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 15

Black Farmers & Urban Gardeners Come Together: Lessons from Brooklyn for Tompkins County

By: Anthony Gallucci
Date: 12/10/2010
I was honored to attend the 2010 “Black Farmers & Urban Gardeners Conference: Growing Health, Wealth, & Justice in Our Communities” in Brooklyn, NYC. The gathering of numerous Original People (Black, Latin@ and Indigenous) to discuss, educate and network around food security, farming rights, agricultural policy, the need for agricultural autonomy, and methods for achieving such a reality was inspirational and motivational. The conference began with Will Allen of Growing Power in Milwaukee discussing the possibilities of using technological development for the purposes of healthy food market sustainability and closed with a personal peek into the concerns, remedies and aspirations of downtown Brooklyn community agriculturist, historians and urban farming operations. Since the closure of the conference I have been contemplating how the experience could translate to our local space here in Tompkins County.

The focus of the conference being Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners, I thought to focus on how we can credibly create opportunities for Black people to farm and garden in Tompkins County’s urban and rural areas. It has been my own conjecture that urban farming is a plausible way to increase health in the urban communities, traditionally composed of Black and Latin@ Americans. The Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners Conference showed there are a plethora of individuals and organizations, locally and nationally, who agree.In reflecting on urban gardening and how to move forward on increasing Black farming in urban centers such as Brooklyn, I must remind people that however inspirational, a sixteenth or quarter of an acre on one city block in a housing project is not going to provide a sustainable way to feed the people in the area. This is especially the case when the (paid) organizers and directors of these operations rarely are empowered from within the communities being served. With limited financial backing, land and social investment there surely would not be enough yield to afford for the undercutting of mass-production farm products in the local food markets, nor for the sustainability of an independent “People’s” food market.

But the motivation, the markets, the distribution networks and the dedicated people already exist within urban centers. Therefore, adequate land space, "ownership," and autonomy of ecology* would secure a more independent and sustainable urban agriculture as a reality, and people could offer the access to year-round healthy foods that is required for individual behavioral change to beget cultural change in regards to healthy eating.

For this to happen there needs to be an initial exchange of land space, “ownership” and autonomy of ecology (voluntarily or involuntarily) from the private interest to the People whom inhabit the space. Secondly, there needs to be an increase in access, affordability and social comfort* offered, or taken, through land redistribution outside of the urban centers for people quarantined to the urban centers (traditionally Black and Latin@ Americans).

Working Toward Food Security in Ithaca: An Interview with Jemila Sequeira

Last week the Ithaca community held a Community Food Security Dialogue to discuss what a food system that works for everyone would look like, and how Ithaca can begin moving toward that goal. We caught up with Jemila Sequeira, Groundswell advisor and Community Food Security Dialogue organizer, to ask some questions about this important work. 

Jemila Sequeira
Groundswell: How did the Community Food Security Dialogue begin? What events led up to it?

Jemila Sequeira: In 2009, the Cornell Public Service center appointed myself and Bethany Schroeder as Civic Fellows. My fellowship focused on recognizing my work with Gardens 4 Humanity; Bethany's for her work with the Ithaca Health Alliance and the Ithaca Free Clinic. This gave rise to two civic dialogues in 2009 on health and food security. My fellowship ended in the spring of 2010, but I felt I had a moral obligation to continue this work. After the civic dialogues, many people- landowners, farmers, food preservers, and others- were looking for a way to bring cohesiveness and a sense of purpose around the creation of a healthy food system for our community. The Community Food Security Dialogue was a way to keep the conversation going.

I was also concerned about including people who, historically, haven't been part of the discussion. Conversations around food in our community are often fragmented and top-heavy, with disproportionate input at the academic and institutional level, while those usually most profoundly affected by these issues of food and well-being are not at the table. I didn't want to close out the year without a chance for those people who were not being represented to have a voice. I also had been inspired by my recent trip with other Ithacans involved in the food movement to the Community Food Security Conference in New Orleans earlier this year. The dialogue here was a way to begin to examine how the ten square miles around Ithaca fit into the global movement around building a healthy food system.

GS: Who has been working with you on this project?

