A step-by-step guide on how to turn a profit from a tiny, but productive, parcel of farmland, based on Ben Hartman's 16 years of growing experience. Start your micro farm today!

Lean Market Growing Masterclass

Minimalist, no-waste, tiny-scale farming

Receive a FREE copy of The Lean Micro Farm when you sign up for the Masterclass

Ben's new book, The Lean Micro Farm, tells the story of how we set up our 1/3 acre high-profit micro farm, explains the "get small" approach, and includes guides that complement the Masterclass.

Students in the US: you'll receive an Amazon voucher for your book when you join. International students: you'll receive The Lean Micro Farm as an e-book.

Payment Plan

$550/month (x3)

  • Three¬†monthly payments for a total of $1650
  • Automatic monthly payments
  • Lifetime access to the Masterclass
  • Direct access to Ben to ask your growing questions
BUY NOW

One-time Payment

$1,600

  • One payment of $1600--lowest price option
  • Lifetime access to the Masterclass
  • Direct access to Ben to ask your growing questions.
  • Easy payment through PayPal
BUY NOW

Save 35% on the Masterclass 

Every March and October we offer the Masterclass for 35% off for a special enrollment period. Sign up here to be included on the list.

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Totally Unique

The most comprehensive online course in market growing, combining the lean management system and Ben Hartman's cutting edge growing methods. Earn higher profits with less work.

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Earn a Living from Your Backyard

At Clay Bottom Farm, we earn our living on less than 1/3 acre in production. This course shows methods that you can apply in a large backyard. Farm smaller and smarter!

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Practical

More than 150 video lessons, shot on the farm during the growing season, showing you all the details of our 1/3-acre farm. Great for urban and rural growers alike, and part-time or full-time farmers.

What's included in the Masterclass

Direct Access to Ben

Ben answers all questions posed through the course platform by Masterclass students on a weekly basis. Masterclass students also receive invitations to exclusive live online trainings and Q&A events with Ben. BONUS - When you join the Masterclass you receive a copy of Ben's newest book, The Lean Micro Farm, as well as access to discount codes for tools and supplies used and vetted at Clay Bottom Farm (see list at the bottom of the page). 

Cutting Edge Information

Clay Bottom Farm is one of the most respected small farms in the nation and the course is updated every season. NEW in 2022-'23: Over a dozen new lessons, including a greenhouse construction series, updated information on tomato trellising techniques, packaging options for wholesale accounts, and more. 

Easy-to-Use Platform

More than 150 video lessons (40+ hours of instruction) showing how to earn a comfortable living on on a tiny scale, presented in a streamlined, easy-to-access format. Downloadable content like chef contact sheets, production cheat sheets, and wholesale price lists. Condensed quick-review summary slides of the course content for convenient learning.

New! Lean Market Growing Masterclass App

With the new app from Kajabi, you can access the Masterclass on your smartphone or tablet on the go and when it works best for your schedule. App is available for Androids and iPhones. Learn more about the app here. 

Farming with a Lean Focus

The Masterclass has specifics on everything: site selection, no-till soil building, compost-making, weed-free farming, harvesting, and lean selling strategies. Learn Ben's lean methods for growing tomatoes, salad greens, kale, peppers, ginger, carrots, and a whole lot more

Unique

This is the only online course in market gardening specifically focused on tiny-scale market gardening on less than 1/3 acre

Learn at Your Own Pace

You'll receive lifetime access to all of the lessons in the Masterclass for as long as the course is online. Work through the lessons at your own pace, with access granted immediately upon checkout. Plus - the Masterclass is ad-free - there are no distractions or promotions, just the lean growing information you want.

 

What You'll Learn in the Masterclass

Click below for a list of all the topics covered in Masterclass lessons

Learn More

See what's in the course

Take a dive into the course. Here's a preview.

