Small farmers benefit from 'crop mobs'

Jamie Vidich looked over his acre of farm land and considered the tasks that had to be done that day. Remove diseased eggplant and tomato plants, pull irrigation tape, make soil boxes for new seeds, uproot weeds -- normally it would take him days to finish. It's usually just him, a brother and a friend working the land at Bear Island Farm in Colleton River Plantation. But Sunday, the chores only took a few hours.

More than 15 volunteers came to the small farm as part of a growing trend of helping hands. Popping up all over the country, "crop mobs" are loose organizations of volunteers that organize trips to assist independent farmers with daily tasks.

"There's more people out than I've ever seen here," Vidich said.

The idea grew out of North Carolina's Triangle region when a group of farmers got together about three years ago to help one of their own with a harvest. Crop mobs have quickly evolved, an outgrowth of the recent interest in organic and locally grown foods that has swept the nation. More than 50 groups now exist, according to the clearinghouse website

A crop mob based out of Savannah sprouted earlier this spring.

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