Every time I start a city I run into food issues very quickly. Even when I got like 10 or 15 population with 3 fishing places and a hunters hut producing thousands of units of food.

What is a good tactic to go for first when starting out to get a good food supply going at the beginning?

  • I had a similiar problem, and I think it has because I ran out of storage. Did you build a storage barn to replace your cart?
    – Wipqozn
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 22:50
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    Are people actually starving? Because resources (including food) stored in a persons home aren't recorded towards your total number of resources you see in the "General Statistics" window.
    – Wipqozn
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 22:56
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    @Wipqozn People be starvin', yo. I've just had another five deaths from starvation. Three crop fields, an orchard, two fishing docks, a hunting cabin. All in all, I get around 2.3k food per season for 20+10 people. It's gone within seconds. (Even from their homes. They just gobble it up.)
    – user98085
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 22:57
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    I just tried to make food only places nothing else. Still. people dying of starvation. :(
    – Piotr Kula
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 23:21
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    There was a simple line image chart advising you on how to place your starting town on reddit, and I just can't find it. Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 4:58

6 Answers 6


I suggest you watch some Let's Plays to get started.

Here are some quick tips though:

  1. Search for a nearby forest and build a gatherer and a forester, gatherers produce a lot of food and the foresters will make the forest denser, giving more food.

  2. Build houses close to the jobs, it will save travel time and this enhancing production.

  3. After you get the gatherer, build a hunters cabin, and if the size of the forest allows it, repeat step one out of the radius of the first gatherers hut collection zone. I don't know a lot about fishing, but i think a hunters cabin is better because you get leather from hunting

  4. if you are playing on easy and medium, don't start with crops, if you get an early winter you aren't going to survive.

  5. Take care that you never run out of tools.

I have a town of around 600 people now, doing amazing. The problem I'm having now is that my jobs are not equally spread, so some people have to walk so far they die of hunger on their way to their jobs, true dedication!

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    It is also worth slowing down the game and micro managing. Early in the game remove people from places that don't need to be occupied. Like stock pile wood in summer early, then remove the guy and use him somewhere else. Coat makers need to work half a summer for enough clothes for 3-4 years. I made 2 gathering places and forester pretty close to town and very soon I got 3k excess food without farms.I started to educate kids and efficiency doubled! I could half the people at the original places and build mines. Be carefull. Mines decrease happines in nearby house. I am year 15 now :)
    – Piotr Kula
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 22:47
  • Yea micro manage. Making tools is easy, wood(not even firewood) and some iron. When you made enough firewood put that guy to make tools like, 75 in stockpile(that lasts 3-4 years for a pop of ~20)
    – Piotr Kula
    Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 16:16
  • Also make a herbalist in your wilderness camp, keeping your sims healthy is a huge productivity boost.
    – Blindy
    Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 19:26
  • Don't let your blacksmith and houses burn down either, you will run out of tools. Commented Feb 22, 2014 at 5:04
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    Got to 290 citizens. Then I ran out of tools and nothing could be done any more, people starved to death and everything imploded. Awesome :)
    – Piotr Kula
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 20:58

During the first years, a gatherer hut in a forest is an efficient, low-maintenance and reliable source of food. They also produce four different kinds of food (berries, onions, roots and mushrooms) which is great for food variety. Their drawback is that they require a large forest area, so supplying a large population primarily with gatherers will soon cause you to run out of space.

Hunters require forest areas like gatherers, but only generate about half as much food. You might still want to have a few hunters because they also produce leather which can be used to make clothing (the other sources of clothing material - sheep and cattle - might not be available yet). It is not required to man each hunters lodge with 3 people. A single hunter is usually enough to decimate the animals which spawn in its vicinity.

The most space-efficient food source are fishers. They only need a small building at a river or lake. Do not place them right next to each other, because this reduces their output. But you are free to use the space between them for other buildings. Fishers are also low-maintenance and reliable, but they unfortunately don't have a high yield per worker compared to other food sources.

Pastures with livestock require a large area and have a setup time of several years until the herd has grown large enough that it produces food. But they are maintenance-free (except for the annoying habit to develop infestations from time to time, requiring you to transfer the herd to a new pasture before they all die), only require a very small amount of workers and when they finally reach the maximum animal population they produce even a bit more food than farms. Pastures can also be used as an emergency food source. When you set the amount of animals per pasture to a lower amount than you currently have, all excess animals will be butchered as soon as possible. Unfortunately this throws you back quite a lot in building up a sustainable meat industry. For further reading I recommend the question "Which livestock is the most efficient food source?"

When it comes to supplying a large population, you won't get around using farms and orchards. But these are unfortunately the least reliable food source. A short summer can mean that you lose a large part of your harvest, which can lead to a famine, which is often the beginning of the end of your village. Also, farming requires a lot of workers when you want it to be low-maintenance. Technically you only need the workers in spring (for seeding) and autumn (for harvest). Farmers will automatically act as laborers during winter so they do at least something productive, but in the summer they will just poke around the fields which does absolutely nothing for crop growth.

