Image credit: Crop Mob
News of a large group of landless young people invading a farm tends to bring images of revolution. And NC-based Crop Mob does indeed have revolution in mind, but the group's methods are more about giving than taking. As I noted in my original post on Crop Mob, the organization is part of a wider resurgence of young people taking up farming. It was borne out of a discussion group on the problems facing young farmers, but rather than sit around talking about challenges, the group decided it was better off getting things done. So, armed with hoes, shovels, wheelbarrows, and bucket-loads of good will, the Mob has been descending on local farms to offer a helping hand. And after a full year of Mobbing, the idea is spreading.
(Usual Disclaimer/Declaration of Bias: As always, when I write about my community, I know some of the people involved and am honored to call them my friends. I try not to let that cloud my judgment, but nobody is perfect.)Last month marked the one year anniversary of the first crop mob at Piedmont Biofarm (home of a future experiment in double cropping solar with agriculture), and the milestone was marked with a return to the original farm, a day of hard work and, I suspect, a good deal of partying afterward. This concept of young people who are interested in farming, but have no means to get started, simply rolling up their sleeves and getting on with it has sparked a huge amount of interest.
As Victoria Bouloubasis notes in her piece on the Crop Mob anniversary in the Triangle's Independent Weekly, Crop Mobs provide both a social gathering place, an arena to share knowledge, and a vital boost to hard working farmers. And just like the Carrboro Urban Farm Tour (organized by folks from the same activist scene), Crop Mob is another example of folks redefining who gets to call themselves a farmer:
"Everybody has their own definitions of a farmer and what constitutes a farm. I don't have a fixed definition of a farmer in my mind," says organizer Rob Jones, 27. "A lot of the folks involved in Crop Mob are growing food on a significant scale that they kind of define themselves. People have to claim it for themselves. A lot of the Crop Mobbers are interns and apprentices on farms around the region. Many are landless. A lot of it is coming together and helping each other out with the farms they work on."
And having been mainly focused on the Eastern end of NC's Triangle region, the idea is now spreading its wings. According to the Crop MOb website, a second Western Triangle Crop Mob has just been formed. Could this be the first of many?