Monday, November 21, 2011

October 2011 Crop Mob (Stick and Stone Farm)

A genuine man goes to the roots. To be a radical is no more than that: to go to the roots.  - Jose Marti

Autumn is root vegetable harvest time! As Katie says, "All summer long beet and carrot plants have been channeling nutrients down their leaves, sending tiny roots into the soil, and collecting energy in their orange and red sweet and crisp roots." First frost is when many summer vegetables leave us- tomatoes, eggplants, peppers- but others get tastier. When starchy roots like parsnips, carrots and celery root (celeriac) get cold, they begin converting those starches to sugars. Cabbage family plants (kale, collards, Brussels sprouts) protect themselves from freezing by increasing the amount of sugars in their cells- the extra sugars act as a sort of anti-freeze. Roots can be left in the ground over a few frosts, but must be pulled before winter freezes the ground solid. And as crop mobbers know, root harvest is best done with 30-some volunteers, on a warm, sunny day like this:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Welcome to the Ithaca Crop Mob!

We are a group of farmers and community members who love our local farms. Once a month, we assemble and "mob" a local farm, putting our hands to work to accomplish a goal. Afterwards, we share a meal. All are welcome!

To join, email us at See you on a farm!

Rachel, Kate, and Sam

Thursday, August 18, 2011

July 2011 Crop Mob (Sweet Land Farm)- Recap & Photos!

It is better to irrigate all seeds, for you do not know which one will bear fruit first. - Burundi proverb

Water has been the theme of this season- either too much of it or too little. In the past couple of weeks we have had rain relief -- a couple of inches in one particularly generous day, and ample showers throughout for most of the area -- but this summer's drought isn't quite out of mind. Katie, one of the crop mob coordinators, sent this email to her CSA members that summed up the situation well:

"As you may be aware, this growing season has been more challenging than most so far.  We started off the season with sooo much rain, too much to plant things in, meaning that direct seeded crops went in the ground later than usual, and the transplants carefully tended in the greenhouses got leggy and stressed before they could go in the ground.  Many of the Spring crops (hakurei turnips, radishes, spinach) as well as some of the summer crops (first plantings of beets and carrots)didn't make it.  The wet ground dried hard and crusty and the baby roots couldn't stretch out (sorry to make it sound so dramatic!).  And of course, until just the past couple of days, we've had so much heat and so little rain.  Turns out vegetables need water, steadily.  The farms have been able to keep on on irrigating some of the crops, but some of them aren't set up for irrigation and/or the water supplies aren't able to cover everything - choices have to be made."

Our July crop mob at Sweet Land farm happened right at the end of the drought, and we got to see how our organic farmers deal with dry-weather woes.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

June 2011 Crop Mob (Red Tail Farm)- Recap & Photos!

In 2011, Ithaca celebrated the Solstice with thanks for rain and cool breezes. The overly wet spring had given way to a June drought as temperatures climbed into August-level highs before abating. Here in early July, the weather forecast suggests we may be looking forward to another hot, dry spell. Summer, with its gifts and curses, is here! And so are the veggies (we give great thanks to the farmers for tending them when the rain wouldn't come): lettuces, broccoli, collards, kale, chard, mustard greens, garlic scapes, and our first taste of cucumbers, basil, and zucchini. Rhubarb and strawberries have come and gone, to be substituted (but never replaced, of course) with cherries and raspberries, serviceberries and mulberries. I'll be especially looking forward to the blueberry crop coming shortly after, after all the hours the crop mob has spent this year in near-worship, kneeling in front of those acid-loving bushes.
A rare, almost-ripe blueberry...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

June update!

Whew! We Crop Mob organizers have been busy so far this season. Since we last updated the blog, we've had two mobs:

This farm in Cayutaville is a unique twist on the CSA "Community Supported Agriculture" concept. It's a 100% working member CSA, in which all of the members who receive food from the farm work on the farm in order to pay for their share. They call it an "agriculture supported community." The Crop Mob put up fencing, planted potatoes and _ with the members.

At Sapsquatch is a sugarbush in Enfield, we learned a bit about maple sugaring's rich history as a pillar of American independence in pioneer days and talked about climate change's effect on sugaring while bringing in wood for next year. Sapsquatch's syrup is sold exclusively by word of mouth and is also traded for volunteer labor during the season.

We also had the pleasure of being featured in a video by Jim Bosjolie who attended the Kestrel Perch Berry Farm mob. You can check that out here.

We're gearing up for our June crop mob on Saturday, June 26th at Red Tail Farm, a diverse farm with vegetables, bees, chickens and berries. We will be renovating a blueberry patch. Come join us! Send an email to to get in on the blueberry action!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

End-of-April 2011 Crop Mob (Kestrel Perch Berry Farm)- Recap & Photos!

Thanks to Sam Bosco for the photos!  Got pictures or stories to share? Comment below or email us at 

"When any lagged behind, the cry of "blueberries" was most effectual to bring them up."
- Henry David Thoreau

It's been a wet spring- really. Record rainfall for April (more than double the average) has left many Ithaca farms behind schedule or simply unable to plant anything yet (check out the Ithaca Journal for an article on this subject). Wet soil compacts easily, so even walking on it, let alone driving machinery on it, is risky. All the water and humidity can breed disease too. Thankfully, we're experiencing some sunny, dry days now in the beginning/middle of May.

At Kestrel Perch Berry Farm on West Hill in Ithaca, things were wet (just-dug holes filling up with water, low-lying parts an utter mudslide), but plantable for the most part. It's times like these that give many of us in the crop mob purpose- the feeling that we're delivering some emergency help to a farm in need. On April 30th, the Crop Mob came together to give some love and planting help to Katie Creeger of Kestrel Perch Berry Farm.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

April 2011 Crop Mob (Good Life Farm)- Recap & Photos!

Thanks to Sam Bosco for the beautiful photos!  Got pictures or stories to share? Comment below or email us at!

"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now." - Chinese Proverb

 The Good Life Farm in Interlaken, NY

April: after the Latin aperire, "to open"; or, after the Greek aphrilis, "Aphrodite's month." When daffodils started blooming downtown, it seemed that spring and Ithaca had finally reached some sort of agreement. It's easy to curse Ithaca's moderate continental climate--our substantial variation in temperature over the course of the year--in the dark depths of winter and the oppressively hot peaks of summer. But in the spring, most of us are thankful for our four distinct seasons.

The coming of April means the Ithaca Crop Mob is turning two. We're officially perennial! The coltsfoot, winter aconite, and snowdrops along the side of the roads are celebrating with us. The longevity of the crop mob is the kind of truth that astounds me while also being pretty unsurprising and mundane. Well, what did you think would happen? I ask myself, and I shrug. A year ago around this time, ICM's first mob assembled to plant a couple hundred trees at The Good Life Farm in Interlaken, a stirringly earnest investment in the future. Plant trees for those who come after you; plant trees when you're here to stay.

Some outcomes can be pointed out at the end of a hard day's work. 200 pounds of squash harvested, an acre of beets weeded, 2000 cloves of garlic planted. Then there are the outcomes that take a little longer to appear, are harder to measure, and are more easily felt than communicated. Every time I go to a crop mob, these outcomes sort of flicker around me: a volunteer who found a kindred spirit in a nearby farm; somebody teaching others something they themselves learned last year; friends who might never have met if not for the crop mob. These are the indicators of social change. It's something we rarely talk about as organizers of the crop mob- there are always logistics to talk about first, the wheres and whens. Only occasionally do we get a glimpse the what of it all. This year, for continuity, for a more holistic understanding, the Crop Mob came back to The Good Life Farm on April 9th for the second planting of apple trees.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

March 2011 Crop Mob (Ithaca Youth Farm Project at Three Swallows Farm)- Recap & Photos!

A special thanks to Mary Brock for the wonderful picture slideshow of this crop mob!

And another appreciative shout out to Carisa Fallon of the local television show Get Foodie for visiting us and filming! We look forward to seeing the show and will post it as soon as it becomes available!

Got pictures or stories to share? Comment or email us at!

“Now is the accepted time, not tomorrow, not some more convenient season. It is today that our best work can be done and not some future day or future year. It is today that we fit ourselves for the greater usefulness of tomorrow. Today is the seed time, now are the hours of work, and tomorrow comes the harvest and the playtime.”
-- W. E. B. Du Bois

March is the first month on the Roman calendar, and in 2011, it's is the first month on the Ithaca Crop Mob's calendar too. Representing the first sign of the Zodiac (Aries), named for Mars, the god of war, this month has a harsh reputation. Perhaps it's because winter winds seem even more brutal and cruel to those restless for spring. Epithets like "the long, hungry month of March" (Newfoundland) also remind us that by this time of year, many cold-climate homesteaders are scraping the bottom of their crocks and root cellars. And there's something sort of fierce about the determination with which the first signs of spring surface- the pungent skunk cabbage, the oniony ramp, the deceptively delicate-looking crocus.

I remember hearing when I was young that March "comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb." No such luck this March- Ithaca got hit with a snow day on the 23rd and the bitter cold kept on. With the Ithaca Crop Mob's characteristic luck, though, a warm, sunny streak followed us to Three Swallows Farm on the equinox to lend a hand and learn from the Ithaca Youth Farm Project.

The Youth Farm Project is an innovative (and ingenious) collaboration between the Southside Community Center, the Lehman Alternative Community School, the Ithaca Waldorf School, the Full Plate Farm Collective and other community organizations. Here's how it works: local high school students take summer jobs farming and managing the organic, biodynamic vegetable farm at Three Swallows Farm (funding is gleaned from the Youth Employment Services, the county, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and other sources). Youth from different backgrounds meet, mingle, and bond over farming. The produce they grow goes to LACS, Beverly J. Martin Elementary's Snack Program, Congo Square Market and the Full Plate's U-pick operations. This is IYF's second year, and enthusiasm is as high as ever.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Join us for the 2011 Crop Mob season!

Ithaca Crop Mob is gearing up for its 2011 season. If you'd like to receive updates about crop mobs, email and we'll put you on our list. You can also join us on facebook at

Hope to see you out on a farm this year!

Kate, Sam, and Rachel