Qualification - Certificate In Self Sufficiency

Course CodeASS102
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)600 hours


A unique certificate to undertake in preparation for a change in the way you live; or perhaps in preparation for establishing a business or career providing services to the community in this discipline. The course comprises of two core self sufficiency modules and then a choice of four electives.

To complete the certificate you must successfully complete all assignments and pass exams in each of six modules as follows:

Compulsory Modules:

  • Self Sufficiency I
  • Self Sufficiency II

Elective Modules

Any four of the following electives:

  • Alternative Energy
  • Mud Brick Construction
  • Permaculture Systems (gain a Permaculture Design Certificate)
  • Advanced Permaculture
  • Sustainable agriculture
  • Poultry
  • Organic Plant Culture
  • Herb Culture

Compulsory Modules:

Self Sufficiency I covers ten lessons which develop your understanding of self sufficiency, food and nutrition, and making the right decisions about changes in lifestyle; as well as showing you how to do a whole range of practical things such as mud brick building, making crafts, growing fruit, vegetables, herbs, and other crops; raising poultry, sheep & goats, extending the life of clothing, conserving energy, recycling, simple home medical care and first aid, and lots more.

In Self Sufficiency II you learn to be self sufficient with your food. You learn about nutrition and how to balance your diet, as well as how to produce, process, store, and use different types of food. This includes berries, nuts, milk, cheese, eggs, bread making, preserves, & dried food. Cooking, freezing, drying, bottling, making bread, planning a vegetable garden to give produce all year round, and lots more are covered over ten lessons.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Qualification - Certificate In Self Sufficiency.
 Self Sufficiency I ASS100
 Self Sufficiency II ASS101
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 6 of the following 7 modules.
 Alternative Energy VSS102
 Herb Culture BHT114
 Mudbrick Construction ASS103
 Permaculture Systems BHT201
 Advanced Permaculture BHT301
 Food Processing and Technology BSS301
 Organic Plant Culture BHT302

Note that each module in the Qualification - Certificate In Self Sufficiency is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.


Being self sufficient starts with choosing what to grow, then knowing how to process and store supplementary produce so it is available all year round.

Different types of plants do require different conditions. Some need better drainage, others may tolerate poor drainage and even very moist conditions. Knowing the alternatives and their soil and environmental needs is key to moving toward greater self sufficiency.

Consider Tomatoes

In very warm climates and inside greenhouses, tomatoes can be grown throughout the year. In temperate to cool regions they die off in the autumn or winter. Tomatoes are always grown from seed.

Whether for outdoors or greenhouses, tomatoes are best grown in pots to begin with. You can plant seeds at the end of winter. Move seedlings under cover at night or start them off in a cold frame. If seedlings are exposed to cold early on it will retard growth, and those planted later in spring will soon overtake them.  

Tomatoes grow best in a slightly acidic rich soil. The optimum soil pH level is 5.8 - 6.0. They use nitrogen in the early stages of growth so prepare beds beforehand by digging in some well-rotted animal manures and pelletised fertilisers. A sprinkling of rock minerals and potash is also helpful because they use plenty of potassium. Once established don't feed with nitrogen because you'll encourage leafy growth at the expense of fruit.   

You should never grow them in the same soil two years running because soil-borne pests and diseases build up. Instead rotate beds. Preferably have three veggie beds so they are only grown in the same spot every third year. Avoid growing other members of the potato family in the bed, too.

The minimum daytime temperature for growing tomatoes is 18°C and maximum 27°C. Plants may survive outside of this temperature range but are unlikely to perform very well at all. At temperatures below 12°C, most tomato cultivars will decline in health.
Most cultivars need a growing season of 14 weeks (i.e. 14 weeks between 18°C and 27°C.  In climates where that is difficult, some attention may need to be paid to extending the season by cooling or warming the plants for a period.  In colder temperate climates for instance; plants may be grown in a greenhouse; or at least grown for the early part of their life in a greenhouse.

Whilst tomatoes enjoy a sunny position in temperate climates, they need shade form harsh sun in the middle of the day. Very strong sunlight can cause wilting and burning of fruit and foliage. Shade cloth is recommended under these conditions. Tomatoes also need protection from strong winds which can damage stems and flowers.     

