Crop Mobs Help Farmers, Support Small-Scale Agriculture

Jun 29, 2010
Megan Bedard is a sucker for sustainable agriculture and a good farmers market, she likes writing about food almost as much as eating it.
This farm is a crop mob&39;s dream-come-true. (Photo: Nanagyei/Creative Commons)

Have you ever been at a mall, minding your own business, sitting in the food court eating something you'd rather not, when you notice a little commotion? 

Next thing you know, there are more people involved in the commotion.

And more.

And that's when you realize: My goodness, this is a mob dance. Everyone is moving in unison; everyone is there to dance.

That's kinda what crop mobs are like.

Crop mobs are teams of people—mostly urbanites—who mobilize to help local farmers. They show up, learn a basic farming task, and set to work.

It's a win-win scenario: farmers get free workers, and soft-handed hipsters learn what it's like to do manual labor and have a relationship with their food.

The trend started a couple of years ago in North Carolina, and has been seen since in all corners of the U.S., due mostly to social networking. One person sends out a tweet, and the process is set in motion. Hundreds of re-tweets later, a group has amassed to till soil, pull weeds, or plant seeds.

It's that easy.

Of course, these mobsters are not people generally born to farming; it's a learning experience, to be sure. Some volunteers shared with that they had to borrow work boots, and were surprised at the physical strain on their bodies. But mobbing is opening conversations, and it's giving urban and suburban folks the chance to get involved, not just with the latest foodie trend, but with a farmer who makes food production his life's work.

As one farmer put it: "A lot of kids are two and three generations removed from farming. Anytime you can get somebody back in a rural setting, seeing what it takes to put food on the table—that's great."

Photo: Nanagyei/Creative Commons via Flickr

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