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The Lean Farm

How to Minimize Waste, Increase Efficiency, and Maximize Value and Profits with Less Work

Categories:
Farm & Garden

A practical, systems-based approach for a more sustainable farming operation

To many people today, using the words “factory” and “farm” in the same sentence is nothing short of sacrilege. In many cases, though, the same sound business practices apply whether you are producing cars or carrots. Author Ben Hartman and other young farmers are increasingly finding that incorporating the best new ideas from business into their farming can drastically cut their wastes and increase their profits, making their farms more environmentally and economically sustainable. By explaining the lean system for identifying and eliminating waste and introducing efficiency in every aspect of the farm operation, The Lean Farm makes the case that small-scale farming can be an attractive career option for young people who are interested in growing food for their community. Working smarter, not harder, also prevents the kind of burnout that start-up farmers often encounter in the face of long, hard, backbreaking labor.

Lean principles grew out of the Japanese automotive industry, but they are now being followed on progressive farms around the world. Using examples from his own family’s one-acre community-supported farm in Indiana, Hartman clearly instructs other small farmers in how to incorporate lean practices in each step of their production chain, from starting a farm and harvesting crops to training employees and selling goods. While the intended audience for this book is small-scale farmers who are part of the growing local food movement, Hartman’s prescriptions for high-value, low-cost production apply to farms and businesses of almost any size or scale that hope to harness the power of lean in their production processes.

REVIEWS AND PRAISE

Booklist-

"The concept of ‘lean' manufacturing originally began during the 1980s in Japanese auto factories, such as those owned by Toyota, and it embraces a work ethic of eliminating as much waste as possible to give consumers the best value for their purchase. Using his own Clay Bottom Farm in Indiana as a proving ground, Hartman adapted this lean philosophy to support a thriving business, growing and selling enough specialty produce to support himself and his wife by harvesting only a single acre of land. In this lucidly written, well-organized guidebook, Hartman lays out the fundamentals of lean farming for any grower hoping to follow his example, from limiting materials and transportation needs to more efficiently using staff member talents. Along with many useful charts and photos, Hartman includes 10 case studies from his own farm, illustrating how trimming away unneeded practices led to big production gains. Although Hartman’s target audience here is organic, small-scale growers, anyone involved in a larger agribusiness owned operation will find his advice remarkably useful and ultimately very profitable.”

“Ben Hartman is diversified farming's Dean of Lean. He walks the talk, sharing insights on how lean principles helped his farm and how they can help yours. ‘Lean’ is the epitome of efficiency, an essential ingredient of any successful farm.”--Richard Wiswall, author of The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook

“With lean principles, what’s good for the farm is even better for the farmer. As we invite new farmers back to the land, into vacant lots, and onto rooftops, we have to give them the tools for success and the ability to sustain. ‘Lean farming’ won’t leave you trying to turn a farm into an automotive factory, but you will get a whiff of what it means when the rubber hits the road.”--Philip Ackerman-Leist, author of Rebuilding the Foodshed 

“Farming is not just a business, but it's still a business, and Hartman's application of Toyota's efficiency principles to the farm is nothing short of profound. As I read this fantastic book, my mind literally skipped from procedure to place on our farm with new ideas on how to create efficiencies. The Lean Farm should be dissected, digested, and discussed--then applied--on every single farm: big or small, wholesale or retail, livestock or produce. It would make all farms more profitable, productive, and pleasurable.”--Joel Salatin, owner of Polyface Farm, author of You Can Farm and Folks, This Ain't Normal

“Anyone who thinks lean is only for a factory should read this book. Ben Hartman, with simple but eloquent prose and delightful figures and photos, demonstrates how all aspects of lean can apply to farming, a process of growing and selling living things. The mysterious uniqueness of farming under constantly changing conditions became clear as Ben learned to understand his customers and his value streams to increase value and eliminate waste. And lean reinforced, rather then replaced, the strong social values of the Hartman farm.”--Jeffrey Liker, author of The Toyota Way

“Farmers are good at farming—it is what they enjoy doing! At the same time, planning, organizing, and working out everything most efficiently is often not done as easily. The Lean Farm will help us all easily increase flow, production, and income. It is a treasure trove of possibilities without the need for increased investment!”--John Jeavons, author of How to Grow More Vegetables, executive director of Ecology Action, and developer of sustainable, biologically intensive mini-farming

“If you want to see, right now, what food farming will look like in the coming years, this is the book for you. Using the kind of super-efficiency that new-age manufacturing has perfected, author Ben Hartman describes, in great detail and with superb illustrations, how he and his wife reduced their farm size from three acres to one and still make a decent living on it.”--Gene Logsdon, author, The Contrary Farmer

"We give every new employee a copy of Ben’s writing to study. Adopting lean principles has been critical for bringing organization, focus, and harmony to our 100-acre fully diversified vegetable farm. ‘A place for every thing, and every thing in its place’ is a refrain we repeat over and over."--Pete Johnson, organic farmer and owner of Pete’s Greens, Craftsbury, Vermont

“Clay Bottom Farm is a gem of a place in northern Indiana, where we are repeatedly told that you need a thousand acres to make a living as a farmer. Ben Hartman and his wife Rachel disprove this ‘conventional wisdom’ every day by managing a thriving farm business, not on a thousand acres, but on just one. In The Lean Farm, Ben explains how their elegant approach can be applied by anyone. His writing, like his farm, is clean, well organized, and easy to follow—but his ideas are revolutionary. The Lean Farm is one of the most original and innovative books on food and farming to come out in the last decade.”--Steve Hallett, Professor of Horticulture, Purdue University, and author of Life without Oil and The Efficiency Trap

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ben Hartman

Ben Hartman

Ben Hartman grew up on a corn and soybean farm in Indiana and graduated college with degrees in English and philosophy. Ben and his wife, Rachel Hershberger, own and operate Clay Bottom Farm in Goshen, Indiana, where they make their living growing and selling specialty crops on less than one acre. Their food is sold locally to restaurants and cafeterias, at a farmers market, and through a community-supported-agriculture (CSA) program. The farm has twice won Edible Michiana’s Reader’s Choice award. The Lean Farm, Ben’s first book, won the Shingo Institute’s prestigious Research and Professional Publication Award. In 2017, Ben was named one of fifty emerging green leaders in the United States by Grist.

CONNECT WITH THIS AUTHOR

Clay Bottom Farm Website
Clay Bottom Farm Facebook

AUTHOR EVENTS

November 01, 2017

Ben Hartman at the Focus on Farming Conference

Evergreen State Campground, Monroe, WA | Ben Hartman

See all Events by this Author

AUTHOR VIDEOS

The Lean Farm

A video introducing The Lean Farm, a book by Ben Hartman and published by Chelsea Green Publishing in 2015. The book tells the story of how Clay Bottom Farm used lean concepts to boost profits with less work and it describes how any farm can use the system.

Home Is Where the Farm Is

The "farm-to-table" dining experience is thought to be the best way to eat fresh food. Ben Hartman and Rachel Hershberger, owners of Clay Bottom Farm, believe that cutting out the table and going straight to the farm is even better. Get the inside look of local food in this Goshen Common's feature story.

The Lean Farm

Pages:256 pages
Book Art:Full-color photographs and illustrations throughout
Size: 7 x 10 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781603585927
Pub. Date September 16, 2015

Available In/Retail Price

Paperback, 256 pages, $29.95