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.

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!