"Crop Mobbing"



Social networking technology has contributed to the spread of a new group activity: crop mobbing.  In a modern-day equivalent of barn-raising, groups of young farmers and city-dwelling locavores descend on farms to offer their labor without expectation of compensation other than a hearty meal.  They focus their efforts on family-owned organic farms.  Not everyone is enthusiastic about the phenomenon:
Some dismiss crop mobs as urbanites playing at farming, a hands-on variation of the popular "Farmville" Facebook game. Pamela Riney-Kehrberg, history professor at Iowa State University, likened crop mobs to "agricultural tourism."  "You go in, spend a nice weekend, get your fingers a little dirty. It's nice but not a significant contribution to agriculture," she said.

Supporters would vehemently disagree, noting that the experience offers networking for small farmers and an interesting experience for the "agricurious."  The phenomenon began two years ago in North Carolina, and has now spread to other states.

Link.  Photo: Jim Gehrz.  Crop Mob website.

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the thing i hate about social networking is the people always see a need to make up a stupid name for what their doing....."crop mobbing"
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The professor's full quote, from the article:

"You go in, spend a nice weekend, get your fingers a little dirty. It's nice but not a significant contribution to agriculture," she said. "They're taking none of the risk. Farming is something you do 365 days a year. It's enormously difficult. [Attending a crop mob] doesn't really tell you what it is like to manage on a daily basis."

I didn't get the impression that anyone was expecting to learn to run their own farm. The professor seems to have a bit of a high horse about this. (Either that or she was misinformed about the point of all this.)

I liked this quote, from a farmer:

But he liked the idea of urbanites learning about agriculture. "A lot of kids are two and three generations removed from farming," he said. "Anytime you can get somebody back in a rural setting, seeing what it takes to put food on the table -- that's great."
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Thank you for the idea. I now have a snappy way of getting townies out to my property to do some weed clearing. I just have to come up with a fancy name for weeds. :/
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Agreed, she's a pessimist. Who says you need to make a *significant* contribution to agriculture? Small scale, organic farmers usually need all the help they can get to stay in business. Getting all the pants in ground or weeded or harvested in a short time period helps the individual farm a lot. Organic farming often replaces chemicals with labor. And locavores want to meet the people who raise/grow their food and feel connected to where their food comes from. It's a win-win.

Even if it's a fad that will pass, no one is being harmed by it, so why bash it?
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