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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid