Welcome to Groundswell

Groundswell’s mission
is to help youth and adult learners develop the skills and knowledge they need to build sustainable local food systems. Our focus is providing hands-on, experiential learning opportunities with real working farms and food businesses in the Ithaca area. Through collaboration with area schools, colleges and universities, Groundswell offers programs of study for beginning farmers, students, community members, and professionals.

Groundswell is an initiative of the EcoVillage Center for Sustainability Education in Ithaca, NY, which is a project of the Center for Transformative Action. Visit the Groundswell website to learn more about our programs, initiatives and resources.

Wednesday, December 16

Groundswell Highlights of 2009


Thanks to the efforts and talents of so many Groundswell volunteers, we made steady progress in 2009 towards the goal of establishing comprehensive farm-based training and education programs in the Ithaca area.
Building our base. Groundswell depends on a community of supporters who share our ambitious vision for farm-based education. That community came together for the very first Groundswell fundraising event on October 17. It was a terrific success, providing great food, farm tours and entertainment to over 70 supporters and raising nearly $2,000. Half of the proceeds will support Groundswell programs, with the other half going to our “parent” organization, the EcoVillage Center for Sustainability Education.
Reaching out. 2009 also marked the beginning of our outreach efforts, both to potential students and to supporters of the Groundswell vision. We shared our materials and information at many local and regional events this year, including a Local Foods Evening at Ithaca College; the Ithaca Festival Sustainability Fair; Judy’s Day at the Cornell Plantations; the Bioneers Conference at Ithaca College; the national Farm-Based Education Association Conference in Tarrytown, NY; and a “Local Foods Fair” at Cornell.
Going for grants. We developed a strong proposal for a comprehensive suite of training and support programs for new farmers, which we submitted to USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program in May. Although we weren’t selected for funding in 2009, we’re in a good position to update and resubmit our proposal in 2010. We also submitted a small proposal to USDA’s SARE Sustainable Communities Program, and will hear about funding decisions in March.
Community college connection. We’re very excited about the collaboration that Groundswell is embarking on with Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3). We’re working closely with Dr. Kelly Wessell, Chair of the Environmental Studies program, to begin planning several classes for TC3 students including an intensive 8-week Summer Practicum, which will be launched in 2010.
New farmer training. Working with a small group of local farmers and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, we took the first steps in 2009 towards organizing the new Finger Lakes “CRAFT” -- Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training, which will provide enhanced education and training programs for beginning farmers in the area. Intern Veronica Drake conducted a series of interviews with local farming interns, and confirmed a high level of interest in the CRAFT and other Groundswell programs.
Sustainable Farming Certificate Program. In the fall, the Groundswell Center was selected to work with Community Impact, a student run small business consulting firm operating out of the Johnson School at Cornell University.  We’re delighted to be assisted by with three talented MBA students, Ann Rickley, Dolph Warburton and Amber Steinhilber, who will be conducting a thorough market analysis for our Sustainable Farming Certificate Program.
International attention. Groundswell farmers and organizers are featured in a very cool online video about Ithaca’s vibrant local food system, recorded last summer. The Ithaca video is one of ten international video case studies being developed by the “Agriculture Bridge” project. It will be used in college classrooms in the US and abroad as an online teaching tool in sustainable development Click here to view the video.
Collaboration with Cornell. Groundswell was a key partner in designing and securing funding for a brand-new Cornell Sustainable Food Systems Initiative. We continue to collaborate with this diverse group of Cornell faculty and staff to address key sustainability issues relating to food and farming.
New Roots! Groundswell worked with faculty and staff of the New Roots Charter School to begin designing a farm-based curriculum for high school students.  In early September, the entire New Roots faculty visited West Haven Farm, and by mid September, all 110 New Roots students had spent a day at the farm with farm managers Todd McLane and John Bokaer-Smith, learning some basic principles of CSA farming and getting their hands into the dirt.
Bioneers. Groundswell was featured in the first Finger Lakes Bioneers Conference, held October 16-18 at Ithaca College.  Our session, titled: “Farm to Fork: Tapping into the Groundswell in Farm-Based Education,” was very well attended and sparked some excellent discussion and networking on the topic.
Farm-based education. Groundswell Center Director Joanna Green and Farmer-Teacher Todd McLane participated in the fourth annual Farm-Based Education Association Conference in Tarrytown, NY on November 12-14. We were impressed and inspired by the energy, talent and commitment of the farmers and educators involved in the “FBE” movement… for it truly is an exploding movement all across the US and Canada. We learned a tremendous amount about how to run successful farm-based education programs, and connected with dozens of new colleagues.

