Lean Farming Method: Prepare Produce for Market

Try using the single-piece flow to create a faster and more efficient way to prepare your produce.

| April 2018

  • tomatoes
    The goals of lean are to cut out waste and to find and deliver value.
    Photo by Clay Bottom Farm
  • lean-farming
    “The Lean Farm” by Ben Hartman, is helpful for anyone trying to grow vegetables and be more efficient.
    Courtesy of Chelsea Green

  • tomatoes
  • lean-farming

The Lean Farm (Chelsea Green, 2015) by Ben Hartman, is helpful for any gardener looking to be more efficient. Find new ways to cut down on time and waste. Follow Hartman’s guide to spend less time working and more time enjoying what you have grown. Follow the lean farming method to reduce waste and increase productivity and get your produce market-ready or for direct sales by handling the produce less. Eliminate the unnecessary steps. 

A Basic Definition of Lean

In its simplest form, Taiichi Ohno, the founder of the Toyota production system, described Toyota’s lean method as “looking at the time line from the moment the customer gives us an order to the point when we collect the cash. And we are reducing that time line by removing the non-value-added wastes.”

Another way to view lean is by analyzing capacity, the amount of product that can be produced in a given span of time. To Ohno, the capacity equation is simple:

“Present capacity = work + waste.”

The lean way to increase the capacity is to eliminate the waste. “Work” is anything that adds value for the customer; “waste” is anything that doesn’t. The eventual goal is zero waste and 100 percent work.

This “absolute elimination of waste” became the backbone of the Toyota production system, and it catapulted the company in the latter part of the 20th century past its rivals to become the largest automobile manufacturer in the world. It was also the most profitable: by the early 2000s Toyota’s net profit margin was 8.3 times higher than the industry average. The very simple formula was to find waste, root it out, and turn it into capacity to produce more.


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