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, June 29

Seven Principles of Food Sovereignty

Seven Principles of Food Sovereignty

  1. Food: A Basic Human Right. Everyone must have access to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food in sufficient quantity and quality to sustain a healthy life with full human dignity. Each nation should declare that access to food is a constitutional right and guarantee the development of the primary sector to ensure the concrete realization of this fundamental right.
  2. Agrarian Reform. A genuine agrarian reform is necessary which gives landless and farming people – especially women – ownership and control of the land they work and returns territories to indigenous peoples. The right to land must be free of discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, race, social class or ideology; the land belongs to those who work it.
  3. Protecting Natural Resources. Food Sovereignty entails the sustainable care and use of natural resources, especially land, water, and seeds and livestock breeds. The people who work the land must have the right to practice sustainable management of natural resources and to conserve biodiversity free of restrictive intellectual property rights. This can only be done from a sound economic basis with security of tenure, healthy soils and reduced use of agro-chemicals.
  4. Reorganizing Food Trade. Food is first and foremost a source of nutrition and only secondarily an item of trade. National agricultural policies must prioritize production for domestic consumption and food self-sufficiency. Food imports must not displace local production nor depress prices.
  5. Ending the Globalization of Hunger. Food Sovereignty is undermined by multilateral institutions and by speculative capital. The growing control of multinational corporations over agricultural policies has been facilitated by the economic policies of multilateral organizations such as the WTO, World Bank and the IMF. Regulation and taxation of speculative capital and a strictly enforced Code of Conduct for TNCs is therefore needed.
  6. Social Peace. Everyone has the right to be free from violence. Food must not be used as a weapon. Increasing levels of poverty and marginalization in the countryside, along with the growing oppression of ethnic minorities and indigenous populations, aggravate situations of injustice and hopelessness. The ongoing displacement, forced urbanization, repression and increasing incidence of racism of smallholder farmers cannot be tolerated.
  7. Democratic control. Smallholder farmers must have direct input into formulating agricultural policies at all levels. The United Nations and related organizations will have to undergo a process of democratization to enable this to become a reality. Everyone has the right to honest, accurate information and open and democratic decision-making. These rights form the basis of good governance, accountability and equal participation in economic, political and social life, free from all forms of discrimination. Rural women, in particular, must be granted direct and active decision-making on food and rural issues.

Friday, June 24

Dynamic Equilibrium as a Farm Goal

Elizabeth Henderson, farmer of Peacework Organic Farm, ag justice champion and regional organic/CSA pioneer, wrote this piece back in 2002 for Growing for Market. We wanted to share it with beginning farmers who are seeking balance in their lives on the farm.

Running a Resilient Farm Business
by Elizabeth Henderson

   For several years, I followed the engaging saga of the Arnosky’s farm in this magazine (Growing for Market).  They added more flowers, more acres, more greenhouses, more employees.  Then they added vegetables.  And then they announced that they had no more time to write for Growing for Market, an activity they had seemed to enjoy.  While creative and adventurous in their farming techniques, the Arnosky’s turned out to be orthodox true believers in their business strategy.  The sign over the door of US business reads:  “if you aren’t growing, you’re dying.”  The ag. establishment bullies farms with the demand: “get bigger or get out.”  Are these good mantras for sustainable farm businesses?  Wouldn’t “resilience,” and ”dynamic equilibrium” be healthier goals to guide us in developing our farms?   

     Achieving dynamic equilibrium or dynamic stability means finding a way to run your farm so that it does not run you into the ground.  Designing your farm for maximum resilience means that you can withstand the shocks of bad weather, business cycles, and the fragility of human existence.  Most of us who are doing market farming chose this path because growing vegetables or flowers or tending livestock is something we love to do.  We get satisfaction from living close to the earth, working outdoors, planting and seeing things grow, nurturing living creatures, using our bodies as well as our minds.  We can imagine small-scale farming as a wonderful style of life for ourselves and future generations.  The trick is to design our farms so that we do not destroy our love.  That means we have to find the right scale of activities, the number of acres we can handle, the optimum amount of equipment, the fairest markets, and the financial goals that will make our farming socially as well as environmentally sustainable.

Jerry Dell Farms in Dryden, NY now licensed to sell raw milk

From ODairy:

BIG news for raw milk and the consumer!!

