|This article is about an older version of DF.|
In large fortresses, farming is the most compact way of producing food. Some early forts can subsist with herbalists collecting plants from shrubs outside, but doing so is insufficient to support large populations.
See the article on crops for details on the conditions needed to grow the available plants.
Building the farm plot
Farm plots must be built on a suitable location and require a dwarf with the farming (fields) labor enabled to prepare.
To place a farm plot, enter the uild menu and select farm lots. Use the / and / keys to adjust the width and height of the plot. When the plot is the desired size, and in the right position, pressing will place it. A free dwarf with the farming (fields) labor enabled should then start clearing out any rubble or other impediments away from the farm plot. Tower-caps inside the plotted area must be cleared by a wood cutter before you lay it out or that tile will be skipped.
When Winter comes, all farm plots will disappear and the mud will dry up, so every Spring they will need to be re-irrigated and rebuilt.
A 5x5 plot should be enough to feed a starting fortress; 5x10 should be enough to feed a full fortress. Make sure to have at least one dedicated grower, as planting skill significantly impacts output. Much smaller plots can serve smaller forts, and if you supplement them with plant gathering, hunting, fishing, or trading they can become smaller to the point of non-existence.
Try to leave a little extra space in underground farm rooms for farmers to stack spare boulders. Stones that get moved under doors in a farm will keep them open, causing flooding problems if you need to irrigate.