My new book, The Lean Micro Farm, is now released!
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The Lean Micro Farm is a step-by-step guide for earning serious income from a tiny piece of land, based on Ben's 16 years as a professional grower. Includes a plan to earn $20K a year from your backyard.
The book tells the story of how we moved our farm to the city, shrank it to just 1/3-acre, and pivoted so that most of our food sells within 1 1/2 miles of the farm.
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Review of The Lean Micro Farm from Jesse Frost, author of The Living Soil Handbook:
Oftentimes, the desire in farming is to open up more land, grow more crops, and get bigger. In The Lean Micro Farm, Ben Hartman doesn't just illuminate the enormous potential in getting small--for communities, for the environment, for the profitability of farms--he lays out a roadmap for how to achieve it.
As Ben eloquently demonstrates, small doesn't mean less, small can just as easily mean more. Small can mean better. Small can mean, in the immortal words of economist E.F. Schumacher, beautiful. More importantly, when the desire is to grow more and earn more, sometimes getting smaller is actually the answer.
I was delighted and a bit terrified to pick up Ben Hartman's new book, because every time I read something Ben wrote, significant portions of my farm change. And The Lean Micro Farm is no exception. Chapter by chapter you see the ways in which shrinking their farm has led Ben and his wife Rachel to a happier, healthier, more sustainable, more localized farm without risking income. Each section is filled with examples and strategies for how they got small and what it looks like in practice. It's well-written, thought-provoking, and potentially life-altering. I immediately found myself penciling out ways to make our farm smaller.
So fair warning, the book will change your farm.
The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables is a field guide companion to The Lean Farm, describing how Clay Bottom Farm utilizes lean thinking to grow their specialty crops.
In 2011, one of Clay Bottom Farm's CSA customers approached Ben and Rachel, the owners, with the idea of applying the lean methods that he was using in his trailer factory to their farm. The result: the two farmers cut their growing area from one acre to 1/3 acre, got rid of most of their tools, and started to work far fewer hours. Yet every season that they downsized, they grew more profitable. Together, The Lean Farm books make the case that farming can still be a viable career for anyone willing to farm "smaller and smarter."
George Washington Carver, the famous peanut promoter, said "'Take care of waste and turn it into profitable channels' should be the slogan of every farmer."
Carver, as head of the Tuskegee Experiment Station, encouraged diversification away from cotton, pioneering growing systems for peanuts, produce, and other crops that can be grown in high volume on small plots. Thousands of farmers received small farmer training through Tuskegee and its bulletins.
Though our lives never overlapped, I consider Carver to be a mentor and a foundation behind Clay Bottom Farm and my books.
"Everyone strives for efficiency in vegetable farming, but Ben Hartman has actually achieved it."
"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 vegetable farm."
"Ben Hartman is that rare person who could describe the lean farming revolution and then provide proven practices from his own farm."
Ben is a farmer and author of The Lean Farm, winner of the prestigious Shingo Prize. In 2017 he wrote a field guide companion called The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables, and was named one of 50 green leaders in the US by Grist. He is a senior consultant for USAID-funded projects. Clay Bottom Farm offers on-farm workshops and online courses teaching farmers how to farm smaller and smarter.LEARN MORE
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