Learn to grow, harvest and preserve food at home on a small or large scale. Save money, sell or share fruit, vegetables, and eggs.

Course Code: ASS101
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Learn to be Self Sufficient at Home

  • Grow your own food
  • Learn  how to preserve food to extend the shelf life
  • Provide for your food needs over extended periods, across the whole year 
When you know what to grow, how to grow it, how much to grow, and what to do with it after harvest; you then have a much improved capacity to save money, and provide healthier and more appropriate food for your family; all year long.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Diet and Nutrition
    • introduction to good health
    • basic nutrition
    • food allergies
    • food combining
    • a well balanced diet.
  2. Establishing a Kitchen Garden
    • deciding food plants that can be grown in your garden,
    • designing a productive garden.
  3. Vegetables
    • easy to grow vegetables,
    • long cropping vegetables
    • culture for specific types of vegetables.
  4. Fruit
    • cultural techniques for different types of fruits & berries
    • cross pollination
  5. Bottling
    • equipment & techniques for jelly/jam making
    • bottling.
  6. Freezing and Drying
    • harvesting and preserving techniques
    • freezing
    • drying
  7. Producing Milk & Eggs
    • milk from cows, sheep & goats
    • developing an egg production system
    • making cheese and yoghurt.
  8. Growing & Cooking with Herbs
    • selection and cultivation of culinary herbs
    • drying herbs
    • recipes for cooking with herbs.
  9. Egg and Cheese Cookery
    • storage and use of eggs & cheese
    • distinguishing different types of cheese, cooking with eggs & cheese.
  10. Grain
    • growing sprouts
    • cereals
    • baking bread, etc.

What You Will Do

  • 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.
  • 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. Consider such things as produce per unit area, time for maturing, susceptibility to pest and disease
  • 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. List the number of plants which you feel would be needed for type of fruit.
  • Bottle something which you have never bottled before. Explain step by step the procedure you follow. Indicate the equipment you have used in your bottling.
  • List all of those foods which you feel would be worthwhile freezing, which are able to be grown by you on your property

Using Preservatives to Extend the Shelf Life of Food

Food preservatives are added to foods to serve a specific function. Preservatives may be used to retain the nutritional value of a food or to limit the action of microbes and subsequent food spoilage e.g. by maintaining the colour and flavour of food. Typically food preservatives attack the enzymes in microbes stopping them from catalysing reactions in food, or attack the cell wall of a microbe preventing its growth and reproduction.
Some preservatives are naturally present in foods, while others are added to foods either because they are not naturally present in the food, or because they are only present in small quantities.
Common preservatives include salt (sodium chloride), sugar and acid (eg. citrus juice). Supermarket foods are often treated with artificial chemical preservatives (eg. sulphates and nitrates), which are not particularly good to eat. There are other natural preservatives that can also be used; such as:
Rosemary Extract
Rosemary is extracted through the distillation of rosemary leaves. It is used to provide a distinctive flavour and aroma to foods and also acts as an antioxidant in foods, helping to prevent the oxidation of the constituents of a food and preserve characteristics such as the colour and flavour of the food.
Oils and spices
Oils and spices are used as preservatives e.g. in the preservation of pickles. Oil acts as a protective cover preventing contact between microorganisms and food and protecting food from contact with air - protecting it from oxidation. Herbs and spices also have a long history as preservatives. Spices that have proved particularly useful in food preservation include mustard, sage, oregano and cloves. The benefits of these spices may be due to their antioxidant properties, some spices also retard the growth of microorganisms.
Consists of two sugar molecules - fructose and glucose - and has a similar sweetness to sugar. Like sugar, honey has a very long history in food preservation particularly in the preservation of fruit, nuts and meat. Honey assists food preservation due to the fact that it has very low moisture content, a low pH value and because honey contains natural preservatives - enzymes added to nectar by bees promotes the production of hydrogen peroxide which has preservative functions.
As with sugar, the value of honey in food preservation is also dependent on protecting a preserved product from additional water as exposure to water will allow the development of yeast and moulds.
Alcohol is used as an ingredient in a range of food preservation techniques including in pickling and the production of jams and jellies. Alcohol is also used in the preservation of a variety of fruits such as plums, peaches and cherries. Alcohol is a potent inhibitor of microorganisms and kills bacteria and viruses at high concentrations.
Ascorbic Acid
Ascorbic acid (or Vitamin C) is another natural preserving substance. Ascorbic Acid is an anti-oxidant, so neutralises oxygen that comes into contact with the food, slowing the growth of microorganisms and the rate of decay of the food. Ascorbic Acid can be used in canned vegetables, bottled fruit, jams, and other fruit preserves.

Find Out More about Self Sufficiency -Talk with one of our Academic Staff.

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; author of more than 70 books and edito

Rosemary Davies (Horticulturist)

Rosemary trained in Horticulture at Melbourne Universities Burnley campus; studying all aspects of horticulture -vegetable and fruit production, landscaping, amenity, turf, aboriculture and the horticultural sciences.
Initially she worked with the Depart

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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