JS: Logistically, to hold this dialogue, I worked with Joanna Green, Kirtrina Baxter, Elan Shapiro, Sarah Reistetter, Cornell students Meredith Palmer, Zackery Murray, and Ben Pinon, and several community representatives. But people have been working on and thinking about this project begun long before I came. It always has been, and will always be, a project of the whole community. This work is cross-generational, and spans the entire socioeconomic, political, institutional, and community spectrum, and so many people have been involved. In particular I want to recognize Tony Petito of the new Neighborhood Pride grocery store, and his role as part of a group of elders that are still active and committed to their community, with their hearts centered in the neighborhood.

Monday, December 13

After the Summer Practicum: A guest entry from Krista Fieselmann

Krista was one of 14 students who participated in Groundswell's first college class, the Summer Practicum in Sustainable Farming and Local Food Systems. She caught up with Groundswell this past week to share a bit about where she is now- and relay some important reading material. Thanks Krista!

An update on me: After this week, my 1st semester of graduate studies in foods and nutrition will be completed! The program is really focused on practical application of the science of health and physiology and how it shapes policy, and life! So this was an exciting time for me, as the new dietary requirements from the government came out.  I spent a lot of time reading the papers that went into the decisions and discussing the their strengths and weaknesses.

The summer practicum really showed me that food choice and nutrition has a wide range of impacts, and the research that goes into discovering what those are is really developing, and freaking awesome! I wanted to share the findings of a recent speaker in the department with you. Dr. Kevin Hall was the speaker, and he came up with a model for how people eat that reflects body weight (it is very complicated but that is the gist). Compared to the normal body weight for Americans, he was able to see that most food available in America is not consumed and an estimated 3-4/8ths of all food produced is wasted! The USDA doesn't have a good tracking system for food waste, but EPA data on food energy in landfills supports his numbers. This obviously has huge environmental impacts, and really shows how food in America has become more of an industry, and less about feeding people! 

Heres a link to his paper (check out figure 1):
- Krista

Tuesday, November 30

Slavery in the Food System?

You would never participate in slavery, right?
By Kurt Michael Friese, from the Huffington Post, November 5, 2010

I know, it seems like a bizarre question in this day and age -- of course no sane, civilized member of a modern society would take part in the indentured servitude of others. Lincoln ended all that 150 years ago, didn't he? And of course you and I would never have anything to do with slavery in 2010.
The dirty little secret though is that millions of Americans are contributing to it each week and they don't even know it. When you buy tomatoes at the local Publix, Ahold, Kroger, or Walmart, you become the last link in a chain that is attached to shackles in south Florida. Read more...

Saturday, November 27

Panel Discussions from Mann Library Local Food & Fiber Fair

Cornell's NWAEG (New World Agriculture and Ecology Group) has uploaded videos of the great panel discussion that followed the "A Farm for the Future" screening at the Mann Library Local Food & Fiber Fair last week! Groundswell is mentioned in the discussion by two of our partner farmers, Donn Hewes and Maryrose Livingston of Northland Sheep Dairy- thanks! Videos after the jump:

Request for Proposals: Cornell's TSF Organic Agriculture Research, Teaching & Outreach

If you're a Cornell Student, Cooperative Extension educator, or organic farmer, you may be interested in this grant opportunity. The TSF (Toward Sustainability Foundation) has pledged a gift to Cornell to support organic agriculture programs, and they're putting out a request for proposals now. The deadline for submitting grants is December 15th, 2010. This is a chance to get your idea funded!

From the website:

The Department of Horticulture at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) requests proposals for innovative research, teaching and outreach projects in organic farming and food system sustainability.  A gift from the Toward Sustainability Foundation (TSF) will provide support for successful proposals during calendar year 2011.  Short proposals are requested (10-page maximum, single spaced, including an itemized budget) from Cornell staff and students, Cooperative Extension educators, and New York organic farmers.  All funded proposals must include someone on the CALS faculty as a principal investigator or co-PI, in order for us to allocate these funds.  Projects will be funded up to a maximum $10,000 for a one-year period (2011).

2010-2011 Groundswell Advisory Board Meeting Schedule

Want to get involved in making social change around food and farming in our community? Consider joining the Groundswell Advisory board. Our committed group of advisors are involved in all aspects of Groundswell- policy, education, farming, fundraising, community organizing, and more. Everyone with a stake in the future of the agricultural community and food system of the Finger Lakes is welcome to participate!

