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.