 

Payment Plan

$550/month (x3)

  • Three¬†monthly payments for a total of $1650
  • Lifetime access to the Masterclass
BUY NOW

One-time Payment

$1,600

  • One payment of $1600--lowest price option
  • Lifetime access to the Masterclass
BUY NOW

The Lean Farm Story

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 five acres to less than one, 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 and The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables make the case that farming can still be a viable career for anyone willing to farm "smaller and smarter."  

About Me

Here's my story. I grew up on a corn and soybean farm in northern Indiana. I knew I always wanted to farm, but not on a big scale. When I was 16, I started my first CSA, driving specialty crops into town to 12 customers. And I haven't quit micro farming since.

Now I operate Clay Bottom Farm with my wife Rachel Hershberger and two part-time workers. We grow on 1/3-acre, sell all of our food within 1.5 miles of the farm, and import no fertilizer--we rely on our own compost, to feed the plants. We farm part-time, leaving plenty of time for other pursuits--primarily, spending time with our kids. We use a simple, no-dig/no-till approach, which I explain in the Masterclass.

But my path wasn't always smooth. In 2011, after years struggling to make ends meet on our farm, a straight-line wind ripped up a greenhouse and threw it on top our barn. That was tough. We'd just spent a summer paying for and building the structure, and we though that maybe it was a sign to get out, to quit farming. 

But, with a lot of support from friends and our community, we decided to keep going--with a different mindset. A CSA customer of ours, Steve Brenneman, sent us an email around that time and offered to coach us on the Japanese lean system--the most powerful production system in the world--to root out waste and increase our profits with less work. 

The result: we cut our growing area from five acres to 1/3 acre, got rid of most of our tools, and started to work far fewer hours. Every season we ask, How could we do less but better next year? And every year, as we simplify, we grow more more profitable. 

I write about our journey and methods in the The Lean Farm books, and in 2017 I was appointed to the Grist 50, a list of emerging green leaders in the United States. I've also consulted on projects around the world, include with USAID. I created The Lean Market Growing Masterclass as a streamlined, convenient way for anyone, anywhere to start a their own simple, small, and profitable lean farm. 

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Imani M.
Imbue Farm
Independence, Louisiana
 

The Lean Market Growing Masterclass has transformed my farming journey. What I love about the masterclass is that it offers video and other resources, allowing me to see the farming processes in real time. This has been a game-changer, guiding me in seed starting, weed management, tool selection, and even enhancing my restaurant customer service. I recommend this course to anyone interested in small-scale farming.

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Jackson H.
Phoenix Farm
McLeansville, North Carolina
 

Ben's lean farming course has been of tremendous value and influence on my farm and my life.  On the surface, "lean" may sound boring and unromantic, detracting from the heart of farming, but it does just the opposite.  It makes farming manageable and fun, allowing me to do the bulk of my farming in just 3 days a week so I can spend the rest of my time being a good husband and father, vacationing, and enjoying other pursuits for a well-rounded lifestyle!

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Peter H.
Sweet Pete's Market Garden 
Bedfordshire, UK 

Ben's Masterclass is my one stop shop for definitive knowledge on all aspects of modern market gardening. It is extremely clear and I heartily recommend it to all my fellow growers.

 

 

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Jim and Katie H.
Wild Canary Farm
Duvall, Washington
 

We raise pastured livestock, we grow cut flowers, not veg, and the lean philosophy I’ve studied in Ben’s books and through the Masterclass has universal value. We manage our business with an eye to lean thinking. The approach to systems and people resonates throughout our farm. It’s been a very fulfilling journey and gives our farm the ability, with only 3 employees, to punch well above our weight class.

 
 
 

Join Masterclass students from all over the world

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"I had so much fun watching the Masterclass videos, I had to stop myself to be able to get some sleep.... The Lean Market Growing Masterclass is essential for us to develop an updated plan, and help us make a major decision regarding our livelihoods."
--Ethan D.

"As one who is currently setting up a farm, I benefitted significantly through Ben's advice. Detailed and thorough, he addressed all of my main questions (and provided answers to questions I did not even know I was supposed to have) as he moved through the lessons. This course provides lots of information that will maximize your efforts and resources!" 

