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

Unpaid Kurdish Fighters Sign of Economic Woes

Sharp cuts in Kurdistan's budget by Baghdad, falling oil revenue, coping with refugees, inflated public sector have hit regional economy hard More

Koreas Exchange List of Envoys for Family Reunion Talks

Officials will discuss date, venue and number of participants for reunion; Seoul hopes to hold event late this month More

China Targets 197 in Online Speech Crackdown

Nearly 200 punished for 'spreading rumors' online in ongoing crackdown on free speech 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.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

VOA Blogs