Sunday, May 2, 2010

Crop Mob

(The Crop Mob gathers mulch and finishes the greenhouse —
just two of the day’s tasks at Okfuskee Farm in Silk Hope, N.C.
Photo: David La Spina/NYT)

Have you ever heard of a "crop mob"? Me either... at least not until I read this great article in the NYT found HERE. It seems as though it started in North Carolina recently, but if you are interested in being part of, starting or joining a crop mob group look at their map HERE (yes there is one in NYC) and also HERE.

Crop mob is primarily a group of young, landless, and wannabe farmers who come together to build and empower communities by working side by side. Crop mob is also a group of experienced farmers and gardeners willing to share their knowledge with their peers and the next generation of agrarians. The membership is dynamic, changing and growing with each new mob event.

In the past farming was much more labor intensive. Activities like planting, harvesting, processing, and barn raising often required the collective effort of entire communities. This interdependence fostered strong communities. As farming became more mechanized and reliant on petroleum based inputs, it became a more independent and solitary career. Today in the industrial farming system a few people may manage hundreds or even thousands of acres.

While nationwide the number of farms and farmers has dwindled, right now in the Triangle area of North Carolina there is a surge of new sustainable small farms. These farms are growing diversified crops on small acreage, using only low levels of mechanization, and without the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers. This is a much more labor intensive way of farming that brings back the need for community participation.

Many crop mobbers are apprentices or interns on these sustainable farms. The need for community participation matches a desire for community among young people interested in getting into farming. The crop mob was conceived as a way of building the community necessary to practice this kind of agriculture and to put the power to muster this group in the hands of our future food producers.

Any crop mobber can call a crop mob to do the kind of work it takes a community to do. We work together, share a meal, play, talk, and make music. No money is exchanged. This is the stuff that communities are made of.

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