Thursday, March 11, 2010

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.

What are the goals of crop mobbing?

The goals are many and varied. One is community-building, fostering interconnectedness between Ithaca-area farms and residents. Another is farmer support- sometimes a big task can be daunting for a small farm, and, as the saying goes, "many hands make light work." Crop mobbing also addresses the needs of aspiring farmers, people who are interested in a future in farming but who need to gain on-farm experience before committing to a career in agriculture.

Do crop mobbers get paid?

No. We are strictly volunteers; there is no currency exchanged for any of the work that crop mobbers do. Our reward is the continued success and flourishing of our beloved local farms and the togetherness we share on these monthly gatherings. Meals, too, are provided for free by the host farm.

How do I get involved?

Join the Ithaca Crop Mob listserv to receive announcements on the time and place of the next Crop Mob. To subscribe, send an email with "subscribe" in the subject line to Announcements will typically be made a week or two in advance and reminders will be posted a few days before.

Should I RSVP for a crop mob before attending?

RSVPing is helpful so farmers know what group size to expect and how much food to make. However, it is not mandatory, and members of the Ithaca Crop Mob are always encouraged to bring family members or friends or anyone willing to come along spontaneously. If you are a member of our listserv, you will receive periodic emails announcing crop mobs. RSVP for a crop mob event by clicking the "RSVP" link in each crop mob announcement, or, alternatively, sending an email titled "RSVP" to In the body of the email please include the number of guests you intend to bring and any special dietary or other considerations.

I am attending a crop mob. What should I bring with me?

Wear clothes that you can get dirty, including comfortable, closed-toe shoes or boots. Dress weather-appropriately; crop mobs are held rain or shine, so bring rain gear and galoshes or a sun hat if appropriate. Sunscreen is often a good idea; gloves may be as well. Bring your own place settings (plate, bowl, cup, silverware, napkin) for the meal. Most importantly, bring your own water- a water bottle works just fine most days, but bring a liter or two when it's hot and sunny. Sometimes a farm will request you bring tools, if you have them. Extra shovels, spades, and hand tools for others to use are a kind gesture, if you have some to spare.

Are crop mobs ever canceled?

Not usually. Crop mobs are held regardless of heat, cold, rain, snow, or sun. The only weather-related exception is severe thunderstorms. As Bill Bryson once said, "There are only three things that can kill a farmer: lightning, rolling over in a tractor, and old age." We don't want anyone to get electrocuted, so if there is reason to believe that severe thunderstorms will plague the day of a scheduled crop mob, there may be a cancellation or a pushed-back date. That being said, sometimes the task planned is indoors (for example, hanging garlic in a barn) and can still be held even if there is thunder and lightning. Never assume a crop mob is canceled. If it is, a message will be sent to all members well in advance.

What is served at the meals?

Farmers are in charge of supplying meals for crop mobbers. If you have a special dietary concern, please include it in the body of your RSVP email to and we will try our best to accommodate you. Remember to bring your own place settings (plate, bowl, cup, silverware, napkin) for the meal.

Are carpooling options available?

Yes! Please let us know if you would like to offer a ride or need a lift. We will try our best to match you with a driver or riders!

I'm a farmer. How can I host a crop mob at my farm?

See the Farmer Information page to find out how to host a crop mob.

If you have any additional questions, please email

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