What is a crop mob?
Crop mobs are teams of volunteers who work to support sustainable farming and gain a sense of camaraderie of shared work and community.
A crop mob generally involves two kinds of volunteers: a collection of urban or suburban neophytes to farming, and some experienced farmers and/or gardeners to help guide the first group. This team shows up to a farm and provides volunteer labor to assist with one or two specific farming tasks for an afternoon. The tasks are usually simple such as removing rocks from a field, mulching, harvesting or clearing brush.
Crop mobs attract people that are curious about farming, those that want to socialize with like-minded people, persons that want to share the camaraderie of shared labor toward a worthy cause such as sustainable agriculture, and those who seek a sense of community. Urbanites get an opportunity to connect with rural residents and gain experiences to put them back in touch with their food and what it takes to put that food on the table.
Farmers gain a large labor force where many hands make light work, and get jobs done that may have taken them and their smaller staff a month to accomplish. All the farmer provides in return is a meal for the volunteers; no money changes hands.
How does a crop mob happen? Often they are communicated by word of mouth or are web or tweet driven. Why do crop mobs happen? Sustainable or organic farming is usually done on smaller acreage using low levels of mechanization without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Therefore, it is much more labor intensive. In the past, farmers relied on large families, other farmers or the entire community as their workforce. Crop mobs are an effort to support sustainable and organic farming and to restore that sense of community. For more information on how to support your local farming community, contact your local Michigan State University Extension office.