News / USA

'Crop Mobs' Push Americans Closer to Food They Eat

Social media plays a part in forming volunteer work days on farming cooperatives

Some people who want to be more connected to the food they eat spend time working on small farms.
Some people who want to be more connected to the food they eat spend time working on small farms.

Multimedia

Audio
Mike Osborne

In the 1930s, it took one farmer to feed every 10 Americans. Now the ratio is ten times that, and few Americans have strong ties to the food they eat or to the farmers who produce it. But a movement called Community Supported Agriculture is trying to change that.

CSA is a cooperative arrangement between farmers and the people who eat what the farmers produce. Customers share some of the risk of operating a small farm by paying farmers, in advance, for fresh food.

The movement is embraced by young people, many of whom actually go out to farms and help work the land. Not surprisingly, social media plays a central role in forming the volunteer work days. Some of these so-called 'Crop Mobs' form around Facebook pages.

Helping hands

A Place of the Heart Farm in the mountains of East Tennessee participates in community supported agriculture or CSA. With harvest season nearly complete, farmer Adrienne Gibson is cleaning out her melon patch.

"We have 23 CSA customers," says Gibson. "They subscribe to supporting the farm and in return they get a weekly basket of vegetables from May through October."

Gibson's CSA is in its seventh season, but this year, there's something new. The people who eat the food now want to help grow the food. Today, several are donating their time to help Gibson clear out the melon patch.

"I think it's wonderful that people want to come out and work on the farm and to see what it's like," she says. "I think it's a great thing and it's really helpful to us because you can get a lot of work done in a short amount of time."

In exchange, Gibson feeds the volunteers a mid-day meal of produce from the farm. One of the volunteers enjoying that meal is Lezlee Collier, who organized the work day. Collier sees labor donated to the farm as an extension of her interest in organic foods.

Farmer Adrienne Gibson participates in community supported agriculture and welcomes volunteer workers.
Farmer Adrienne Gibson participates in community supported agriculture and welcomes volunteer workers.

"It's how I want to eat my food," she says. "It's how I want my food grown and I really get to understand where my food comes from, and what goes into getting the final product."

Crop mob

Collier calls her volunteers a crop mob, a name taken from similar groups sprouting up all across the United States. The movement consists largely of young people in their late 20s and early 30s.

"It's really neat to see some younger people really into some different experiences and not strictly going to the grocery store and going home and not really thinking about where their food came from," says Collier. "I think they're a little more in tune with that."

Thinking about where food comes from is something a growing number of Americans find themselves doing, according to Vanderbilt University Professor of Community Development Jim Fraser.

"Developing a relationship between the production and the consumption of food and developing a network that's community based," says Fraser. "A movement back to organic practices and back to practices of creating food that don't rely on people being exploited in terms of labor."

Big city desert

Fraser expects the next big challenge for the community supported agriculture movement to be reinvigorating small, inner-city markets. He says these grocers are key to providing fresh food in what he refers to as big-city food deserts.

"Typically these [groceries] have focused on selling chips and soda pop, beer, and other types of food and drink products that don't produce good health outcomes," he says. "So, one of the initiatives is to kind of restore these corner stores so that they will sell fresh fruit and vegetables."

Back on the farm, volunteer Collier's agenda for her crop mob is more modest. She's just looking for fresh food, fellowship and a chance to escape the weekday cares of her office job.

"Sitting at a cubicle, you're not able to move around all that much so this is a great way to use muscles that you kind 'a forget you have when you sit at a desk all day long," she says. "It's defiantly a great way to de-stress."

You May Like

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More