Our advisory board meets bimonthly on the first Tuesday of every month, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Location is TBA for each meeting, though our preferred location is the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, located at 615 Willow Avenue in Ithaca, NY. Our meeting schedule is as follows:

December 7, 2010
February 1, 2011
April 5, 2011
June 7, 2011
August 2, 2011
October 4, 2011
December 6, 2011

Let's work together to create the food system we want to see in Tompkins County. If you're interested in joining, send an email to info@groundswellcenter.org.

Friday, November 26

Keys to Success for Start-Up Farms

Do certain factors predict success or failure in the start-up farming operation, and if so, can we use this information to make recommendations to beginning farmers? This article, written by Groundswell advisor Gil Gillespie, discusses some of the challenges and keys to success for start-up farms in the Northeast region. Predictive factors in the farm's social context, the personal characteristics of the farm operator, and the farm business's attributes are elaborated upon in this study. The piece concludes with several helpful suggestions for start-up enterprises in our region.


Wednesday, November 24

Community Food Security Dialogue

Hello Groundswell Community. Here's an important message from Jemila Sequeira, Director of the Whole Community Project...

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Community Food Security Dialogue
Greater Ithaca Activities Center (GIAC)
301 West Court Street
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
6:30PM - 8:30PM

There is a growing interest in our community and nationally concerning local food systems and food security. On February 21st and April 24th 2009 Cornell University Public Service Center held two community dialogues on Health and Food Security. As civic fellow, I co-facilitated these events with Bethany Schroeder, Director of the Ithaca Health Alliance and Ithaca Free Clinic.

Since these events many people have requested a group to reconvene and continue discussions on food security. Several people have suggested that we explore how a food policy council might serve to support a food system that is equitable and sustainable while meeting the diverse needs of our neighborhoods. Other areas of interest include buying clubs, urban agriculture, food preservation and safety as important aspects of our local food system.

A light meal will be provided. Child care is available upon advance request.

This invite is open to the community for anyone interested or involved in our local food system. For additional information or to request child care, please do not hesitate to contact me at Cornell Cooperative Extension, 607-272-2292 or email at es538@cornell.edu.

A flyer announcing this event will be available November 29th. Please contact me if you are interested in posting at your workplace, residence or elsewhere in the community.

Jemila Sequeira
Jemila Sequeira, MSW T: 607-272-2292x157
Whole Community Project F: 607-272-7088
Cornell Cooperative Extension C: 607- 280- 7482
Tompkins County Email: es538@cornell.edu
615 Willow Avenue

Friday, November 19

Lessons from New Orleans

Groundswell Community Liaison Kirtrina Baxter describes her experience at last month's Community Food Security Coalition conference in New Orleans.

The role of black people and folks of color is greatly documented and heralded in the food justice movement and it was one of the reasons I was so excited to go to the 14th Annual Community Food Security Coalition Conference. There were several other reasons for my going as well. I wanted to connect with other food workers of color in this movement and talk with them about their experiences of growth, connections and allyship, inform myself about other work going on in the food justice and farming movement, visit and learn more about the local history of New Orleans, and answer a main question always on my mind which is, how do we engage everyday folks in our communities and get them to understand the positive impact of “real food” in their diets and lives?

As I planned for my first trip to New Orleans there was a mixture of excitement and nervousness. Not only was this my first trip to the famed city of Jazz and center of African American culture in the US but also my first time at a conference related to food justice. I would be expected to network with farmers and other food workers in the country as well as gain a working knowledge of practices and procedures that would assist in the work that I am doing in the Ithaca area.

Arriving at the conference, I noticed there were many more people of color than I had expected to find attending the conference. The more people I ran into, thinking they were perhaps just guests in the hotel, the more at ease I felt with the representation of folks who looked like me and had contributions to give at this conference. In my first workshop alone, there were at least ten people of color in a room of about 40 participants. This was inspiring in itself, considering I had been reading and researching about programs with black farmers and urban gardeners for quite some time but had very little personal contact with these groups of folks.

