Lean Farm: Chapter One

January 13th 2020

by Jeff Hubbard

The first chapter is about opening your eyes on the farm. That seems like a strange sentence to type to a farmer, but it’s amazing how blind we become when we find the grooves of habit. We get so focused on the tiny habits - at the farm and in life - that we’ve developed muscle memory to get us through the work. 

One way to open your eyes, is to understand the following five “s” rules outlined below: 

  1. Seiri (sort) - The author of Lean Farm, Ben Hartman, sums up seiri by saying, “the only items left in your production spaces should be those you use every day to add value to your product. Period.” At our farm, we donated old tools that we no longer needed. We hauled off old beams of steel and other messes that we pushed to the side of the property. We realized our old tools and scrap metal had a cost to storage and eliminated them in order to better see our farm and property.    

  2. Seiton (set in order) - The best example of set in order is our nutrient room where we keep our amendments, scissors, glasses, gloves, measuring cups, etc. and have the most foot traffic. The cost of looking for scissors, grow glasses, and other equipment adds up and we eliminated those wasted steps by organizing our nutrient room and all other areas of production so that tools are visible, inventoried, and organized.  

  3. Seiso (shine) - Our hash lab is our best example of shine as it’s cleaned vigorously each day to ensure we do not have any contaminants in our solventless based concentrates. We added more LED lights to ensure the workspace was well lit. We wash our jars and sanitize all tools that we use.  

  4. Seiketsu (standardize) - We now know that if we follow the first three “s” that we will not have a large dirt pile at the end of the year because we will now routinely empty out our quarantine, root balls, and other waste that needs to be disposed. Big piles of root balls lead to big problems. It’s best to keep messes and problems small on a farm through routine and standard maintenance that anyone can follow. 

  5. Shitsuke (sustain) - We take great pride in our infused prerolls and we have been able to increase our production without any new equipment or tools. We simply follow the five “s,” and we do a weekly audit to make sure everyone is following the sort, set in order, and shine tasks that we have for the department. When everyone knows what to do in order to be successful, the department can sustain momentum and create value for our customers. 

The first chapter of lean farm is about identifying and defining problems that might not be entirely visible on your farm to you or your team. The goal is to approach every department and identify what tools allow you to complete the job. Keep those tools and organize them into a system that is easy to understand and set them in order. From there, standardize the processes to keep problems small and immediate as those are often much easier to solve. 

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