Let’s Meet on The Farm!
Back in 2008, I joined in some community and local food systems organizing happening primarily in Pittsboro and Carrboro, called the Triangle Food Commons. It gathered some of the brightest minds in the region to identify gaps in the local food system and was a predecessor to CEFS’ statewide farm-to-fork initiative. Here Rob Jones and I began working together on issues we saw in the food system, primarily those effecting young/new farmers, a large part of our peer group at the time.
During a TFC meeting of young/new farmers held at Spence’s Farm, the idea for Crop Mob was birthed when some of the young farm interns around the table said, “we’d rather meet on the farm and talk about our issues while we are working”! I think a white collar approach to organizing these young farmers, who are more comfortable between the rows with dirt under their nails, was feeling stuffy and less productive. Thus, the inaugural mobbing took place weeks later at Piedmont Biofarm.
Meeting in this manner has became regular. And a strong sense of community was built by sharing in the physical work, side by side, of growing healthy local food. It has helped reduce the isolation of being a farmhand (intern) on small farms in the rural Piedmont and empowered these future farmers with the ability to muster many hands to make light work of big farm projects. And the idea made so much sense, it spread across the nation.
Tonight, I attended an urban food system organizing meeting in Southeast Raleigh. The urban farmers could be counted on one hand, and they were given community rockstar status. At the end of the meeting, someone said, “why don’t we meet on the farm next time”! The farmers exclaimed, “bring it on, but don’t wear your stilettos!" The organizers agreed and I had a bit of deja vu.
I'm looking forward to meeting more folks between the rows in downtown Raleigh and hope these urban farmers reap similar benefits to the crop mobbers.