Wednesday, November 10

Starting a Vegetable Farm Online Course Debuts in January


TOPIC:        Starting a Vegetable Farm Online Course Debuts in January
DATE:         For immediate release, November 10, 2010
CONTACT:   Erica Frenay at 607-255-9911or
Starting a Vegetable Farm Online Course Debuts in January
Also Markets & Profits: Making Money Selling What You Grow
The Cornell Small Farms Program is adding yet another online course to its repertoire: Starting a Small-Scale Vegetable Farm. If you're in the planning stages of a diversified vegetable enterprise, this course will help you with site selection, enterprise budgets, cultivation, equipment, cover crops, and more. The course runs Jan. 5 – Feb. 23, and incorporates optional face-to-face meetings at the Northeast Organic Farming Association conference on Jan 22-23 in Saratoga Springs, NY. Beginning farmer scholarships for the conference are available until Dec. 6 for those interested in attending, but you must register separately for the conference.

Monday, November 8

Choosing a Sustainable Future

Co-founder and director of Ecovillage (and Groundswell advisor) Liz Walker has a new book- and a new blog!

Here's a snippet from Liz about her book, Choosing A Sustainable Future: Ideas and Inspiration from Ithaca, NY:

"In this book, I try to capture the breadth and essence of the fast-growing sustainability and social justice movement in the Ithaca area. As the cover says, "A small city's big vision that can help transform your own community." I've been a grassroots activist my whole life, and I've rarely seen such a blossoming of interest and activity with a common purpose as is growing here.

There is a unity of purpose here that is reflected across a wide spectrum of players:

* from the county planning department, which has a goal of cutting carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 - for the whole county of 100,000 people!

* to small businesses, such as Garden Gate, which uses a biodiesel-powered van to deliver fresh, locally grown produce, dairy, meats and more,

* to academia (we have Cornell University, Ithaca College and TC3, our local community college, all engaged in creating courses about sustainability topics, as well as greening their buildings and operations)

* to grassroots efforts to provide alternative health care, alternative currency, food security, and more.

Many of these players work with each other and form coalitions to address specific areas. I hope you get a chance to read all about it, since I think the people and the organizations here are creating something truly inspiring!"

For more information, visit:

Tuesday, November 2

Video: BJM Snack Program/Ithaca Community Harvest

An inspiring video about Ithaca's BJM Snack Program (now the Ithaca Community Harvest), one of the major new players in Ithaca's food system:

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program from Eric Miller/Hornbrook Prod. on Vimeo.

"This video is about the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program at Beverly J. Martin Elementary School in Ithaca, NY. The program was created and operated by the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food from Spring 2008 through Spring 2010 in partnership with Greenstar Community Projects and Village at Ithaca with funding from many local foundations, businesses and individuals. The program has been a huge success."

For more information, contact Lara Kaltman at larakaltman@gmail.com.

Nov 5th - Food access and justice: Rebuilding a healthy local food system for all

From Cornell's New World Agriculture and Ecology Group (NWAEG):

This Friday...

11/5 - Food access and justice: Rebuilding a healthy local food system for all @ Cornell's Emerson Hall, Room 135, Fri. 12:15-1PM
Elizabeth Karabinakis, Tompkins County Cornell Cooperative Extension

Liz has been involved with the Healthy Food For All campaign:


Apply now for SARE Farmer Grants

The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) is now accepting grant proposals from farmers to support innovation in agriculture. Via Violet Stone, Cornell Small Farms Program and SARE Outreach Coordinator:

Are you a farmer with a new idea you would like to test using a field trial, on-farm demonstration, or other technique?

Funding is available to support your on-farm research via a Farmer Grant from Northeast SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education). The deadline for SARE Farmer Grants is December 7th, 2010. SARE Farmer Grant funds can be used to explore new marketing and production techniques, pest management, cover crops, composting, agroforestry, new crop trials, bee health and alternative pollinators, new tool development, and a very broad range of other topics that improve profitability, stewardship, and the rural community.

Grant awards are capped at $15,000. Grant funds may be used to purchase materials specific to the project, to pay you, the farmer, for your time, to compensate consultants and service providers, and to pay project-specific expenses like lab, travel, and outreach costs.

Take the Local Foods Survey!

Nicole Novak, a Cornell student, is conducting a survey on the nutritional quality of the locavore diet. Here are the details:

Interested in locally grown foods?

