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Self Sufficiency I

Course CodeASS100
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Distance Learning Course in Self Sufficiency

What is Self-Sufficiency all about then?

Modern society is complex. It relies on a massive network of interrelationships between individuals and groups. Each part of society supports other parts. To live in modern society you need to be in a niche contributing to the system and in return the system supports you.

This does have advantages:

  • It allows for efficiencies of scale (i.e. when something is made in large quantities, it can be produced more efficiently).
  • It allows for specialised development of skills (i.e. if a person is able to concentrate on one job they can become more proficient at that job).
  • It also buffers the effect of a mistake (i.e. if someone has an accident, the system supports the person until they recover ‑ through an insurance scheme or government welfare where the expense of the accident is effectively shared by many).

Self-sufficiency means taking a step back from this and living a way of life where you provide for yourself, or for you and your family - this can cover some or all aspects of your life, depending upon how self-sufficient you are looking to be.  Elements include:

  • Growing your own vegetables, fruits, herbs and other grown produce.
  • Keeping animals such as chickens, goats, sheep, or bees to provide eggs, meat, milk, and honey.
  • Learning to produce building materials.
  • Creating your own energy sources.
  • Developing craft making skills.
  • Learning how to repair, reuse or extend the life of clothing, building, tools etc.

Study self-sufficiency with ACS -

  • Understand the scope of self-sufficiency and determine which society based services are essential and non-essential to you.
  • Improve your knowledge of nutrition and health.
  • Learn about planning a food garden, identifying and growing crops suited to your area.
  • Learn about keeping animals and understand the areas of land required and managing pasture.
  • Learn how to reduce energy consumption and ways of providing your own energy.
  • Learn about using tools and materials.
  • Understand decision making processes and how to prepare for emergencies.

"Self sufficiency is gaining renewed and wide interest as self-reliance and sustainability become the key to the future world.”
Adriana Fraser Cert.Hort., Cert.Child Care, Adv.Cert.App.Mgt., Cert IV Assessment and Training, Adv.Dip.Hort., ACS Tutor.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Understanding the possibilities
  2. Health, Nutrition and Clothing
  3. Horticulture - Fruit and Vegetables
  4. Horticulture - Herbs
  5. Animal Husbandry - Poultry and Bees
  6. Animal Husbandry - Grazing Animals and Pigs
  7. Building - Earth and Mud Buildings
  8. Appropriate Technology/Alternative energy
  9. Craft & Country Skills
  10. Making Decisions - Small Scale Production, How To Make Decisions.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • 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.
  • Analyse potential changes in lifestyle to increase a person’s level of self-sufficiency.

What You Will Do

  • Identify essential and non-essential services offered by society.
  • Identify services that one can be self-sufficient with.
  • Identify self skills that can aid in self-sufficiency
  • Obtain 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.
  • Develop 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.
  • Explain the use of bees hives, poultry and other animals for self-sufficiency.
  • Estimate carrying capacity of a piece of land for animal stocking.
  • Describe multipurpose animal stocking and their uses.
  • Consider energy alternative techniques such as wind, solar, water fire, etc.
  • Reduce present energy usage.
  • Candle making.
  • Cloth and garment making processes.
  • Practice food preservation techniques.
  • Practice handicraft techniques.
  • Identify criteria when planning to set up a self-sufficient lifestyle in a new location.
  • Identify criteria on how to improve self-sufficiency in present location.

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 (e.g. 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 a way of living often adopted by those interested in self sufficiency; although this does not strictly fall in line with a true self sufficient life-style, the barter system helps by removing (mostly) dependence on the monetary system.
  • The concept of a system that is self-perpetuating, working within the cycles of nature is often part of the self-sufficient ideal. The concepts of permaculture, companion planting and alternative medicine all become part of that ideal, seeking to establish a self-supporting system both economically and environmentally.

What is needed to make a successful change?

