Keynote Speaker

Can't attend the full-day conference?
Tickets are available for the evening Keynote event only
Keynote Event Schedule
4:15-5:00 pm: Appetizers & Green Market Fair
5:00-6:00 pm: Keynote Address by Ben Hartman
6:00-6:30 pm: Q&A Session & Book Signing

Keynote Speaker

Ben Hartman

Farmer & Author

What's Wrong With Working 35 Hours Per Week? Using Lean Ideas to Cut Out Waste and Free Up Your Time

Thousands of farmers burn out from overwork after just a few seasons. While hard work is a virtue, so is finding a healthy life-work balance. In his keynote address, Ben Hartman, author of The Lean Farm, will explain powerful concepts from the lean system that food producers of any size and type--from ranchers to grain farmers to home gardeners--can use to produce more value with less waste and work. He will provide examples from Clay Bottom Farm, in northern Indiana, where he and his wife earn a comfortable living from 1/3 acre of cultivated land working less than 35 hours per week.

Ben Hartman is the author of The Lean Farm, a 2016 winner of the Shingo Institute’s Prestigious Research and Professional Publication Award. He and his wife, Rachel Hershberger, own and operate Clay Bottom Farm in Goshen, Indiana, where they make their living on less than one acre growing and selling specialty produce to restaurants, at a farmers’ market, and through their CSA. Hartman was appointed to the 2017 Grist 50, a list of emerging green leaders in the United States. He keynotes conferences, conducts workshops, and offers consulting services. To learn more, see

The Lean Farm

How to Minimize Waste, Increase Efficiency, and Maximize Value and Profits with Less Work


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.

The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables
More In-Depth Lean Techniques for Efficient Organic Production

At Clay Bottom Farm, author Ben Hartman and staff practice kaizen, or continuous improvement, cutting out more waste—of time, labor, space, money, and more—every year and aligning their organic production more tightly with customer demand. Applied alongside other lean principles originally developed by the Japanese auto industry, the end result has been increased profits and less work.

In this field-guide companion to his award-winning first book, The Lean Farm, Hartman shows market vegetable growers in even more detail how Clay Bottom Farm implements lean thinking in every area of their work, including using kanbans, or replacement signals, to maximize land use; germination chambers to reduce defect waste; and right-sized machinery to save money and labor and increase efficiency. From finding land and assessing infrastructure needs to selling perfect produce at the farmers market, The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables digs deeper into specific, tested methods for waste-free farming that not only help farmers become more successful but make the work more enjoyable. These methods include:

* Using Japanese paper pot transplanters
* Building your own germinating chambers
* Leaning up your greenhouse
* Making and applying simple composts
* Using lean techniques for pest and weed control
* Creating Heijunka, or load-leveling calendars for efficient planning

Farming is not static, and improvement requires constant change. The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables offers strategies for farmers to stay flexible and profitable even in the face of changing weather and markets. Much more than a simple exercise in cost-cutting, lean farming is about growing better, not cheaper, food—the food your customers want.

Video: Ben Hartman on Lean Farming

Video: Ben Hartman, Clay Bottom Farm, on Tomato Two Leader Trellising System

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