Monday, November 29, 2010

November 2010 Crop Mob (Stick and Stone) - Recap & Photos!

 No shade, no shine, 
No butterflies, no bees,

No fruits, no flowers, 
No leaves, no birds - 

-Thomas Hood, "No!"

The Ithaca Crop Mob has come to the end of its first growing season. With the first (and second... and third...) snow having touched ground, and with only three more weeks of the Steamboat Landing Ithaca Farmers Market remaining, farmers are counting down the last days of the season and saying goodbye (or just "see you soon") to their employees and interns. Some farmers are headed to off-farm jobs for the winter in order to make ends meet; others are finishing bringing in root crops for winter markets and CSAs before the ground freezes and the cold sets in. Thanksgiving brought with it a bitter wind that left many only too happy to spend the harvest holiday at the dinner table and fireplace, giving thanks for the bounty of the season. But just a week and a half earlier, the Ithaca Crop Mob was blessed with a final taste of autumn.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

October 2010 Crop Mob (West Haven Farm)- Recap & Photos!

 In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.
-William Blake
Autumn's bright leaves and brisk winds have returned to the Finger Lakes. The first freeze struck this month, wiping out the very end of the tomatoes and basil (if blight hadn't gotten there first), beans, eggplants, squash, and more. But October was hardly a slow fade into winter- seventy degree days followed bitter cold sleet in a roller-coaster pattern that left plants as weary as farmers were wary. Now is the time to put the land to rest for the winter- even if, as in West Haven's case, the farmers won't get a break! 

This month, the Crop Mob visited West Haven Farm at Ecovillage in Ithaca, NY, ready to embark on the fall cleaning and complete the cycle of the growing season. We began by pulling up the black plastic mulch- weed controller and soil warmer- from the squash beds, exposing irrigation tubes for later removal.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

September 2010 Crop Mob (Meadowsweet Farm) - Recap & Photos!

Thanks to Cassandra Firak for the photos! If you have anything you'd like to add, please email me!

All the really good ideas I ever had came to me while I was milking a cow.  
-Grant Wood

Last Saturday, a small band of crop mobbers visited Meadowsweet Farm, a raw milk dairy in Lodi, NY. Though the Smith family- Barb, Steve, and their children- once sold raw milk to customers directly, Meadowsweet currently operates as an LLC (Limited Liability Company), in which LLC members own the cow herd and the Smith family manages the herd and distributes the milk products to members. The Smiths have been deeply involved in the litigation surrounding the sale of raw milk in New York State, and shared with us some insights and education on this breezy September morning.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August Crop Mob at Remembrance Farm- Recap & Pictures!

A big thanks to Genevieve DeClerck and Evan Wray for the beautiful photos!

The day of fortune is like a harvest day, We must be busy when the corn is ripe. -Torquato Tasso

Summer's end heralds the harvest time, the most simultaneously demanding and gratifying time of year. Like a strict teacher, it insists upon our constant dedication, industry, and zeal, but it is under its high expectations that we realize our biggest gains. The language of the harvest is deeply imbued with cultural meaning. We reap what has been sown. Our ideas bear fruit, or we seek the fruits of our labor. We glean, we squirrel away. Preserve. Produce. Yield. Vintage. The Grim Reaper with his scythe reminds us that winter eventually comes for us all.

Last weekend the Ithaca Crop Mob joined Nathaniel of Remembrance Farm in Trumansburg to observe the rite of the harvest. Remembrance Farm, one of the three farms of the Full Plate Farm Collective CSA, specializes in salad greens, root vegetables, and eggs. On Saturday we met to harvest the onions that would feed the CSA's more than 500 members, as well as area restaurants and others through Regional Access.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

July Crop Mob at Sweet Land Farm- Recap!

Unfortunately there are no pictures from this event- but please visit Sweet Land's website to see photos of their beautiful farm!

July's oppressive heat and humidity came to a cool, breezy end last Saturday morning. The 70-degree temperatures, along with mostly sunny skies and a cool breeze, welcomed 15 crop mobbers to Sweet Land Farm in Trumansburg at 9 a.m. for some midsummer crop maintenance fun!