Monday, November 16

Reflections on the 2009 Farm-Based Education Association Conference

By Todd McLane, West Haven Farm Manager todd_brooke_joanna_

It was a cold dark November morning as I prepared to embark on an exciting trip with Groundswell's Director Joanna Green. We were headed to the national Farm Based Education Association conference being held in Tarrytown, NY.

Although the rigors and tiredness of a long farm season were beginning to show, I was filled with an almost uncontrollable energy. I sensed it in Joanna too (even though we left around 5 am!) I think there was only about 10 minutes where we weren't talking during the 4 ½ hour trip. From Groundswell brainstorms to philosophies on life, we covered it all! Here we were, headed down to the national FBEA conference. I thought that was a pretty big deal. After months and months of volunteer hours by all of the Groundswell Committee, the ship continued to move forward.

Wednesday, October 7

Local Foods Tapas and Cafe Concert- October 17, 2009

Help us build the Groundswell!
Back-to-Back Benefit Events October 17, 2009
Join us for an Evening of Local Foods Tapas and a Café Concert Featuring Favorite Ithaca Artists

On Saturday October 17th join the Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming for an autumn evening affair featuring local foods tapas, Finger Lakes wine, and fresh-pressed cider along with a ‘café concert’ where you can enjoy desserts, coffee, and tea while listening to some of Ithaca’s favorite singer-songwriters. Proceeds from this event, held at the EcoVillage Common House on Rachel Carson Way in Ithaca, NY will benefit the educational programs of both Groundswell and its parent organization, the EcoVillage Center for Sustainability Education.
The evening kicks off at 5:00pm with a tour of the EcoVillage co-housing community and West Haven Farm, followed by a reception featuring tapas crafted from food grown at West Haven farm and other local farms as well as wine produced on the shores of Cayuga and Seneca Lakes. During the reception, meet the farmers and educators involved in Groundswell and the Center for Sustainability Education and learn more about how you can tap into these efforts in the local community.
Beginning at 7:00pm, enjoy a café-style concert, showcasing singer-songwriters Patti Witten and Jody Kessler, acoustic duo “Littlewheel,” and – reuniting for the first time in 25 years– “Lorelei,” featuring the stunning vocal harmonies of Kessler, Witten and Groundswell Center Director Joanna Green. Ticket prices begin at $30.00 for the tour and reception, $25.00 for the café concert, and for the entire evening, a special price of $45.00. To purchase tickets, send an email to info@groundswellcenter.org or call 379-9270.

Saturday, October 3

Farm to Fork: Tapping the Groundswell in Farm-Based Education

A 2009 Finger Lakes Bioneers Conference Session
Sunday October 18, 11AM - 12noon

Ithaca College

Panelists for our session:
  • Todd McLane, Farm Manager, West Haven Farm, Ithaca, NY. What's up with the exploding farm-based education movement? What's Groundswell and what sorts of farm-based education programs are we offering?

  • Chelsea Brous and Parker MacDonald, students at Lehman Alternative Community School in Ithaca. Our experiences with farm-based education at Lehman Alternative Community School - What do teachers and students get out of it?

  • Rebecca Rodomsky-Bish, Science Faculty, New Roots Charter School, Ithaca, NY. How are New Roots teachers and students using farm-based education to address sustainability issues and meet academic expectations?

  • Kelly Wessel, Chair, Environmental Studies, Tompkins Cortland Community College, Dryden, NY. What's the potential of FBE for community college students and educators? What is the potential for a TC3-Groundswell Certificate Program?

  • Joanna Green, Director, Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming, Ithaca, NY. Moderator.

Break-out groups

  • Farmers, with Todd. How can farmers get involved in Farm-Based Education?

  • Teachers, with Rebecca and Kelly. How can teachers tap into Farm-Based Education?

  • Students, with Joanna and LACS student. How can students get involved in Farm-Based Education?

To register for the Bioneers Conference visit www.wemakeourfuture.org.