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Volunteer 'mobs' donate elbow grease to sustainable farms

Nonprofit & Social Cause

When we wrote about Australian Permablitz back in 2008, we were particularly taken by the instant urban-gardening gratification that could be achieved by the group’s intense weekend “blitz” approach. Borrowing a page from Permablitz’s playbook, The Crop Mob is a North Carolina-based organization through which farm-loving volunteers descend on one lucky sustainable farm for an afternoon each month and accomplish tasks it would take the farmers themselves months to do alone. On sustainable farms, work tends to be done using more manual labour than on industrial farms, where mechanized equipment and chemicals have come to be substitutes. There’s obviously a high cost to that petroleum-based approach—as green-minded consumers the world over have come to realize—which is why there are growing numbers of twentysomethings taking to the land themselves, hoping to do it right. Toward that end, The Crop Mob aims to build the community necessary to practice sustainable agriculture and to make that community available to the world’s future food producers. Monthly Crop Mobs have been going on in the North Carolina area since late 2008. Tasks taken on by Crop Mob teams have included building a greenhouse and removing rocks from fields; so far, the effort has contributed more than 2,000 person-hours to 20 or so farms, according to The New York Times Magazine. Many volunteer participants in Crop Mobs are apprentices or interns on sustainable farms themselves; others are experienced farmers and gardeners willing to share their knowledge with the next generation of agrarians. Either way, no money is exchanged at Crop Mob work days—rather, the hosting farm typically provides a meal for everyone. Crop Mob uses a Google Group to keep everyone informed of upcoming events, while a map displays where in the U.S. existing mobs have already been formed. For those who want to set up something similar in other parts of the world, a “Getting Started” guide is also available. Sustainable entrepreneurs: be inspired! Spotted by: Judy McRae Photo by: TraceRamsey



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