Fifty years ago the German-born British economist E F Schumacher popularised a change in thinking that is as relevant today as ever.

The title of his book 'Small is Beautiful' summed up the new approach in 1973. Now author Ben Hartman has applied that revolutionary thinking to the world of farming and given us a new idea: It's time to think big about small farms.

In 'The Lean Micro Farm', Hartman shares practical how-to tips, personal stories, and surprising examples of cutting-edge farmers and innovators around the world to show us how.

Taking inspiration from the groundbreaking ideas of Schumacher and Mahatma Gandhi, he 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 prioritise 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 pioneers show a possible path towards resilience in the face of supply chain disruption, globalisation, and climate change.

They model a gentler, more ecological approach to farming that produces less waste and uses less plastic, petroleum, and fertiliser.

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 £15,000 worth of produce from your back garden

It's an approach that has found fans among many alternative thinkers in the world of horticulture and farming.

Jesse Frost, author of 'The Living Soil Handbook' says: “I was delighted and a bit terrified to pick up Ben Hartman’s new book, because every time I read something Ben wrote, significant portions of my farm change.

"Chapter by chapter you see the ways in which shrinking their farm has led Ben and his wife Rachel to a happier, healthier, more sustainable, more localised farm without risking income. Each section is filled with examples and strategies for how they got small and what it looks like in practice. It’s well-written, thought-provoking, and potentially life-altering.

“So fair warning, this book will change your farm.”

Helen Atthowe, author of 'The Ecological Farm' is a convert too.

“The Lean Micro Farm is a game changer for farming and food production," she says.

"With well-thought-out principles and innovative techniques for planning and maintaining profitable tiny farms, Ben Hartman opens the door to a future of micro farms everywhere, rather than fewer and fewer large farms in rural locations only.

"This easy-to-read book is full of time-saving and ecologically sustainable techniques, such as flipping beds of both short and tall-growing crops with minimal soil disturbance so that multiple crops can be grown well each year in a small space.

"Ben’s tested methods can be applied to gardens and homesteads as well as small farms.”

'The Lean Micro Farm' is published on February 28 by Chelsea Green at £30.