I'm conducting research with Cornell's Sustainability of Food Systems Group, http://www.aem.cornell.edu/special_programs/hortmgt/sustainability/index.html
to learn more about your opinions on local food products, what foods you purchase locally, and how you use them! The goal of my project is to assess the nutritional quality of a "locavore" diet. Please consider helping us out by taking a brief, anonymous, online survey:

Go here! --> https://cornell.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_9GYY5w2S0IYhRdi

Thank you!!!
Questions or concerns? Please contact Nicole Novak at nln22@cornell.edu


Saturday, October 30

Preview of Nov 1 Local Fair Trade Workshop in Ithaca Journal

The upcoming NOFA/Groundswell sponsored workshop on local fair trade is previewed in an article in the Ithaca Journal. The workshop, coming up on Nov 1st at Ecovillage in Ithaca, will cover just labor practices, setting fair prices for goods and the concept of "Local Fair Trade". For more information, visit the Groundswell Center's website.

Ithaca farm programs examine food pricing
EcoVillage to host Nov. 1 workshop on community-supported agriculture
By Krisy Gashler • kgashler@gannett.com • October 17, 2010, 7:45 pm
One of the pioneers of community-supported agriculture in New York will be co-leading a workshop for farmers on labor and pricing policies on Nov. 1.
Elizabeth Henderson has been growing vegetables at Peacework Organic farm near Newark, N.Y., in Wayne County for 22 years.
"Ours is the oldest community-supported agriculture project in this area," she said.
Along with Robert Hadad, Cornell Vegetable Program fresh market specialist, Henderson is scheduled to host an all-day workshop on farm labor policies, pricing and local fair trade at EcoVillage in Ithaca.
"Paperwork is not what farmers most like to do -- that's why they're farming -- but it's something that you have to do, so we're trying to make it easier," she said.
Workshop topics cover creating a safe, just workplace and calculating reasonable production costs and fair prices.
"I would like to see fair trade done in our food system, but to get a fair price, you have to be able to calculate it accurately. That's what the workshop is about: laying the groundwork for fairer trade," Henderson said.
There's no set amount that workers or farmers should make, but it should be a living wage for everyone involved, she said.
"It's wonderful, wonderful work to do, if you could make enough working at it five, even six days a week. And it's so important. You know, why are we paying a lawyer $100 an hour and a farmer minimum wage?" she said. "So many farms go out of business and it's because we live in this cheap food system, and farmers aren't paid adequately for the important work that we do."

Wednesday, October 27

Groundswell Director to speak at Cayuga Sustainability Council tomorrow

Groundswell director Joanna Green will appear with other community food leaders at the Cayuga Sustainability Council panel tomorrow (Thursday) from 6 to 8 at the Southside Community Center! Official announcement below:

The Cayuga Sustainability Council will meet this coming Thursday from 6-8 at the Southside Community Center.

The CSC is a non-organization (eg no organizational structure, no officers, no dues, no formal membership) that meets quarterly to catch up on what's happening within the sustainability community. All projects, organizations, and sustainability-engaged folks are welcome.

From 6-7 we'll fill each other in on what's going on and coming up - and from 7-8 we're privileged to have a sterling team of leaders in the local foods movement to bring us up to date, and help us think about what we can be doing to support this key dimension in creating sustainable community.

Friday, October 22

Compos Mentis will close this season

Compos Mentis, the horticultural therapy farm in Ithaca, will be closing at the end of this season. Below is a forwarded message from Howard Feinstein, the chairman of the board.

Dear Friends of Compos Mentis,

As we approach the close of our fourth season at the farm, we want to bring you up to date on the state of Compos Mentis and our plans for the future.

When we planned for this fourth season, the Board was aware that we had enough money to carry through this year. We did not get 3 grants that we had expected. Surprisingly, we had to delay opening the farm as planned for lack of apprentices. Although we know that there is a need in our community for the type of service we provide so well, for some reason those people were not coming to us.

Reluctantly, and with great sadness, we have concluded that this will be our final season. We recognize full well that what we have accomplished is remarkable, in no small measure, due to your generous support. The full moon shined on the farm at the Harvest Celebration in late September, but the stars were not aligned for our extended future.

For the Board

Howard M. Feinstein M.D.
Chairman of the Board
Rebecca Schwed
Executive Director
Compos Mentis: Working Toward Wellness, Inc.

Sunday, October 17

Ithaca Crop Mob will be presenting at the NOFA-NY Winter Conference this year!

