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The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables

More In-Depth Lean Techniques for Efficient Organic Production

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Farm & Garden

At Clay Bottom Farm, author Ben Hartman and staff practice kaizen, or continuous improvement, cutting out more waste—of time, labor, space, money, and more—every year and aligning their organic production more tightly with customer demand. Applied alongside other lean principles originally developed by the Japanese auto industry, the end result has been increased profits and less work.

In this field-guide companion to his award-winning first book, The Lean Farm, Hartman shows market vegetable growers in even more detail how Clay Bottom Farm implements lean thinking in every area of their work, including using kanbans, or replacement signals, to maximize land use; germination chambers to reduce defect waste; and right-sized machinery to save money and labor and increase efficiency. From finding land and assessing infrastructure needs to selling perfect produce at the farmers market, The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables digs deeper into specific, tested methods for waste-free farming that not only help farmers become more successful but make the work more enjoyable. These methods include:

  • Using Japanese paper pot transplanters
  • Building your own germinating chambers
  • Leaning up your greenhouse
  • Making and applying simple composts
  • Using lean techniques for pest and weed control
  • Creating Heijunka, or load-leveling calendars for efficient planning

Farming is not static, and improvement requires constant change. The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables offers strategies for farmers to stay flexible and profitable even in the face of changing weather and markets. Much more than a simple exercise in cost-cutting, lean farming is about growing better, not cheaper, food—the food your customers want.

REVIEWS AND PRAISE

“Ben Hartman and I share similar approaches to growing vegetables; we both run highly productive farms using efficient techniques and well-designed space and procedures. With this book, however, I believe Ben has taken our craft to new levels with fresh ideas and different strategies. The information here provides incredible value for any small-scale farmer seeking a compact, yet profitable farm model. I highly recommend this book.”—Jean-Martin Fortier, author of The Market Gardener

“All revolutions require a leap in consciousness plus a set of daily practices to sustain and gain the full benefits of the new consciousness. Ben Hartman is that rare person who could describe the lean farming revolution (in The Lean Farm) and then provide proven practices from his own farm in his new book, The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables, to help fellow revolutionaries grow good food in a lean way for the long term. Together these volumes describe all you need to know for a sustainable lean revolution on your farm. The rest is up to you.”—Jim Womack, founder and senior advisor, Lean Enterprise Institute

“This manual of growing follows the lean principles of Ben and Rachel’s farm, its pages are jam-packed with useful advice for efficient organic growing. ‘Lean’ is a great paradigm for directing your time and energy into a fully effective approach, whether in a large garden or small farm. I was fascinated to read all the examples of seeding, planting, and harvesting, and the gorgeous photos show the high productiveness of these methods.”—Charles Dowding, coauthor of No Dig Organic Home & Garden 

“Everyone strives for efficiency in vegetable farming, but Ben Hartman has actually achieved it. In his lean farming books, he provides a clear-headed approach to achieving efficiency of space, time, and resources. Every vegetable farmer who wants to be profitable and enjoy the farming life would do well to read these books closely.”—Lynn Byczynski, author of Market Farming Success and The Flower Farmer

“Ben Hartman is a true innovator for the small farm. The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables takes the lean techniques from his first book even further with new innovations and greater detail. I have been eagerly awaiting this addendum so that I can start trying these practices on my farm. This book is a must for any market grower who wants to push the boundaries of profitability while finding life balance at the same time.”—Curtis Stone, author of The Urban Farmer

“Ben Hartman clearly illustrates how the continual process of lean thinking can benefit every farm. From targeted market planning driven by what customers truly value, to effective and efficient production from planning through harvest, and ultimately to putting money into your bank account, this book is full of practical and inventive ideas that will help your farm prosper.”—Richard Wiswall, author of The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook 

“This is a great book on the methods that make Clay Bottom Farm a successful compact farm, explaining the thinking behind those methods. Ben gives clear, detailed descriptions of the day-to-day systems, and further illustrates the concepts he first laid out in The Lean Farm. This companion, The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables, reveals a refined system that makes a great jumping off point for any aspiring grower, and gives seasoned growers ideas for how to improve their own systems.”—Josh Volk, author of Compact Farms

“Another gem from Ben Hartman. The Lean Farm introduced a dynamic new way of thinking about small farm businesses, pointing us in the right direction. Now, The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables gives us the detail, specifics, and tricks of the trade that show us how to execute lean strategies on a small farm. Ben is a key entrepreneur in diverse, sustainable, small farm agriculture, and is emerging as the Midwest’s heir apparent to Eliot Coleman. The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables is an indispensable resource for all small farmers, new or experienced, young or old.”—Steve Hallett, professor of horticulture, Purdue University; author of The Efficiency Trap; coauthor of Life without Oil

“Applications of lean principles to a new arena are often confusing and shallow. The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables is clear and deep. This book is based on real-world experience, drawing on lean principles to develop a radically new approach to farming that gets you more for less.”—Jeffrey Liker, author of The Toyota Way

“I’m an impatient reader but always make time for Ben’s writings. Every time I found myself wondering about a nugget of detail in The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables it would appear within the next paragraph or two. This book fully explores production details that most authors skim over, and in vegetable production—as in any craft—details matter.”—Pete Johnson, founder, Pete’s Greens, Craftsbury, Vermont 

“If you liked The Lean Farm, you’ll love The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables. Ben’s first book was the big picture of what lean principles are and how they can be used to make farms more efficient. This book focuses in for the close-up, with specific examples of how to apply lean principles to vegetable farming and case studies from the author’s own farm experience. Ben’s discussion of kaizen, the practice of continuous improvement, reminds us we can all be more efficient. Read this book with last season in mind and you’ll be inspired with ideas of how to streamline next season. After reading this I have more than a few lean ideas I’m going to apply on my own farm.”—Andrew Mefferd, author of The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook 

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

ALSO BY THIS AUTHOR

The Lean Farm

The Lean Farm

Ben Hartman

Paperback $29.95

AUTHOR VIDEOS

The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables

A video introducing The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables, a book by Ben Hartman and published by Chelsea Green Publishing in 2017. Hartman's first book, The Lean Farm, described the lean system for farmers. This new book is a companion how-to manual that reveals in detail how Hartman uses lean thinking to grow his vegetable crops.

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 Guide to Growing Vegetables

Pages:272 pages
Book Art:Full-color photographs and illustrations throughout
Size: 7 x 10 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781603586993
Pub. Date November 03, 2017

Available In/Retail Price

Paperback, 272 pages, $29.95