This morning, while our Green Apprenticeship Permaculture students were doing independent work on their projects, Mike Kaplin led the staff of the Center for Creative Ecology on part 2 of our study of “Lean Farming”. We’ve built our organization on creative utility of waste. Now we’re learning a new way to view waste in order to be more efficient and profitable in order to better serve our students and customers.

We still do ‘treasure our waste’ in accordance with the Permaculture Principles to “Produce No Waste”. The concept is that in nature there is no garbage: the end product of each process is a resource for another. When the waste or trash has no use, is not recycled and/or harms the environment, it is Pollution.
[credit: David Holmgren & Formidable Vegetable Sound System, ] have a long history on Lotan of making use of this waste: tires and bottles and straw become buildings, food scraps are composted to become soil or biogas.

The waste that we’re learning is in part material but it has more to do with organizational waste of time, money and effort.

We have excellent products and we want to spend our time, and that of our students, doing what benefits us.

Keren Tsaushu and Mike Densham have reistituted the CSA Farming that Leah Zigmond and Mike Kaplin started (the first in Israel?) in Kibbutz Lotan’s Organic Gan Bayit [home garden] many years ago. Following our community’s decision to privatize responsibility for income, we are committed to using the social-economic models that promote community engagement in local organic food production. In short: let’s keep our money in the community through financially supporting our farmers. 

Keren and Mike’s gift, in addition to giant broccoli, has led us evaluate our organization in addition to our farming practices. When we heard about the connection between Lean Farming and Toyota’s Factories some of us were gung-ho and others concerned that Efficiency was soul-less. 
“The concept of ‘lean’ manufacturing originally began during the 1980s in Japanese auto factories, such as those owned by Toyota, and it embraces a work ethic of eliminating as much waste as possible to give consumers the best value for their purchase. Using his own Clay Bottom Farm in Indiana as a proving ground, Ben Hartman adapted this lean philosophy to support a thriving business, growing and selling enough specialty produce to support himself and his wife by harvesting only a single acre of land. In this lucidly written, well-organized guidebook, Hartman lays out the fundamentals of lean farming for any grower hoping to follow his example, from limiting materials and transportation needs to more efficiently using staff member talents.”

We and our students are already benefiting from the process. Jonathan, a Real Estate developer from London said yesterday after a class on efficient project management as a Permaculture tool “I am experienced with these methods. I am very glad to see that the management techniques that I am familiar with can be used with these new perspectives and values of caring for the earth and community members.” 

We recommend Ben Hartman’s book. And we’re Very appreciative of him for spending the time to share his wisdom with us. It won’t go to waste!
Support the Clay Bottom Farm in Goshen Indiana and your local farmers.