The Ithaca Crop Mob will be presenting "Stories from the Crop Mob: Barn Raising in 2010" at the NOFA-NY "Diggin' Diversity" Winter Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY this year! ICM Organizers Katie Church and Rachel Firak will be speaking with Deb Taft of the NYC Crop Mob about how our the two groups got started, how they function, and what agricultural activism and cooperative volunteerism can offer our community. The presentation will be on Sunday from 8-9:15 a.m. To register for the conference, check out the Event Schedule and learn more about the conference, visit NOFA's website at https://www.nofany.org/events/winter-conference.

Saturday, October 16

Cayuga Pure Organics in the New York Times!

Brooktondale beans-and-grains farm Cayuga Pure Organics is in the New York Times this week!

Field Report: Market Share
David La Spina for The New York Times
Published: October 13, 2010

In New York City, the push to eat locally can go only so far, allowing diners the occasional gotcha moment at restaurants that promote their sourcing. When I tasted the smooth, rich polenta at Roberta’s, a restaurant in Brooklyn that grows vegetables out back, I was sure I’d caught them. “Anson Mills, right?” I asked the chef, Carlo Mirarchi, name-checking the South Carolina gristmill of choice. He’d got me: “Cayuga Pure Organics, upstate.” O.K. . . . Did the staff forager at Print, an upscale locavore restaurant, find the nutty freekeh (roasted green wheat berries, a Middle Eastern specialty) that anchors its vegetable plate at Kalustyan’s, across town? Cayuga Pure Organics again. The heirloom beans at Gramercy Tavern? Exactly.

Legumes and grains have come into play in New York in the last year, altering the lives of a small collective of farmers outside Ithaca along with it. Farro and polenta are no longer just Italian imports. Flour ground from organic buckwheat, rye or winter wheat can be found beyond the health-food store. Black, navy, pinto and heirloom beans like Jacob’s Cattle are sold at New York City green markets and snazzy grocers. Now that the missing links on the plate have been filled in by Cayuga Pure Organics, New York locavores can have their polenta cake and eat it too.


Groundswell USDA grant award in Ithaca Journal

A nice article about the Groundswell Center's new USDA grant in the Ithaca Journal:

EcoVillage's Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming has received nearly $350,000 in a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support training for new farmers and urban market gardeners.

The three-year grant from USDA is intended to help beginning farmers with business planning, training, mentoring and affordable access to land.

"Our goal is to increase the number, diversity, profitability and environmental sustainability of beginning farmers in the region," said Joanna Green, director of the Groundswell Center. "We're making a three-year investment to develop a strong, multicultural social and economic support network for new farmers."


Groundswell's October 2010 Newsletter

To subscribe to the Groundswell Newsletter by email, visit Groundswell's Subscribe page.

October 2010 Newsletter
From the Director
New Orleans, here we come!

I'm thrilled to be traveling to New Orleans this weekend as part of a group of Ithacans participating in the annual conference of the Community Food Security Coalition. This is a great opportunity for us to network with food systems activists from across the nation, and with each other. Groundswell team member Kirtrina Baxter will be sharing her thoughts about the conference in next month's newsletter, so look out for more information in the coming weeks!

We've just finished crossing the t's and dotting the i's on our new grant from USDA's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, and are gearing up to begin work on a series of new farmer training programs that will launch in 2011. If you're a beginning farmer, a farming intern, or an urban gardener considering the possibility of becoming a market gardener, we want to hear from you!

I hope your harvest season has been as bounteous as Groundswell's, and that you're almost ready, as I am, to trade in the long days of summer for long, cozy evenings, spicy pumpkin soups, and hot (fair trade) chocolate...

Joanna Green, Director

Thursday, October 14

10/10/10 Work Party for Ithaca- Video!

Last Sunday, Ana Ortiz, Gardens4Humanity, and 350.org organized a Permaculture Build in Ithaca, creating a garden site for the Chestnut Hill apartments. Check out this awesome video made by Overstanding Ithaca about the event.

For more information, visit 350.org's website.

Monday, October 11

Reviving Social Justice in Sustainable and Organic Agriculture

This piece from the Agricultural Justice Project was written by Elizabeth Henderson of Peacework Farm, who has been an ardent supporter of fair farm policies and farm worker rights for many years. Elizabeth will be giving a workshop on the topic of Farm Labor Policies, Pricing and Local Fair Trade on November 1st at EcoVillage in Ithaca, NY. For more information, visit the Groundswell Website.

