An Old-fashioned Barn Raising?

Let me start by apologizing for my overuse of the word “delight”.  I know I write it too often but I haven’t come up with an appropriate synonym for that moment of precious excitement upon discovery of something new.  This morning, I heard it in my 7 year old’s voice, “Mom, come here and see this!”  The object of his delight? His Ant Farm.

The ants had created a new tunnel and it appeared that one might be stuck but another 6-legged critter quickly marched in to alleviate the issue.  For the guy in trouble, his friend, neighbor, family member (or perhaps all three) showed up to help him out of his dilemma. Ok, that might not have been what was really going on but watching caused me to think about something I recently learned about from the Ozarkhomesteader – crop mobbing.

A crop mob is a group of landless agriculture enthusiasts who come together with gloves and tools in order to accomplish a labor intensive task at a local farm. Working side by side, these folks are rewarded with fresh air and exercise while assisting a farmer in planting, maintenance or harvest.  There is no money exchanged but there might be a meal and some music and there most definitely will be a collective sense of community.  While the number of small and family farms has dwindled across the US, in some areas there is a resurgence of small scale sustainable farms. These new farmers grow diversified crops without using chemical pesticides or fertilizers and often without much machinery. The labor-intensity of this effort brings back the need for friends and family and community participation. A crop mob can also be an opportunity for an experienced farmer to share knowledge with others. I love the concept and am working to locate a crop mob for me and my family to participate in.

Hopi Crow Mother Kachina

Last night we watched a variation on crop mob.  My husband and I joined Hopi artists, other Hopi tribal members and interested community members for an event celebrating the Hopi Education Endowment Fund (HEEF).  Forty one Hopi artists created and donated spectacular pieces of art in order to raise money for the college education of Hopi youth.  A crop mob?  The Hopi call the concept “Itam naapyani” – the promotion of self sufficiency, proactive community participation in their own destiny, self reliance and local self determination. Both are about building community.

Where can you create a crop mob that will lead to greater community?

Hopi Blue Corn

Hopi Blue Corn Hotcakes

Serves four (12 4 inch hotcakes)
  • 1 cup of blue corn meal
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 Tbs. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1 cup milk (I use 1%)
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir. (I have seen a recipe that also includes oats at this point) Add oil, eggs, and milk and mix well. Drop by spoonfuls on a lightly oiled griddle, turning once as cakes brown – usually three to four minutes. Serve with the condiments of your choice and maybe fresh orange slices from a community citrus gleaning.
Leave a comment


  1. ozarkhomesteader

     /  March 7, 2010

    Hi, Agrigirl, I saw your post pop up on WordPress tags and read “barn raising” and just had to read–and low and behold found myself! 🙂

    We’ve got to try the Hopi cakes soon. They look delicious.

  2. ozarkhomesteader

     /  March 7, 2010

    🙂 I like the ant farm too.

  3. cool ant farm.

  4. inthemainstream

     /  March 7, 2010

    I’ve found myself overusing delight as well. That’s probably not horrible, right? So much delight?

  5. Sally Mom

     /  March 7, 2010

    Tammy, the blog just gets better! This was so much fun and inspiring to read! I really enjoyed hearing from Calvin. What a great kid and the ideas formulated from the ant farm! Good job Tanner.
    Another good read and periodical is, “Wise Traditions”. A magazine that gives great information. I learned of it through
    “nutritional data”.
    All easily googled to be enjoyed.
    It feels like home, reading your blogs. Love them and you!

  6. Lisa H

     /  March 8, 2010

    Mmmmm Blue Corn pancakes are fabulous!
    The colorful corn reminds me of spending a week in Minnesota on my cousin’s dairy farm. I was fascinated by all the colorful trees and the beautiful variegated colored corn. This was an amazing experience for a seven-year-old from southern California.
    I’m happy to hear that Tanner enjoys his ant farm. We have been watching in fascination our own ant farm here at home.
    Keep up the wonderful (and delightful!) blog.

  7. I just read last week about the crop mobs. How fun it is to read about them again and from a different angle too. Thanks for writing about them. It sounds like so much fun.

  8. Very interesting!
    The sad part is, this kind of community work and caring for one another has diminished in our society! Everyone thinks about themselves and only themselves! But the happiness one experiences by helping others is so gratifying, if only people would remember that!


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