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, July 20

Student Profile: Allan Gandelman

Allan Gandelman is a student in Groundwell's New Farmer Training Program.

Interview by Devon Van Noble
Allan Gandelman in the greenhouse
at Main Street Farms.

Allan has had a lifelong passion for farming. "For the past 10 years I had my own gardens, fruit trees, and raised goats in New Paltz," he says. When he moved to the area and began working as a middle/high school social studies teacher at Cortland Alternatives School, Allan found himself deeply interested in school food. "Being aware of school food issues in the Cortland County School District inspired me to be able to provide healthy food for kids year round, food that didn't depend on international sources."

Now Allan is an urban farmer and entrepreneur in the rural town of Homer, NY. His enterprise, Main Street Farms, sells organic produce and vegetable transplants.  He hopes to tackle the issue of healthy school food by distributing his locally grown produce to area schools through his nonprofit, Schoolyard Gardens.

Student Profile: Joseph Amsili

Joseph Amsili is a student in Groundswell's Summer Practicum in Sustainable Farming & Local Food Systems.

by Drew Walsh, Summer Practicum Teaching Assistant
Joseph carries transplants destined
for the field at the Ithaca Youth Farm.

Joseph entered the world of local food in 11th grade at the Lehman Alternative Central School (LACS) as part of the Green Thumb Committee, spending his summers in the fields at the LACS garden and West Haven Farm.  During 11th and 12th grades, he was involved in in growing food for the school cafeteria in the LACS garden and hydroponically.  He recalls preparing lots of pesto, salsa, and other produce for the school, musing that even though slicing lots of peppers doesn't seem like much on the surface, he was also forging connections between students and their food as well as gaining a better understanding the environmental consequences of agriculture, which he finds to be extremely important and meaningful work.

After high school, Joseph spent some time abroad in Barcelona, tending gardens in a housing co-op and working with Transition Barcelona and Wiser Earth, an environmental activist networking site, in between his many hours of skateboarding.  Upon returning to the Ithaca area, he interned at Stick and Stone Farm, and resumed his volunteer work with the LACS garden and Localvores club.  Joseph attended American University for about a year, finding himself again working in student gardens and even began an internship at Will Allen's Growing Power, before that was cut short by a broken collarbone.