Reviving Social Justice in Sustainable and Organic Agriculture
By Elizabeth Henderson
Northeast Organic Farming Association representative to the Agricultural Justice Project Steering Committee

If you can remember back to the early days of organic agriculture in the 1970’s, you may recall its history as a movement with a wholistic approach to land and livelihood. The farmers who were attracted to organic practices and their loyal customers agreed that decent prices, fair treatment of workers and animals, and care for mother earth all went together. Organic food enthusiasts were willing to pay a small premium for organic products to sustain the farms economically. They understood that the prices had to cover the true costs of production and they trusted their farmers to charge fairly. That all started to change as larger entities became involved and organic began to enter the mainstream. The initial family-scale farms and small independent processors faced overwhelming competition from an “organic industry” and large-scale farms that converted to organic purely as a marketing decision. The “American Organic Standards” developed by the Organic Trade Association did not touch pricing and labor issues and then the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, which established the National Organic Program (NOP) under USDA, followed suit. When commenters criticized the national organic regulations for leaving out the social component, the NOP responded, that is “not in our purview.”

Thursday, October 7

Groundswell to receive major USDA grant award!

The Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming will launch a three-year training program for beginning farmers and market gardeners

The EcoVillage at Ithaca Center for Sustainability Education is pleased to announce that its agricultural initiative, the Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming, will receive a three-year grant from the US Department of Agriculture to support the training of new farmers and urban market gardeners. The grant, totaling $349,873, will enable Groundswell and its project partners to provide training, mentoring, business planning support, and affordable access to land for beginning farmers.

“Our goal is to increase the number, diversity, profitability, and environmental sustainability of beginning farmers in the region,” says Joanna Green, Director of the Groundswell Center. “We’re making a three-year investment to develop a strong, multicultural social and economic support network for new farmers.”

The project is the result of over two years of hard work, program planning and contributions of a broad-based group of volunteers, community leaders and organizations. “This is a really exciting development,” says Liz Walker, Director of EcoVillage’s educational programs. “I’m especially pleased that EcoVillage is able to make some of its agricultural land available to others in the community who don’t otherwise have access to land.”

Wednesday, October 6

Upcoming Nov 1 Workshop: Farm Labor Policies, Pricing and Local Fair Trade

Preparing the Ground for Local Fair Trade

ATTENTION FARMERS: November 1 workshop will help you understand and implement fair labor and pricing policies

To help set the stage for domestic fair trade, the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York is sponsoring a series of workshops for farmers on farm labor policies and setting prices that cover farm production costs. The Ithaca workshop will be held on November 1 and is cosponsored by Groundswell.

Farm Labor Policies, Pricing and Local Fair Trade

Elizabeth Henderson, long-time CSA farmer and leader in the international Agricultural Justice movement, is one of the presenters at the November 1 workshop.
Monday, November 1, 2010
9am - 3 pm
EcoVillage FROG Common House
Rachel Carson Way, Ithaca, NY
Charge: $35 ($30 NOFA-NY members), includes a light lunch and a copy of Richard Wiswall's The Organic Farmer's Business Handbook

Please RSVP by October 15 to Robert Hadad, Cornell Vegetable Program Fresh Market Specialist, at rgh26@cornell.edu 585-739-4065. If you include your email, you will receive an electronic copy of the Agricultural Justice Project Tool-Kit, a guide to good farm labor policies.

WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION: Farm Labor Policies, Pricing and Local Fair Trade
For a farm to be sustainable, the farm needs a steady, well-trained labor force and the products of the farm must bring a price in the marketplace that covers the cost of production, plus a living wage for the farmer, money to do repairs and maintenance, to pay for continuing education for the farm staff, and to make improvements to the farm. Many family-scale organic farmers have the best intentions, but under the day-to-day pressures of farming, do not take the time to learn all the relevant laws and regulations, and to document their well-intentioned practices. The purpose of these workshops is to provide the concrete information and documentation a farmer needs to live up to the claim of social justice.

10/8/10: Growing the Local Food System

Coming up this Friday afternoon! Groundswell's director, Joanna Green, will speak on the topic of "Growing the Local Food System" for Cornell's Sustainable Food Systems Seminar Series. She'll be talking about Groundswell's vision and what we've been doing during out first season of classes. This lecture is open to the public.

