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

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease 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.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid