Episode 67: Ben Hartman


by Rodney Wilson

Indiana farmer and The Lean Micro Farm author Ben Hartman talks about the logistics of downsizing.

Hear about the CSA Ben started while still in high school and how this set him up for a career in farming. Ben shares the statistics that, by the end of this century, we will lose half of the farms that we have now, and the farms that are left will be twice as large. Statistics like this make him believe even more strongly that farmers need to increase their money-making potential.

“We were really bad farmers,” Ben says about his and his wife, Rachel Hershberger’s, Clay Bottom Farm. Listen to his story of farming 5 acres on a growth trajectory, then changing course to start downsizing instead—and now farming just 1/3 acre and making the same amount of money. You’ll hear Ben’s step-by-step entry into the principles of the lean manufacturing system, including examining and getting rid of the seven forms of waste, designing a farm business that achieves specific goals, using the 80/20 principle to identify both customers and products, and more. Also learn a couple of lean concepts for managing workforce and the 5 S organizing system. (This will change how you use and store your farming tools!)

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Also get to know the work Ben has done with Winrock International’s USAID farmer-first lean-farming project in Nigeria and his teaching and training work for farmers everywhere.

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