Paul, one of Sweet Land's farmers, began by giving us a tour of their CSA distribution site and a quick description of their farm. Paul Martin and Evangeline Sarat and their two children take care of 34 acres on Route 96, just outside of downtown Trumansburg. Their CSA-only farm currently has 400 members for its summer CSA; Sweet Land also has a winter CSA during the colder months. A third of their tillable acreage is devoted to growing a great diversity of annual vegetables, and they also have strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and flowers, which, along with some vegetables, are available as U-Pick options for their members. Sweet Land adheres to the NOFA-NY Farmers Pledge, a document that advocates principles of moral integrity and environmental and social sustainability.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ithaca Crop Mob in the press

Here's a list of publications that have covered the Ithaca Crop Mob. This page will be updated from time to time, so be sure to check back!

"Ithaca's Crop Mob Saves the Beans" - Ithaca's Food Web

"Mob Rule" -The Ithaca Post


Thanks to all the reporters, photographers, and mobbers who helped make these wonderful articles happen. Let us know f you'd like to add anything to the list!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

June Crop Mob at Early Morning Farm- Recap & Pictures!

"Take thy spade,
It is thy pencil; take thy seeds, thy plants,
they are thy colours."
-William Mason, The English Garden, 1782

"If it weren't for the last minute, nothing would ever get done." - Anonymous

The solstice may not have arrived yet, but it is definitely summer in Ithaca. Last Wednesday a small Crop Mob gathered (in 85+ degree heat!) at an Early Morning owned land plot in Lansing to plant potatoes for the farm's CSA and farmers' market patrons. Aided by several Early Morning employees, our dozen or so volunteers set to work in the hot afternoon sun.

Monday, May 10, 2010

May Crop Mob at Kestral Perch Berry Farm- Recap & Photos!

Many thanks to Jim Bosjolie for the great photos!
"More grows in the garden than the gardener sows." - Spanish proverb

Ithaca's last frost date is in early May, and we were all reminded of that fact this past weekend. Weather reports for Saturday warned of strong winds, a steep temperature decline into freezing, and an 80% chance of precipitation. So it was with some trepidation- and a strong sense of purpose- that the Crop Mob gathered at Katie Creeger's Kestral Perch Berry Farm at Ecovillage on Saturday morning. 

But imagine our surprise when the gray-blue clouds above our heads gave way to warm, yellow sunshine when we began to work!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April Crop Mob at The Good Life Farm- Recap & Photos!

Thanks to Matt Stillerman for the great photos!

"The diligent farmer plants trees, of which he himself will never see the fruit." — Cicero

On a sunny Sunday morning in early spring, the Ithaca Crop Mob assembled (for the first time!) at The Good Life Farm in Interlaken, NY. The feeling in the air was one of excitement, optimism, and energy- and a bit of nervous anticipation about how our first mob- and a full day mob at that- was going to be!

Some of us came early, carpooling with neighbors and new friends. Others brought their families or a buddy or two. We had an unexpectedly high turnout- it was really inspiring! The weather was perfect- clear blue skies, bright sun, and a pleasant wind greeted us as we congregated in front of Melissa and Garrett's barn to learn about our task: planting apple trees.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Crop Mobbing Around the World

Thanks to Rachel Vanderpool Rosario for this amazing video about the concept of crop mobbing in the Dominican Republic!

I'm thrilled that this idea is generating interest in Ithaca! My family and I are from the Dominican Republic. Just a few outside of the capital city where I grew up, in a province called San Cristobal, a group of farmers has been gathering at each other's farms for over 30years to help weed, sow, and harvest a variety of crops. The same ideas outlined in the Ithaca group of what crop mobbing is apply to this farmer's organization. I've had the privilege to see them work. The comraderie is beautiful. I hope that we can foster a similar practice and community bond here in Ithaca. Here is a short documentary about these farmers:

Friday, March 12, 2010

Crop Mobbing's NC Origins

Crop Mobbing is not a new concept. We have our roots in Amish barn-raising, Finnish talkoot, Turkish imece, Cherokee gadugi, and countless other traditions around the globe that have existed as long as there have been agricultural societies. At the core of all of these traditions is cooperative volunteerism and a do-it-yourself attitude (with a little help from your friends and neighbors).

