Dig it: Local ‘crop mob’ trying to grow urban farming movement

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Members of Cape Fear Crop Mob work at a farm in Sampson County. The group, which provides free help while giving participants firsthand experience, is hoping to bring an urban farming documentary to Wilmington. Courtesy photos.
Members of Cape Fear Crop Mob work at a farm in Sampson County. The group, which provides free help while giving participants firsthand experience, is hoping to bring an urban farming documentary to Wilmington. Courtesy photos.

An assemblage of agriculture enthusiasts is hoping to use the silver screen to inspire would-be farmers to pick up a shovel and get to work.

The Cape Fear Crop Mob – part of national movement founded in the Tarheel state – is working to bring the documentary, “Can You Dig This,” to Carmike Cinema 16, 111 Cinema Drive, on Thursday, April 21, four days ahead of Earth Day.

But first the group has to grow enough interest.

The local Crop Mob has teamed with Gathr, a “theatrical on demand” grassroots group that responds to requests for screenings that serve a social purpose by handling booking and marketing, provided those requests sell a minimum number of tickets ahead of time.

With a required 56 ticket sales by April 10, the Wilmington chapter still needs about 20 to make the event happen.

'Can You Dig This,' about the urban gardening trend in South Central L.A., has screened at film festivals across the globe.
‘Can You Dig This,’ about the urban gardening trend in South Central L.A., has screened at film festivals across the globe.

The Crop Mob concept arose in the Triangle area in 2008 as a way to pair landless farming enthusiasts with farmers who have land but could use a helping hand. The end goal is to create a cohesive agrarian community, where people of all ages, backgrounds and experience levels can come together to effect positive change and learn from one another.

In less than a decade, Crop Mobs have sprouted up across the country, with dozens up and down the east coast alone and another 30 or so in places like the Midwest, Texas, California and even Hawaii.

The Cape Fear chapter, which got going in 2012, has staged 10 events to “mob” farms and community gardens throughout southeastern North Carolina, member Britt Taggart said. The next such event is tentatively set for late May at Black River Organic Farm in Sampson County.

Taggart said it’s all done “in the spirit of mutual aid.”

“No money is exchanged. In the essence of what true community is all about, crop mobbers work together, share a meal, play, talk and get stuff done,” she noted.

While Cape Fear Crop Mob has an engaged audience on social media, Taggart said “mob” events usually involve about 20 to 25 people.

But with “Can You Dig This,” she’s hoping to see an increase in participation and a stronger collaboration among the various small groups doing work similar to Crop Mob. The documentary explores the urban gardening revolution currently happening in the food desert of South Central Los Angeles.

“With the inspiration of spring and Earth Day upon us, I thought hosting…the documentary would be a great piece to bring conversations to the table here in Wilmington around community transformation, growing food and hard work,” Taggart said. “There are a lot of smaller groups doing great work, but we can accomplish a lot more by working together and energizing each other to influence change.”

Tickets to “Can You Dig This” are $11 and may be purchased through Gathr. If it reaches its quota, Cape Fear Crop Mob will show the film at 7:30 p.m. on April 21.

Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at hilary.s@portcitydaily.com.

 

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