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NC State Extension

Crop Mob Builds Rice Paddies at Edible Earthscapes Page 1

Photos and text by Debbie Roos, Agricultural Extension Agent.

March 1, 2010

Crop Mob is a group of people who come together for a day to work on a farm, much like a modern day barn-raising. The work is done on small sustainable farms; no money is exchanged and the mobbers share a meal at the end, usually provided by the host farm. The Mob usually comes together about once a month.

Crop Mob originated about a year ago right here in Chatham and Orange counties. Lots of recent media attention (see links below) has led to the formation of Crop Mobs around the country, including Washington, California, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, New York, and Georgia!

Sunday’s Crop Mob was at Edible Earthscapes in Moncure. Host farmers Jason and Haruka Oatis farmed for several years in Japan and specialize in Japanese and Asian heirloom varieties. They operate a CSA and sell at the Midtown Farmers’ Market in Raleigh and the Western Wake Farmers’ Market in Cary.

Jason and Haruka are true innovators…they are growing rice on their Moncure farm! They harvested their first crop last September, and just received a grant from RAFI-USA that will help them expand their rice production and purchase a rice huller.

The rice paddy expansion got off to a great start when a record number of Crop Mobbers descended upon Edible Earthscapes on Sunday. About 100 folks brought shovels, rakes, hoes, and wheel barrows and spent the afternoon building rice paddies, repairing the roof on the intern house, and helping to cook for the mobbers.

Learn more at the Crop Mob website.

Recent articles about Crop Mob:

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The mob gathers at the start of the afternoon for instructions on the day's tasks.

The mob gathers at the start of the afternoon for instructions on the day’s tasks.

Jason and Devin from Edible Earthscapes demonstrate how to build up the sides of the beds to form a rice paddy.

And just like that, the mob gets to it… mobbers quickly learned that if you didn’t have knee-high rubber boots on, your best bet was to go barefoot or you would never recover your shoes from the sucking mud. I was one of the barefoot ones, and it was a little chilly but not too bad as long as you didn’t stand still for too long. And come on, who doesn’t like the feeling of mud between their toes?

Bobby and Gray rake the mud to create a nice seed bed for the rice.

Compost was brought down the hill and worked into the beds.

Building rice terraces

Edible Earthscapes farmer Jason Oatis (at far right in photo) pauses from his work on the rice paddies to check in with some mobbers.

Kabui (at right with hose) adds the crucial ingredient – water – to create just the right muddy mix.

The majority of the mobbers were under 30 and many were farmers or aspiring farmers. There were a few youth under 18 and pretty good representation from the over-40 crowd! All ages are welcome. No matter your ability, a mobber can always find something to do on a farm.

Isn’t that a lovely sight?
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