Seedlings will flower after about 4-6 weeks. Tomatoes are insect pollinated. Under glass you may need to shake plants to distribute pollen, or brush flowers with a small paintbrush. Air from fans will also work.  Once you see the first fruit form apply a specially formulated tomato fertiliser and continue to do this fortnightly, or as recommended. For a continuous fruit supply, try growing some late and early cropping varieties together. 

Soil needs to be kept moist; never too wet or too dry. Big fluctuations in soil moisture can prompt diseases, as can too much or too little moisture. Feel the soil daily, particularly in hot ow windy weather. Water when soil feels dry. Never water when it is soggy. Always water the soil; never the foliage or fruits. Water and sunlight on ripe fruits can cause them to split.

Planting distance will depend on variety. Taller varieties should be at least 50-60cm apart, smaller ones 30-40 cm apart in rows. Rows should be at least 90cm apart.

If you follow these tips you can avoid most of the tomato diseases and encourage strong plants which are less susceptible to damage from insect attacks. 



Consider How to Freeze Your Own Food

Freezing is the fastest and most economical way of preserving food it is also very easy as long as you follow a few guidelines for specific produce. You should endeavour to freeze food as quickly as possible so the best type of freezer for home food storage is the deep freeze, not the small frozen food type compartments as the temperature in these is not adequately cold enough to keep food for long periods of time. The equipment required for home freezing is very similar to that for preserving and bottling. The hard work will be taken out of the process if you also have access to an electric blender, food mills and shredder and choppers and an air extractor. However these are not essential.  Freezer bags, tapes, suitable plastic containers, labels and a water proof are. 
General procedure:
  1. Pack food in airtight containers such as plastic freezer bags or plastic containers.
  2. Before sealing the container, remove as much air as possible.
  3. Write the date of processing on the container. Most frozen vegetables can be kept up to 8 months in a standard home freezer.
  4. When you put the container into the refrigerator, place it as close as possible to where the refrigerant circulates. This is the coldest part and is where freezing will be fastest. Leave a small air gap between containers when first freezing. This increases the rate of freezing. You might turn the freezer up to high when first freezing then turn it back later. Avoid too frequent opening of freezer door when a new batch of vegetables is being stored.
Some people suggest that vegetables should be blanched before freezing. Blanching is a process of cooking or part cooking. Some people believe it reduces the pungency of certain strong flavoured vegetables (e.g. cabbage or onions) while others believe it is necessary for the freezing process.
How to blanch vegetables
  1. Put prepared vegetable into 1 to 2 litres of boiling water or steam it for several minutes.
  2. Plunge the vegetable into iced water to rapidly cool. These extremes of temperature are said to kill harmful bacteria and keep the vegetable fresh.
  3. Allow to dry thoroughly before placing in freezer bags.
General Guidelines
  • The freezer should be set to its coldest setting about 12 hours before adding new unfrozen produce. This helps to prevent formation of ice crystals on the food. The faster you freeze your food the better as it is helps to retain flavour and colour. 
  • Only freeze top quality fresh produce
  • Some foods do not freeze well and these should be preserved by other methods: cucumbers, celery, cabbage, lettuce, potatoes, tomatoes (unless they have been cooked and pureed) and most greens other then spinach, kale, and similar.
  • Quick freeze produce as quickly as possible
  • Handle produce as little as possible
  • Keep food to be processed in the refrigerator
  • Freeze in meal sized portions
  • Package well to prevent freezer burn and try to eliminate as much air as possible from the freezer bags
  • Label and date produce
  • Put newly processed food in the back of the freezer or on a different shelf to unused frozen produce.
  • Used those with the earliest date first
  • Make sure the rims of containers are wiped clean with a clean cloth before placing lids into position
  • Leave around 2.5cm space around packages
  • Leave a 1.5mm head space in containers to accommodate expansion
  • If you experience a power failure do not open the freezer door, a full freezer will retain its temperature for around two days. However the less you have in your freezer the quicker it will start to defrost. Do not take any chances with thawed produce it is better to throw out food if you are not sure rather then risk illness through contaminated food.
  • Only defrost food before cooking if necessary; ie. most vegetables are cooked from their frozen state. Meat and full meals should be defrosted in the refrigerator. 


  • Make better selections of what foods to grow
  • Make better choices about where and how to grow produce
  • Make better choices about how to harvest, process and store different produce

More from ACS