The Lean Micro Farm : How to Get Small, Embrace Local, Live Better, and Work Less
By Ben Hartman
“Ben Hartman is a true innovator for the small farm.”—Curtis Stone, author of The Urban Farmer
It’s time to think big about small farms. Award-winning author and “green leader” (Grist) Ben Hartman shares practical how-to tips, personal stories, and surprising examples of cutting-edge farmers and innovators around the world to show us how.
In the early 1970s, US Agriculture Secretary Earl Butz infamously commanded farmers to “get big or get out.” In The Lean Micro Farm, author Ben Hartman rejects that disastrous suggestion and instead takes up the charge of the late agrarian thinker Gene Logsdon: “Get small and stay in.”
Taking inspiration from the groundbreaking ideas of E. F. Schumacher and Mahatma Gandhi, The Lean Micro Farm shows how small, hyperlocal farms can be both ecologically and economically superior to industrial-scale operations geared toward export and commodity markets.
The Lean Micro Farm details the author’s remarkable journey to downsize his farm from one acre to a third of an acre in an effort to prioritize family and community over work, all without taking a pay cut. In addition, Hartman profiles six innovative farmers from across the globe who embody this “get small” mindset. These pioneering farmers show all of us a path toward resilience in the face of supply chain disruption, globalization, and climate change. They model a gentler, more ecological approach to farming that produces less waste and uses less plastic, petroleum, and fertilizer.
Like his previous two books, The Lean Farm and The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables, Hartman’s The Lean Micro Farm doesn’t just explain why smaller is better, it shows readers exactly how it can be done with step-by-step guides on how to turn a profit from a tiny, but productive, parcel of farmland. Readers will find not just philosophical justifications for a minimalist approach to agriculture but also actionable information for starting your own profitable micro farm, including:
- A description of the “deep mulch” method for building fertility
- Instructions on two-step bed flipping to increase production on a small footprint
- A guide for choosing essential tools and technologies “with a human face”
- An easy-to-follow process for making your micro farm lean and efficient
- A detailed plan for selling $20,000 worth of produce from your backyard
It’s time, Hartman makes clear, to pivot to a new kind of farming—one that builds upon ancestral knowledge, nourishes communities, and puts human joy, not technology, at its center.