Sustainable Food Systems Seminar Series
October 8, 2010 - 12:15PM to 1:00PM

SNES 2000: The Environmental Sciences Colloquium is open to the entire Cornell community and the public. Credit option: S/U, 1 credit

Contemporary environmental issues pose complex challenges to societies that require multidisciplinary views and interdisciplinary approaches to their solution. SNES 2000 is a series of lectures on an annually changing theme central to the Environmental Sciences, which poses biophysical, economical and political challenges to modern society. Participants will become familiar with contemporary issues of environmental degradation and opportunities for their mitigation. The colloquium will provide a platform for discussion about current issues in the environmental sciences and introduce students to the complexity of information, views, and approaches. As part of the Sustainable Food Systems Seminar Series, Joanna Green from the Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming will talk about what Groundswell has been up to during their first season of classes.

LOCATION: Emerson, 135
SPEAKER: Joanna Green, Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming
TOPIC: Growing the local food system
WEBSITE: http://snes.eas.cornell.edu/
ADMISSION: Open to Public, Alumni, Students, Faculty, and Staff.
CONTACT: Suzanne, 255-1269, sw38@cornell.edu

The interactive Cornell Campus Map can be found here: http://www.cornell.edu/maps/interactive.cfm

Monday, October 4

Ithaca Crop Mob visits Meadowsweet Farm

An initiative of the Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming and the Full Plate Farm Collective, the Ithaca Crop Mob is a group of volunteers who meet monthly (and sometimes more often!) to lend a hand on local farms. Last month, we visited Meadowsweet Farm, home of the Meadowsweet Dairy, LLC. Here's a summary of what we did (pictures and words courtesy of the Ithaca Crop Mob Google group!):

Last Saturday, a small band of crop mobbers visited Meadowsweet Farm, a raw milk dairy in Lodi, NY. Though the Smith family- Barb, Steve, and their children- once sold raw milk to customers directly, Meadowsweet currently operates as an LLC (Limited Liability Company), in which LLC members own the cow herd and the Smith family manages the herd and distributes the milk products to members. The Smiths have been deeply involved in the litigation surrounding the sale of raw milk in New York State, and shared with us some insights and education on this breezy September morning. Read more...

To learn more about the Ithaca Crop Mob or to get involved, visit our Google Group!

Thursday, June 17

The Food Movement, Rising | The New York Review of Books

The Food Movement, Rising | The New York Review of Books
A new essay by Michael Pollan argues that, more than any other social movement, the movement away from industrial agriculture towards more sustainable, smaller-scale, regionalized farming/food systems is bringing together diverse interest groups and creating the possibility of a widespread political and cultural shift.

Monday, May 3

Cultivating a sustainable local food system

By Joanna Green

Published in Tompkins Weekly

Let’s say you’re a young adult – or maybe a not so young adult – and you’re interested in learning about small-scale farming as a potential livelihood. Where can you go to find out what farming is all about and get the training you need to farm successfully?

Or let’s say you’re an individual or small business owner who just wants to play a role in building a strong, sustainable local food system in our community. How can you plug in and support the next generation of farmers and local foods businesses?

Wednesday, March 10

Farm-Based Education: Lessons from Hawthorne Valley Farm

"Farm-Based Education: Lessons from Hawthorne Valley Farm" was a Groundswell-sponsored lecture and discussion held at the CCE on March 8th, 2010.

by Rachel Firak
Many thanks to Rachel Schneider, who came out to speak to an enthusiastic group at Cornell Cooperative Extension about her work as the Education Director of Hawthorne Valley Farm in Harlemville, NY. Rachel spoke about the mission of the Hawthorne Valley Farm, the inextricable nature of farming and the arts, and the Hudson Valley's innovative CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance in Farmer Training) program.
Hawthorne Valley Farm is a 400-acre biodynamic farm affiliated with the Hawthorne Valley Association, a nonprofit operation dedicated to agriculture, education, and the arts. The farm began in 1972 with the intention of introducing urban children to agriculture through hands-on experience. Their "farm school" still continues today, with over 12,000 children having been introduced to the beauty of the agricultural lifestyle over its 38 years of dedicated service.

Wednesday, January 27

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.