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.

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