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Crop mobs as agents for good

By Andrea Weigl | The News & Observer

Steven Horton of Zebulon loved the idea of participating in a crop mob: Volunteers descend on a local sustainable farm to help dig sweet potatoes, build a greenhouse or do other chores. But the events, in Silk Hope, Moncure and Snow Camp, always seemed too far away.

So Horton, 25, decided to recruit volunteers for crop mobs in Raleigh and other communities to the east. "It's a way for people who want to volunteer in the food movement to have a hands-on, active engagement on a farm or community garden," he says.

The term "crop mob," if not the concept, seems to have originated in the Triangle. Eight such events have been held since October 2008 at small-scale farms and gardens primarily in Chapel Hill and areas to the west. [An organizer declined to be interviewed because I had not attended a crop mob event.] A meal and socializing follow the hard work on the farm.

Horton hopes to plan a crop mob event in early September at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle's farm off Tryon Road in Raleigh, where he regularly volunteers. The nonprofit group works to alleviate hunger in seven counties.

Horton, who graduated from N.C. State University with a degree in environmental technology, is fascinated by the local food movement.

As Horton sees it, a crop mob could help an organic farmer with a large project, build a community garden for a church or school or create a backyard garden for someone in a "food desert," an area with limited access to healthy foods, serviced mainly by fast-food restaurants.

The need for good, healthy food, Horton thinks, is something to which everyone can relate.


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