- Crop mob
Crop Mob is primarily a group of volunteers who come together to build and empower communities by working side by side and doing the work it takes a community to do. Experienced farmers and gardeners also volunteer their time to share their knowledge with their peers and the next generation of agrarians. The membership is dynamic, changing and growing with each new mob event. Crop Mob has been described as "a modern, Internet-connected take on the agrarian culture that faded with the industrialization of farming. In a tough market, crop mobs can give small farms a shot in the arm and connect them to potential customers."
In the past farming was much more labor intensive. Activities like planting, harvesting, processing, and barnraising often required the collective effort of entire communities. This interdependence fostered strong communities. As farming became more mechanized and reliant on petroleum based inputs, it became a more independent and solitary career. Today in the industrial farming system a few people may manage hundreds or even thousands of acres.
The number of small farms, those fewer than 10 acres (40,000 m2), in the Research Triangle Park area grew 14 percent from 2002 to 2007, from about 4,400 to 5,000, according to Roland McReynolds, executive director of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association. By comparison, the total number of farms of all sizes statewide dropped two percent during the same period, McReynolds says . These farms are growing diversified crops on small acreage, using only low levels of mechanization, and without the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers. This is a much more labor intensive way of farming that brings back the need for community participation.
Many crop mob participants are apprentices or interns on these sustainable farms. The need for community participation matches a desire for community among young people interested in getting into farming. The crop mob was conceived as a way of building the community necessary to practice this kind of agriculture and to put the power to muster this group in the hands of our future food producers.
While Crop Mob started in the Triangle region of North Carolina in October of 2008, the model has since spread to more than a dozen regions throughout the United States.
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