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Organic farmer finds success in smaller-scale lean farming

An Indiana farmer is using the Toyota lean business model to make his small organic produce farm more profitable. 

Ben Hartman and his family grow produce for nearby retail and private customers near Goshen, Indiana.  For the past 16 years, he has made the farm more profitable by eliminating waste instead of constantly growing and seeking new markets. “Removed waste equals capacity, so if you can focus on getting rid of waste, you have a way of growing your business dramatically in some cases without investing anything else into it.”

Hartman says there are different types of waste, like physical waste, process waste, or motion waste and farmers would be surprised how much time and money they can gain by eliminating it. “With motion waste, with crop production, we’re looking at well, how many field passes are we making before we are selling our crop.”

Hartman says there’s an over-emphasis on finding new customers and finding new markets, but cutting costs and scouring the farm for waste is a wonderful and often free opportunity to be more profitable.

AUDIO: Hartman spoke to Brownfield about lean farming practices during the Marbleseed Organic Conference in La Crosse, Wisconsin Thursday.

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