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By focusing on efficiency, hobby farms can become more profitable using fewer resources.

During the past seven years, Ben Hartman and his wife, Rachel Hershberger, have doubled their farm income while cutting their labor hours by half. Their secret: They reduced the number of crops grown and focused on selling their produce within 10 miles of the farm rather than driving for as long as three hours to make deliveries. Scaling back to grow the business might seem counterintuitive, but the couple’s Clay Bottom Farm in Goshen, Indiana, demonstrates that farmers can do more with less.

Darren Vollmar and his family use lean methods to maximize crop production at Ledgeview Gardens.

Hartman was raised on his family’s 500-acre corn and soybean farm. He recalls then-Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz proclaiming in the 1970s that farmers needed to either “get big or get out.” Butz, who served under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, promoted the idea that a successful farmer was someone who purchased bigger tractors, bought more land and produced more crops.

“There was a great deal of pressure to get bigger and do more with more,” Hartman says. “When it came to our small-scale vegetable farm, it just wasn’t working.” After purchasing a farm in 2008, Hartman and Hershberger first focused on expansion. They worked as many as 5 tillable acres and four greenhouses.

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Hobby Farms January/February 2019, Homegrown Hogs, Be a Part-Time Pork Raiser, 7 Medication Management Musts, And More........