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Farming Forward

Austrian Wood Shingles

Grant Schultz

Wooden shingles have a long tradition as a roofing material in Austria. There are several types of shingles, and several patterns of shingling.  One type is called the "Schieferschindel", lets learn how to make them.


The Regenerative Farm vs 5S Methodology

Grant Schultz

Machinery retired to the "back fencerow" is a common sight on American farms.  It's perhaps an anachronism from the Depression era where scrap wasn't worth the time and effort to haul to a recycler and there was a chance that some part or material could be reused for an unknown future repair.  Having clutter became a frugal and advisable strategy when economic forces took things to extremes.

The question now is, at what point is a packrat mentality more detrimental than beneficial?  In the worlds of easy capital availability and plentiful resources, a 5S or Lean Production methodologies make sense.  When a critical eye looks at agricultural practices and the economy on a perilous precipice, is adopting a lean methodology advisable?  Isn't that akin to emptying the entire pantry because you're so confident the grocery store will always be well-stocked? Ecological farming obeys Natural Law, and there is no waste in nature.  Is 5S/Lean Farming really just a recipe for disaster?  How far should you take it?


Let's take a look at 5S... 

from Wikipedia

5S is the name of a workplace organization method that uses a list of five Japanese words: seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke. Transliterated into Roman Script, they all start with the letter "S".[1] The list describes how to organize a work space for efficiency and effectiveness by identifying and storing the items used, maintaining the area and items, and sustaining the new order.[2] The decision-making process usually comes from a dialogue about standardization, which builds understanding among employees of how they should do the work.

In some quarters, 5S has become 6S, the sixth element being safety.[3]

Other than a specific stand-alone methodology, 5S is frequently viewed as an element of a broader construct known as visual control,[4] visual workplace,[5] or visual factory.[6][7] Under those (and similar) terminologies, Western companies were applying underlying concepts of 5S before publication, in English, of the formal 5S methodology. For example, a workplace-organization photo from Tennant Company (a Minneapolis-based manufacturer) quite similar to the one accompanying this article appeared in a manufacturing-management book in 1986.[8]

The origins of 5S

The scheme "Correct Arrangement of the Tool" from a CIT instruction sheet, 1920-1924.

5S was developed in Japan and was identified as one of the techniques that enabled Just in Time manufacturing.[9]

Two major frameworks for understanding and applying 5S to business environments have arisen, one proposed by Osada, the other by Hirano.[10][11] Hirano provided a structure to improve programs with a series of identifiable steps, each building on its predecessor. As noted by John Bicheno,[12] Toyota's adoption of the Hirano approach was '4S', with Seiton and Seiso combined.

Some claim that the principles of 5S came from Henry Ford, who was using the CANDO (Cleaning up, Arranging, Neatness, Discipline and Ongoing improvement) method prior to the development of 5S.[13]

A precursor development to the Japanese system of management was outlined by Alexey Gastev's development and the Central Institute of Labour (CIT) in Moscow.[clarification needed][14]

The 5S

There are five 5S phases: They can be translated from the Japanese as "sort", "set in order", "shine", "standardize", and "sustain". Other translations are possible.


  • First step towards our PES 5S journey.
  • Make work easier by eliminating obstacles.
  • Reduce chances of being disturbed with unnecessary items.
  • Evaluate necessary items with regard to cost or other factors.
  • Remove all parts or tools that are not in use.
  • Segregate unwanted material from the workplace.
  • Define Red-Tag area to place unnecessary items that cannot immediately be disposed of. Dispose of these items when possible.
  • Need fully skilled supervisor for checking on a regular basis.
  • Waste removal.
  • Make clear all working floor except using material.
  • Daily fillings

Set in order[edit]

  • Arrange all necessary items so that they can be easily selected for use.
  • Prevent loss and waste of time by arranging work station in such a way that all tooling / equipment is in close proximity.
  • Make it easy to find and pick up necessary items.
  • Ensure first-in-first-out FIFO basis.
  • Make workflow smooth and easy.
  • All of the above work should be done on a regular basis.
  • Place components according to their uses, with the frequently used components being nearest to the work place.


