Author Ben Hartman applies modern manufacturing benchmarking and efficiency methodology to small farms. Written in a warm, friendly style, The Lean Farm is neither a boring textbook on efficiency and waste nor a rambling tale of personal anecdotes. It’s an encouraging guide to turning a hobby or break-even family farm into a sustainable, profitable, enjoyable business. Hartman’s goal is not sterile “factory” farms but productive farms where waste is minimized and the harvest is maximized. Efficiency gives the farming family time for a balanced lifestyle and frees up time and resources for expanding into other farming endeavors.
The main target audience is experienced farmers. Those who have farmed for several seasons will be challenged to examine their routines and practices, looking for ways to cut waste, reduce time spent on tasks, and improve the quality of the harvest they provide for their communities. In considerable detail, it covers the whole spectrum of farm tasks, from planning plantings to and the marketing and sale of the harvest. New farmers and those at the hobby scale may find many of the details beyond the scope of their experience. However, any who aspire to full time farming will benefit from increased awareness of the many ways that waste can creep in to ‘simple’ farm tasks. The book will encourage all readers to look beyond the first ‘simple’ way to get things done and consider several ways to accomplish goals, being mindful of waste and the time costs.
The last chapters apply specifically to Hartman’s farm and will be the most helpful for starting farmers. Ben and his wife farm less than one acre, yet are able to comfortably support their family. An inside look at how they work and apply the ‘lean’ principles will inspire every farmer.