In the greater Athens area small family farms are returning after over 6 decades of rapid decline in numbers.
The new farmers are both young families and people retiring from other jobs and they need the opportunity to learn from each other and some help to make their new farms grow. Crop Mob Athens is doing both.
This Athens Mob is a volunteer group of farmers and non-farmers working together on designated days to get a lot of farm work done in a very short time. "It makes a meaningful impact on a farm," explained Amanda Willis, co-founder of Crop Mob Athens. By working together, volunteers can accomplish as much as a farmer could do by himself in a month--like the legendary barn raising of yore. "I don't even think of it as work," Amanda said. "I always feel invigorated after working with crop mob."
Workdays always end with a feast for the workers provided by Earth Fare Market, Daily Groceries and local farmers.
"Since 2007, there has been an uptick in farming in Northeast Georgia," explained Craig Paige, co-founder of P.L.A.C.E. In 1900 46% of the local economy was farming, but by 2000 it dropped to less than 1 percent. "It was just so cheap to ship food in." However, with rising fuel prices and other variables, local farms can make food available so our food source is not so vulnerable to outside factors, Craig explained as one of the motivating factors behind Crop Mob.
Amanda has another goal. She'd like to see much more of the food children eat at school grown locally.
Kate Munson-Dixon, also of P.L.A.C.E. emphasized that Crop Mob is also a great way for new farmers to learn from each other. Even volunteers who are gardeners or who grew up on farms may have experience to give to new farmers, she explained.
CLICK HERE to link to the conversation with Amanda, Kate and Craig as they talk about the return of local agriculture, the benefits we all receive, and how Crop Mob is contributing. If the video doesn't display during the program, click on the camera icon on the upper right. If your computer OS doesn't play the recording, come to the library on Baxter St. where you can listen from one of their computers. Just bring your earphones, or buy some at the desk for $2.00.
Next Crop Mob is July 1, 2012. See Crop Mob Athens Facebook page for details or to join in.