.
Any soil can be improved through the addition of organic material:
  • Manure – sheep, cow, horse, poultry
  • Vermicast (earthworm castings)
  • Mushroom compost
  • Composted kitchen scraps
  • Composted leaves, grass clippings and other garden waste
  • Grow cover crops of legumes to build up soil nitrogen
Make your own. Site your compost heap in a location handy to the kitchen and use as much on-site material as possible – autumn leaves, grass clippings, kitchen scraps, even torn up newspaper.
Dig the compost into the soil to improve its fertility and structure, or spread it on the surface as an organic mulch that will naturally break down into the soil.
A lawn occupies a horizontal space. A more productive garden results when trees, shrubs and ground covers fill the vertical space in your design.
Grassy areas also consume a lot of chemical herbicides, pesticides and fertilisers. If your lawn receives more attention than the rest of your garden, you could consider removing it completely.
Pulling up established turf can create its own problems. But if you are thorough, it will reduce the work required later, when your turfed area becomes a beautiful garden.
When redesigning or creating garden beds, use the least amount of edging possible. A circular or curved garden will have fewer problems with weeds than a long, thin rectangular garden.
Selecting the right plant may be the most important factor in the success of any garden. Choose the right plants for your garden style and climate.
Many ornamental plants such as roses have been bred for their appearance and/or smell and are very prone to pests and disease.
Local native plants will grow well without excessive input from you. They prefer local conditions and will not suffer from pests and diseases as readily as non-local natives or exotics. They will also attract native birds that will further reduce pest problems.
Certain plants can be planted as companions, ie. different species are grown together to improve their vigor and to repel pests. Some examples of companion planting are:
  • marigolds planted with tomatoes or roses to deter nematodes
  • garlic planted under peaches to prevent leaf curl 
Many pests can be controlled with natural methods. Here are some examples:
  • Use physical protection such as cages and nets to keep pests from your plants.
  • Slugs and snails can be trapped in saucers of beer
  • Garlic spray or a blast of water from the hose will control aphids
  • Remove the weeds from around plants where caterpillars can hide
  • Lavender bushes will repel moths
  • Insects, such as aphids are attracted to yellow. A piece of yellow card or plastic can be smeared with something sticky (eg. honey) and hung amont plants. Insects that land on it will become stuck there.
By spraying less you will encourage the beneficial animals and insects that control garden pests. Chemical sprays can often kill the good with the bad.



This course covers many aspects of self sufficiency, including the following:

  • how to live with lower income
  • identification of essential and non-essential services offered by society
  • identification of services that one can be self sufficient with
  • identification of self skills that can aid in self sufficiency
  • skills that can be developed to assist in self sufficiency
  • identify needs, wants and likes; and the purpose of prioritising needs
  • identify items one can provide for oneself
  • development of cost efficient meals
  • identify purpose of fitness to self sufficiency
  • plan a food garden
  • identify crops plants most suited to a persons locality that assist in self sufficiency
  • use of bees hives, poultry and other animals for self sufficiency
  • estimating carrying capacity of a piece of land for animal stocking
  • importance of pasture
  • multipurpose animal stocking and their uses
  • energy alternative techniques such as wind, solar, water fire, etc.
  • reducing present energy usage
  • cloth and garment making processes
  • food preservation techniques
  • handicrafts techniques (eg candle making)
  • identifying criteria when planning to set up a self sufficient lifestyle in a new location
  • identifying criteria on how to improve self sufficiency in present location




This course may be used by some to kick start a new way of living; more sustainably, with less need to buy in everything you use, and a greater control over the production and characteristics of the food, energy, and other consumables that might be used in day to day living.
You may be moving toward self sufficiency as a matter of necessity; or perhaps out of a sense of need to healthier and more wholesome in your approach to life.

Others may find this course lays a foundation for providing services to others; developing a business that has self sufficiency at it's heart. 


Member of the International Herb Association since 1988

Alternative Technology Association Member

Member of the Permaculture Association

College Member of Complementary Medicine Association assessed to teach a range of areas including Counselling, Nutrition, Natural Therapies.

Course Contributors

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

Yvonne Sharpe

RHS Cert.Hort, Dip.Hort, M.Hort, Cert.Ed., Dip.Mgt. Over 30 years experience in business, education, management and horticulture. Former department head at a UK government vocational college. Yvonne has traveled widely within and beyond Europe, and has

Maggi Brown

Maggi is the classic UK "plantswoman". She can identify thousands of plants, and maintains her own homes and gardens in the Cotswolds (England), and near Beziers (in Southern France). Maggi is regarded as a leading organics expert across the UK, having w

Adriana Fraser (Horticulturist)

Adriana has worked in horticulture since the 1980's. She has lived what she preaches - developing large gardens and growing her own fruit, vegetables and herbs and making her own preserves.
In 1992 she formalised her training by graduating with a certif

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