The Lean Farm with Ben Hartman (FSFS112)

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When it comes to the concept of lean production, the central question is, “Am I contributing to value or am I adding waste? I can only do one or the other.”

So what is waste? According to lean manufacturer Vorne, “Waste is defined as any activity that does not add value from the customer’s perspective. According to research conducted by the Lean Enterprise Research Centre (LERC), fully 60% of production activities in a typical manufacturing operation are waste – they add no value at all for the customer.”

It was this idea of controlling waste and using a process-based approach that attracted Ben and his wife to the idea of applying lean principles to the farm. Originally introduced to the idea by a CSA customer, Ben has taken the lean ball and run with it, dramatically changing the look, layout, and profitably of his farm, and along with his, his lifestyle. Lean has allowed him to farm less land while keep revenue and profits stable, all while using less time. Time that comes in handy when you want to enjoy the finer things in life like your kids.

Ben’s gone on to write two books on the topic, and today’s episode in an introduction to those books and to the basic concepts, today it’s all about The Lean Farm with farmer and author Ben Hartman.


Notes from the episode with Ben Hartman:

  • “Am I contributing to value or am I adding waste?  I can only do one or the other.”
  • Eliminate any and all waste as much as possible.
  • Precisely identity what the customer wants:
    • What do they want?
    • How much do they want?
    • When do they want it?
  • Eliminate waste = capacity.
    • Free capacity – do whatever you want with it.
  • “With direct seeding you leave a lot up to chance with germination, and I like to remove that element of chance.”


Connect with Ben:
Clay Bottom Farm


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