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The Lean Farm

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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.

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