--Stephen R.

Praise for the new Masterclass App:
"Thank you so much for setting up this new digital infrastructure! The content has always been exceptional, but the user experience is now much improved - reaching videos in fewer button presses, a snappier interface, and best of all, lesson audio continues to play even when on locking my phone...Thank you again for continuing to improve this product."
--Adam M.  

3 Monthly Payments of $550: Buy Now
One-time Payment of $1600: Buy Now
Lean CBD Hemp and Masterclass Course Bundle: Buy Now

Our Favorite Tools and Supplies

Here are retailer links to some of the tools and supplies that we use on our farm. My book The Lean Micro Farm describes most of these in detail. We recommend these products based on our independent research and testing at Clay Bottom Farm. Purchasing tools and supplies using these links helps to support our farm.

Join us in the Lean Market Growing Masterclass or at our Lean Farm Start-Up Workshop and receive discount codes for many of these products. Discount codes are only available for Masterclass students and workshop participants. 

Orisha Automation This is the best control system for small farm greenhouses. 

Seedtime calendar Get free early beta access to their farm planning calendar and receive $5 in free seeds

Farmer's Friend
Quick-cut greens harvester - $750
Silage tarp (cut to width of two growing beds) - $233-491
Silage tarp repair tape - $36
Ground cover 6'x300' - $258

Johnny's Selected Seeds
Bed preparation rake - $109
Narrow collinear hoe - $53
Harvest bucket - $34
Curved grape and tomato shears - $15
Jang seeder - $519
Jang rollers - X-24 (baby Asian greens), LJ-24 (spinach), and F-12 (carrots and baby lettuce) - $31.20 each
Trowel - $22

Hoss Tools
Wheel hoe - $250
Fixed blade sweeps - $60

Tilmor
E-Ox electric wheel hoe - $1750+
Cultivator teeth - $113
Side knife - $133
Light duty flat shank ripper (x2) - $110

Gardener's Supply Company
DeWit half moon hoe - $80

Webstaurant Store
6" stainless steel produce knife - $7.50
Choice Prep 5 gallon greens spinner - $95

Irrigation King
Parts for 2 X-cel Wobbler head riser assemblies - $11 ea

Orbit
Orbit 1/2‚ÄĚ zinc step spike base¬†- $11 ea (use with 4‚Äô length of ¬Ĺ‚ÄĚ steel pipe and Xcel-Wobbler head for farm-built overhead irrigation; see p. 177 of The Lean Micro Farm¬†for more information)

Lee Valley
Clarington Forge digging fork (40") - $72

Local hardware store or online retailer
3/4"x100' garden hose - $230
Aluminum scoop shovel - $70
Adjustable-width rake - $35 (best to have one piece handle to avoid breakage)

Amazon
Mars Hydro TSL2000 grow light - $260
20,000 BTU weed burner torch for landscape fabric - $40
18 gallon Rubbermaid totes - $43
Inkbird digital temperature controller for germination chamber - $35
50 gallon Rubbermaid stock tank for washing greens - $200

Vermont Compost Supply (or source locally)
Fort Lite Potting mix

Uline
Plastic bags for food packaging

Local thrift store
Used slow cooker for germination chamber - $10

Use local leaves, food scraps, spent grain, etc. to make compost or purchase locally

Starter hoophouse options:

Nolt’s Greenhouse Supplies
Quonset Greenhouse, 12’x48’ - $1400

Farmer’s Friend
Gothic Caterpillar Tunnel, 16’x50’ - $2400

Greenhouse Megastore
1000 Series Hoophouse Frame, 16’x48’ (does not include plastic or baseboard) - $2200
1000 Series Hoophouse Package, 16’x48’ - $3000

Bootstrap Farmer
DIY Greenhouse Kit, 12’x60’ (kit optionally includes a bender for you to bend your own pipe; top rail and wood for hip boards, baseboard, and end walls purchased locally on your own) - $1100  

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