Firstly In order to make the change from a reliant to a self-reliant way of living, a trade needs to be made: money for time. People who do successfully make the change often have a feeling of empowerment; they have reduced their reliance on purchased goods, finding that they really can live without the so called ‘trappings of modern society.’ Some have a sense of freedom; a narrowing of choice requires less energy. This time and energy must then be used to build, grow, sew, cook and so on in order to supply basic daily needs that were previously supplied by the money earned.

Once people realise they can trade money for time they need to consider their approach to everyday life; evaluate their real needs as opposed to their perceived needs. You may need to compromise to achieve a balance between the things you would like to have and the things you are able to provide yourself with. A self sufficient lifestyle might make you less dependent on society, but this might only be possible at the expense of giving up luxuries.

A good place to start is to look at and answer the following questions:

  • What can you live without?
  • What can’t you live without?
  • How far do you want to go in being self-sufficient?
  • What knowledge and skills do you have i.e. practical, management, budgeting and organisational?
  • What skills do you need?
  • Have you considered how much life will really change?
  • Do you understand the physical work involved?
  • Are you fit enough both mentally and physically?
  • Are you prepared to compromise?

On a practical level make up a list of all the goods and services you get from modern society such as, doctors, chemist (medicines), cleaning aids, meat, vegetables, cereals, clothing, and electric heating and so on. Then go through the list and note the goods and services that you think you could supply for yourself and also those you could not. Then have another look at the list and note all the skills that you already have and those that you will need in order to supply these goods yourself. From this you will gain a fair idea of where your skills and skills shortages are.

Enrol Today!

This course can be started when you like and completed at your own pace.  It is studied by distance learning - you can study in the comfort of your own home and apply principles of self-sufficiency that you learn as you progress through the course.  If you have any questions or want to know more, get in touch with our expert tutors today - they will be pleased to hear from you!

Meet some of our academics

Diana Cole B.A. (Hons), Dip. Horticulture, BTEC Dip. Garden Design, Diploma Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Life Long Learning Sector), P.D.C. In addition to the qualifications listed above, Diana holds City & Guild construction qualifications and an NPTC pesticide spraying licence (PA1/PA6). Diana runs her own landscape gardening business (Arbella Gardens). Active in many organisations including the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers.
Yvonne SharpeRHS 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 worked in many areas of horticulture from garden centres to horticultural therapy. She has served on industry committees and been actively involved with amateur garden clubs for decades.
Christine ToddUniversity lecturer, businesswoman, photographer, consultant and sustainability expert; with over 40 years industry experience B.A., M.Plan.Prac., M.A.(Social). An expert in planning, with years of practical experience in permaculture.
Bob JamesHorticulturalist, Agriculturalist, Environmental consultant, Businessman and Professional Writer. Over 40 years in industry, Bob has held a wide variety of senior positions in both government and private enterprise. Bob has a Dip. Animal Husb, B.App.Sc., Grad.Dip.Mgt, PDC

Check out our eBooks

Food PreservingIdeal for students of nutrition, self sufficiency or horticulture, the food preservation ebook is a great introduction to preserving food.
PoultryPoultry are entertaining as pets and life sustaining as a commercial product! Whether you are seeking a book as a beginner poultry keeper or if you are embarking on a new career in poultry production or management, this book is for you. Easy to read, easy to understand and packed with easy to implement practical advice. Know how to care for the health and wellbeing of poultry and make production a commercially viable enterprise.
Organic GardeningCreate a healthy, well-balanced garden. Attract abundant beneficial insects to pollinate your plants. Have healthy, fertile, organic soils teeming with life. Use this book as a guide to establish lush gardens laden with fruit, vegetables, herbs and ornamentals - without the use of chemicals. The ebook covers: soils and nutrition, pest and disease, natural weed control, conservation and recycling. 179 pages, 170 colour photos
Fruit, Vegetables and HerbsHome grown produce somehow has a special quality. Some say it tastes better, others believe it is just healthier. And there is no doubt it is cheaper! Watching plants grow from seed to harvest and knowing that the armful of vegies and herbs you have just gathered for the evening meal will be on the table within an hour or two of harvest, can be an exciting and satisfying experience.