It might be hard to get excited about vegetables while there is still snow on the ground. Here at Oh Yeah! Farms we are lucky to still be enjoying delicata squash, onions, garlic, potatoes and a plethora of frozen and canned goods that were processed in the late summer. This is the first year with heat pumping in the greenhaus, and our arugula has popped! Seeing fresh young green sprouts while there is snow surrounding is warming and inspiring.
Winter farm work is full of cleaning, organizing, and putting last year in the books while planning for a fresh new start ahead. Winter is the time to slow down, dream and scheme up improvements from both successes and failures, and really reflect on the fast paced summer months.
We have learned new terms and philosophy from a fellow organic farmer, Ben Hartman, of Clay Bottom Farm in Indiana. I thought I would share as they have been motivating in my personal life as well. Ben has a lean style approach to farming, and to life illustrates this in “The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables.” The lean system is a Japanese inspired production system that looks to cut out waste, increase efficiency, and become more profitable. It starts with planning the year with Heijunka and Kanban. Heijunka is the load leveling. You practice heijunka to avoid rushes, and create smoother, more predictable work environments. Kanban is the replacement signal. An example of kanban is when milk was delivered in bottles, empty bottles placed outside functioned as the Kanban. In the farmers world, our open beds are the replacement signal, filling as soon as we can with heijunka practices. Next there is Seiri, which is a method of sorting. Getting rid of everything that is not absolutely necessary for current production. Moving on to cutting out the muda which is everything that does not add value. Not all muda is waste, and should be eliminated though. The idea is to minimize the amount of time and energy put into tasks that are not value adding. Other types of waste in the lean philosophy are mura and muri. Mura is the waste from imbalance in production and sales, muri is the waste of human and equipment energy. Ending with the last, and my personal favorite, kaizen: continuous improvement! Discover improvements while recognizing and disposing of waste!
These are now in practice here at Oh Yeah! Farms as we gear up for the 2018 season. Our CSA- Community Supported Agriculture shares are now available for purchase on our website, ohyeahfarms.com/csa. C.S.A.s allow shareholders to receive fresh local organic veggie boxes all summer long while helping out with early season capital. Oh Yeah! Farms relies on these memberships to help with hefty seed purchases, equipment maintenance, etc in the long winter months!