We borrow the name "Crop Mob" from a group of innovative farmers from the Triangle area of North Carolina. In 2008, after years of sitting in meetings to talk over issues facing farmers in their region, they decided to try something a little different, something that wouldn't require them to take time away from their work. These farmers began gathering at each others' farms so they could talk while working side by side. Over time, their get-togethers swelled to include "young, landless, and wannabe farmers," and, eventually, anyone interested in farming-for-a-day. Today, a crop mob in the Triangle area can draw fifty or more people.

Crop Mobbing Mentioned in the NYT

Crop Mobbing covered in the New York Times! Check it out here.

From the article:

“Who brought their own wheelbarrow?” Rob Jones asked the group of 20-somethings gathered on a muddy North Carolina farm on a chilly January Sunday. Hands shot up and wheelbarrows were pulled from pickups sporting Led Zeppelin and biodiesel bumper stickers, then parked next to a mountain of soil. “We need to get that dirt into those beds over there in the greenhouse,” he said, nodding toward a plastic-roofed structure a few hundred feet away. “The rest of you can come with me to move trees and clear brush to make room for more pasture. Watch out for poison ivy.”

Bobby Tucker, the 28-year-old co-owner of Okfuskee Farm in rural Silk Hope, looked eagerly at the 50-plus volunteers bundled in all manner of flannel and hand-knits. In five hours, these pop-up farmers would do more on his fledgling farm than he and his three interns could accomplish in months. “It’s immeasurable,” he said of the gift of same-day infrastructure.

It’s the beauty of being Crop Mobbed.

The Crop Mob, a monthly word-of-mouth (and -Web) event in which landless farmers and the agricurious descend on a farm for an afternoon, has taken its traveling work party to 15 small, sustainable farms. Together, volunteers have contributed more than 2,000 person-hours, doing tasks like mulching, building greenhouses and pulling rocks out of fields.

“The more tedious the work we have, the better,” Jones said, smiling. “Because part of Crop Mob is about community and camaraderie, you find there’s nothing like picking rocks out of fields to bring people together.” Read more...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Farmer Information

Katie Church serves as the Farmer Crop Mob Coordinator. Please email her at with any questions or to set up a crop mob at your farm.

Hello Farmers!
My name is Katie Church, and I coordinate the Full Plate Collective, a CSA collective in the Ithaca area.
I am not writing with that hat on, however, but with the hat of "interested in starting a crop mobbing crew in the area".
I first heard about Crop Mobbing in an article in the New York Times magazine a few weeks back. Turns out, other people have heard of fit too, and I met recently with a small group of people who would like to get the idea rolling in our area.

In a nutshell: a crop mob is a group of community volunteers who are interested in farming, or just want to get their hands dirty now and then, and who value small farms in their community. They willingly attend - or mob - a farm for a few hours once a month to do low-skill labor that could benefit by many hands. Each work time is about 4 hours. No money is exchanged. At the end of the work session a meal is shared, and the mobbers move on to a new farm the following month.

Crop Mobbing FAQ

What is crop mobbing?

Crop mob is an event held once a month at a different farm each month. Members of the "crop mob"- which includes community members and other farmers- receive a time, date and location in advance, and on that day, they show up prepared to lend a hand to the host farm for a morning or afternoon (generally about 4 hours). At the end, a meal is provided by the host farm, and farmers and mobbers eat together.

Who are crop mobbers?

Anyone and everyone. Crop mobs are composed of farmers, gardeners, families, college students, school clubs, volunteer groups, CSA members, farmers-market-goers, outdoor enthusiasts, innovative exercisers, food lovers, aspiring agrarians, and the simply ag-curious, along with their friends, neighbors, siblings, parents, grandparents, and kids. There is no age limit or skill set required. We are just people helping people.

What kinds of tasks do crop mobbers do?

It depends on the farm. A task list will be announced along with the date, time, and location of a crop mob. Possible tasks include but are not limited to: weeding, rock picking, "gleaning" (harvesting crops that would otherwise go unharvested), tree or transplant planting, putting up fencing, setting up a hoop house, etc. Some crop mobbers may volunteer to help with meal preparation for the mob. There is always a task for everyone, regardless of age or skill set.