  • Clean your workplace on daily basis completely or set cleaning frequency time to time
  • Use cleaning as inspection.
  • Prevent machinery and equipment deterioration.
  • Keep workplace safe and easy to work.
  • Keep workplace clean and pleasing to work in.
  • When in place, anyone not familiar to the environment must be able to detect any problems within 50 feet in 5 sec.


  • Standardize the best practices in the work area.
  • Maintain high standards in workplace organization at all times.
  • Everything in its right place.
  • Every process has a standard.
  • Standardize color coding of usable items
  • People know the process of that specific job


  • Not harmful to anyone.
  • Also translates as "do without being told".
  • Perform regular audits.
  • Training and discipline.
  • Training is goal-oriented process. Its resulting feedback is necessary monthly.
  • Self-discipline
  • To maintain proper order, ensure all defined standards are being implemented and heard.
  • Follow the process, but also be open to improvement

What say you?  What is your strategy for optimal production and resiliency?  How are you practicing antifragility?

Mulberry Mania

Grant Schultz

When I was growing up, summers were spent riding bikes, eating fresh mulberries off the trees, and catching crayfish in the creek. Life was good. Every kid, wild turkey, and squirrel loved fresh mulberries. I noticed the prolificacy of the trees then, and the parallel disdain that many adults held for them. "They're weed trees, cut them down. The birds eat them and then shit on my car!" This widely-held belief seemed crazy to me. Why would anyone want to eliminate abundant fruit trees? Mulberries begin fruiting early in their lives, begin fruiting early in the season, and fruit nearly non-stop from early summer into fall.

So, mulberry is a prolific tree that rains fruit most of the growing season.

::TV Ad:: But wait, there's more!

Screen Shot 2013-04-10 at 1.59.04 PM
Screen Shot 2013-04-10 at 1.59.04 PM

Mulberry leaves are a tremendously high quality forage that rivals alfalfa. Here's an analysis:

Farmscale Permaculture: Luke Callahan on Profitable Microgreens

Grant Schultz

Farmscale Permaculture 2016 : Crops : Microgreens

Luke Callahan on Profitable Microgreens

In this presentation, Luke Callahan shares his experience growing microgreens as a full-time business. Already an accomplished entrepreneur, Luke attended our 2015 Farmscale Permaculture course to diversify his skillset and meet all the cool folks at the course. Luke currently homesteads in Oregon.

If you'd like to see the rest of the Farmscale Permaculture video series, you can sign up here.



Farmscale Permaculture: Pastured Pork at Groce Family Farm

Grant Schultz

Farmscale Permaculture 2016 : Livestock : Pastured Pork

Pastured Pork at Groce Family Farm

Luke Groce gives a complete overview of their process for raising and marketing pastured pork.  Luke came to our 2015 Farmscale Permaculture course and has since purchased a larger farm and expanded the family vegetable and grazing operations.

Luke and Katherine Groce farm Groce Family Farm in Crawford County, Indiana just outside Louisville, Kentucky.

If you'd like to see the rest of the Farmscale Permaculture video series, you can sign up here.



Heritage Apples

Grant Schultz

We're grafting 4,000+ apple trees in 2015. A recent scionwood collection trip included 68 heritage varieties new to Versaland. If you want a head start on planting a resilient food system, go ahead and plant apple rootstock now. We market several varieties of rootstock through New Farm Supply.

Enjoy this peek at a few heritage varieties.

Farmscale Keyline Mulching

Grant Schultz

This is how you mulch, fertilize, and optimize tree crops at scale using 100% organic methods. Use alleyway alfalfa and clover to mulch your tree crops. Eliminate competition, increase soil fertility, and increase water holding capacity all while hauling in no external inputs.

Win/Win/Win. Learn more here: http://www.versaland.com/workshops/farmscale-permaculture/

Grant Resources

Grant Schultz

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Grant Schultz

treecrops Tree Crops by J. Russell Smith is one of our favorite books.

We're offering a legal PDF download of the original edition, with all of its wonderful photographs.

Use the form below, and it will be delivered direct to your inbox via auto-reply.

Fill out my online form.