The LARGEST ORGANIC DAIRY in the Northeast US is now licensed by the NY State Dept. of Agriculture and Markets to provide consumers directly with uncooked, unfooled-around-with, natural, organic RAW MILK. Jerry Dell Farms in Dryden, NY (Ithaca area) now has a NYS Raw Milk Permit according to NYS Ag & Markets Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services. Though large by local, organic standards, it is still a small farm compared to the large conventional industrial milk "factories". They produce about 30,000lbs or about 3,500 gallons of organic, pastured, quality milk per day, so COME AND GET IT NEW YORK!

Jerry Dell Farm is a family farm owned by operated Vaughn Sherman & family. We congratulate him on his commitment to quality organic dairy and on his courage to stand up to Organic Valley. Mr. Sherman is not only an Organic Valley member farm, but is also chairman of the OV Dairy Executive Committee (DEC) so this should be a very interesting situation as it unfolds. I'm sure most of you are well aware of the prohibition that Organic Valley has placed on its member farms regarding the sale of Raw Milk. As I said before, Jerry Dell is the largest organic dairy in the Northeast, more than doubling the production of the next largest farm, so I find it hard to believe that they will "kick them to the curb". They may regret it if they do as this farm is big enough to have its own bottling plant. NY Raw milk permits only allow on farm sales, but a small plant could provide the low-temp pasteurized, non-homogenized milk that has seen real growth in popularity. This opt! ion also offers the producer an alternative to the big monopolistic dairy coops and processors. Or better yet, we could all pick up the phone and tell your NY Senators and Assemblymen & Assemblywomen to LEGALIZE OFF FARM SALES OF RAW MILK! All our best to Vaughn Sherman & Family!

Wednesday, June 22

Washington Post features local McDonald Farm

The original article can be found here.
Ole McDonald Makes a Comeback in NY's Finger Lakes and Hangs Out a "Clean Food" Shingle 
By Associated Press 
The Washington Post          
June 22, 2011
Ole McDonald 
Peter McDonald assigns his 9-year-old twin boys the tricky task of erecting a mesh fence in one part of the family farm, then tramps across lushly carpeted fields for a daily evaluation of his grass-chomping cows and sheep.

But first, there's ... Hello! A hundred head-bobbing turkeys interrupt their foraging for bugs and clover-leaf morsels to hurtle across the pasture to greet him.

Behind this wholesome agrarian drama with its “Old McDonald” echoes from long ago is a determined effort to crystallize the definition of grass-based livestock farming. A father of nine with a picaresque past and a famous brother in Hollywood, this 57-year-old McDonald allows his assortment of amiable animals to loiter outdoors all day over a dense mix of grasses untainted by chemical fertilizers.

Saturday, June 18

Broccoli and carrots and tomatoes, oh my!: The Youth Grow Summit

by Emily Belle, Selene Chew and Amanda Wagner

Farming is cool
We learned that in school!

Tons of youth love it
So we’re having a summit!

We demand local
We will be vocal!

We don’t mind getting dirty
We’re all under thirty!

Don’t panic
It’s organic!


Economically just
It’s a must!

Food for all
All for food!

Broccoli and carrots and tomatoes, oh my!
The Youth Grow Summit

This summer, high school students from across New York State will come together in our quest for food justice and environmental stability. The Youth Grow Summit, a new initiative sponsored by the Cornell Garden-Based Learning Program, will be held from June 28-30, and will provide a forum for youth to discuss issues related to agricultural and food systems. Workshops will cover a breadth of topics, from leadership training and community organizing to the fundamentals of sustainable agriculture. Summit participants will have the opportunity to get into the fields in various farms and gardens around Ithaca, where they can experience the reality of local, community-oriented food systems and learn some new hands-on farming techniques.

As students at the Lehman Alternative Community School, we have had the chance to integrate the ideas of the local food movement into our lives, both inside and outside of the classroom. This spring, a group from our Ecology class joined a regional delegation and thousands of other youth at the Power Shift conference in Washington, DC. There, we took to the streets and lobbied our representatives on Capitol Hill, demonstrating our commitment to providing a sustainable future for people of all backgrounds and experiences. Now, we are excited to apply the energy and inspiration that came out of Power Shift to one of the most important factors in our vision for a better, healthier world: reshaping the food systems that support us and represent our most basic interaction with the earth. Over the last year, we have been able to work within our school and in collaboration with initiatives around Ithaca that share our goals. We look forward to expanding our network and learning from other knowledgeable, dedicated individuals at the Youth Grow Summit.

Come join us! Learn more and register to participate at http://blogs.cornell.edu/youthgrow/about/

Peace out, be happy, eat kale

~Emily, Selene, and Amanda