The figure [cited by “Feral Farmer”] of 100 square miles per hunter-gatherer can’t be correct. North America covers an area of about 24,709,000 square kilometers (9,540,000 square miles). So, at 100 square mile per hunter gatherer, would only support 95,400 natives. Considering that large chunks of the Arctic and desert are minimal in their resources, not to mention Greenland, this figure (100 sq mi) can’t be correct.
Here are a couple of online references:
Agricultural practices and policies for carbon sequestration in soil By John M. Kimble, Rattan Lal, Ronald F. Follett
These suggest about 40-200 hectares (a hectare is a 100 meter square). This would allow 12 million to 60 million people for the continent, which is much more realistic.
Clearly, though, this is not an efficient way of feeding population, and [given the current population] would quickly lead to both starvation and stripping of resources. – Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog’s Editor at Large
If I might add a few comments to [Feral Farmer’s] letter. Living in a rural and now recreational area of Wisconsin I have noticed several things. Unemployment is becoming a very serious issue here. Many businesses are simply folding or moving away. It is mostly the small one to five person business’s that simply disappear. No big headlines, just quiet and slow.
1. Locals are fishing more than ever are putting up their Friday night fish fry in the freezer for future use. Friday night fish frys are almost religion here and have been for years. So if they cannot afford to go to the local bar for it, they will have the fixin’s at home. This means that City folks may not be eating so well if they come here, expecting to live off the land or lake as it were. Small game is the same thing.
2. Mr. Feral’s comment about taking 10 years to really know your land is so true. It cracks me up when I hear a city person ask: “What’s so tough about farming? You just dig up some dirt, dump some seeds in and get some food at the end of summer.” Yes, I have actually had that said to me. I have a field that is a bit lowland, and some what shaded by large pine trees. It was a pasture for the previous owner (perhaps for good reason). I have been trying for years to get a really good crop of anything off that field. The weeds seem to love it, but corn does not. This year we had a cold April, wet May and ups and downs in June. 90 for a couple of days and 60 the next. My corn refused to germinate. I view this particular field as a challenge and am determined to find a crop that will grow. I can do it because I have other very productive fields. My point is the same as Mr. Feral’s. You cannot simply expect food to grow because you think it should, because you
read a book. Thank, – Carl R.