You could, of course, assign your farmers to other jobs during summer and winter. But this is dangerous, because you risk forgetting to assign them back when it's time for field-work. That means there is an additional risk of losing a harvest because of your own negligence.

Orchards have the advantage over farms that they only need workers for harvest, not for seeding. Trees only need to be planted once and then live for several years. That's a job even a single worker can do. But orchards have a setup time of several years until the trees will start to carry fruit. Also, after a few years the first trees will die and need to be replaced by young saplings, which will reduce the food output of the orchard. Even when all trees are in the food-carrying age, the output of an orchard will be slightly less than that of a farm.

By the way: Changing type of fruit only affects the saplings being planted. Any existing trees won't get replaced. So with a bit of micro-management you can create mixed orchards with many different kinds of trees.

Bottom line: Do not put all of your eggs in one basket. A good village should make use of many different food sources. That not just improves food variety and thus overall health, it also balances risk, labor requirement and space requirement of the different food sources against each other.

But the most important thing to avoid starvation is to always have an emergency stockpile of food. Every citizen (adult, student and child) consumes about 100 units of food per year. Food does not perish, so there is no reason not to store a lot of it. Make sure that your food stockpile is at least citizens * 100 units (stockpile for one year), so you have no starvation even when you completely screw up a years harvest. Should it ever get lower, even when just for a moment, build more food sources!

  • Very good answer. I didn't realise hunters were that inefficient but yes. the leather is very helpful to keep ppl warm. Farms are just a nightmare.
    – Piotr Kula
    Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 14:02
  • So for 300 citizens I need to stockpile at least 30k food at all times to be safe :) Makes sense.
    – Piotr Kula
    Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 14:06
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    @ppumkin When you already have 300 citizens, your village has become so large that you don't just need to care about the amount of food but also that it is available to all citizens. Thousands of units of food stored at one end of the city don't do a thing when citizens starve to death while walking there from the other. But that's another problem for another question.
    – Philipp
    Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 14:21
  • 300 is just halfway to the first population achievement (in drm free) I got here and ppl died because I ran out of tools, then food.
    – Piotr Kula
    Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 14:30
  • @ppumkin Running out of tools is indeed a problem which is much more serious than it seems at first. It not just cripples the food production, it also cripples the tool production chain itself, so it's hard to get out of. This negative feedback loop has lead to the downfall of more than one of my villages. But that's a different topic than this question.
    – Philipp
    Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 14:37

Best town ive built, still working on it but it has over 50 people and its year 22. Build foresters to make dense forests and put gatherers, hunters, and herbalists next to them. Set the foresters to cut and plant that way u still get fire wood from those locations but u also have enough forest dor gathering and hunting. Clear out all rocks too cuz the forest wont grow in those areas if u dont and u want the forest as dense as possible. Place towns close to jobs and add a school for production increases. Fishing huts also help for food. Once u have a stable population of 50 to 60 u can start to add crop fields, mining, and cattle but slowly. Going too fast in this game will ruin u. Managing your population growth is extremely important. I build new houses when i have atleast 2 people of 12 to 15 years old


Certain houses will hoard food, build a market to have food distributed more evenly. Make sure your houses fall within the circle.


My town has 77 inhabitants and its been going strong for over 20 years. I started by building 4 maximum size crop fields. I put 2 workers in each field, and planted corn on two, and peppers on two.

A few minutes later, I noticed that a few people were starving, so I made a fishing dock and employed 4 people there.

I lost 4 people to starvation my first winter. The second winter I had thousands in surplus corn and peppers. At present I have 4 storage barns and I cap my food production at 16000.

In my experience, hunters and gatherers can help to create a diverse food supply, but they're not the primary source for foodstuffs. Farms are the best for feeding a large population.

With that said, you'll still need Gatherers and Hunters (otherwise you won't have leather for coats, and your people will suffer from malnutrition.)

TL;DR: Build farms.

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    Yea i got 150 pop now. Till about 80 I was just using 3 gatherers, 2 fishers and 2 hunters. Then I started trading for crops. Potatoes and corn have good yields.
    – Piotr Kula
    Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 23:10
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    Farms can be dangerous because if the farmers are away during planting or harvesting, you can miss a year. Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 8:05
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    Sorry for downvoting, but this is more of an experience report than an answer.
    – Philipp
    Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 14:24

Don't know where you get the idea hunters don't produce food. each of my hunter cabins produces in excess of 1K venison per season, FAR more than enough to feed them, far better on average than fishers who produce about 7oo units per season. Best way I've found to manage hunters/gatherers/herbalists is to match them up with 2 foresters (1 set to plant only) a barn and a stock pile. But like many others I seem to be having trouble with my populace taking homes far from work places, or simply going for random walks to somewhere they should not be. For example I recently found a fisherman on the far of the map from the water, in a place where no homes where located, nor any other building for that matter. This is why I came here, looking for a way to stop this errant "gone walkabout" behaviour.

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