The original homesteaders, the pioneers who went West, were following the American dream as it was understood in the 19th century -- they wanted a house, and land, and a farm, of their own. Those who become homesteaders today aren't necessarily aspirational in the same way; instead, they're looking to escape mainstream America. They want to do so for many reasons: privacy, radicalism, a philosophical belief in self-sufficiency.
But "going off the grid" is a daunting proposal, especially for those with families. Non-homesteaders rely on others for virtually everything; not just our haircuts, but our electricity and our eggs. It's hard enough to figure out the right amount of groceries to buy for a week. Figuring out how many crops to plant to feed a family of four is exponentially more daunting. There are plenty of resources to help -- message boards, how-tos. And here's one more, aesthetically pleasing resource from solar panel discount company One Block Off the Grid: a useful chart illustrating the land requirements for a family of four seeking nutritional and electronic self-sufficiency.
According to the company's research, a family of four that eats meat, dairy and eggs would need around two acres of land to feed themselves for a year. Ready to try it yourself, but short on land? A 2.9-acre plot of land in South-Central Alaska is available from the State for as little as $2400, payable by MasterCard or Visa. (NOTE: HuffPost Food refuses blame for anyone who tries to live off the produce they can grow in the Alaskan climate.)
Here's the chart.