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.

Thursday, August 18

EVI turns 20!

EcoVillage was the benefactor that made the creation of Groundswell possible just three years ago. Now EVI is celebrating their 20th anniversary, and you're invited!

EcoVillage at Ithaca Celebrates its 20th Anniversary
Saturday, September 17, 2011, 1- 4pm, Free & Open to the public
EcoVillage at Ithaca, 100 Rachel Carson Way, Ithaca, NY (off Route 79 West, 2 miles west of Route 13.)

Come Celebrate! EcoVillage at Ithaca is 20 Years and Growing. Twenty years ago, EcoVillage at Ithaca held a kick-off event, a five day “Envisioning Retreat” attended by 100 people. The purpose of the retreat was to inspire people to create an ecological village, one that could serve as an educational model of sustainable living. Now, twenty years later, award-winning EVI is one of the most well-known ecovillages in the world, and the largest in the U.S.

While there is much to celebrate about the accomplishments of the last twenty years, EVI is looking ahead to the future, with the expansion of a new 40 unit neighborhood, a new 50 KW solar array to power the first neighborhood, and new educational programs, such as Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming www.groundswellcenter.org and a Climate Showcase Communities collaboration with Tompkins County Planning Department.
Free Tours of:
  • EcoVillage Cohousing Communities
  • New 50 KW solar array for 30 homes
  • Green Buildings
  • Organic Farms
Family Friendly Fun:
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Local musicians
  • U-Pick Raspberries
  • Solar Popcorn & Snacks
  • EcoVillage Crafts Sale
For further information contact: Fred Schoeps, kmtalk@earthlink.net, 914-500-7872 or Arlene Muzyka, amuzyka@panix.com, 908-537-9933

Groundswell Goes to Kentucky, Finds Friends in the Local & Just Foods Movement

Wendell Berry greets the crowd at the SAEA conference.
By Sam Bosco, Groundswell CRAFT Coordinator

It may be strange to see Groundswell, Lexington, Kentucky (over 650 miles away), and the word “local” in the same sentence. But indeed, two weeks ago, Groundswell and over a hundred people from across the country (and some from as far as Norway) descended upon the University of Kentucky’s (UK) campus from August 4th through the 5th to engage in a national conversation about education in local, sustainable agriculture – for students of higher education, youth, and adult learners, especially those in traditionally underserved communities. 

The Sustainable Agriculture Education Association (SAEA) provides the only forum for discussing education within sustainable agriculture on a national level. I represented Groundswell at the Association’s 4th conference,  presenting about Groundswell’s mission to provide diverse learners the access to knowledge and resources, through our educational programs, in order to facilitate the growth of a sustainable and equitable food system. 

In a series dedicated to new farmer training programs, I gave Groundswell’s presentation alongside the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Michigan State Univserity’s Organic Farmer Training Program, and the Farm Life Ecology Summer Intensive at Green Mountain College (Poultney, VT). The overall notion was that there is no one right way to grow a farmer and the diversity of approaches shared by the presenters is a testament to this. We all felt that each others’ offerings provided learning experiences and resource access in unique ways suited to our local context.

Sunday, August 7

Plowing Over: Can Urban Farming Save Detroit and Other Declining Cities? Will the Law Allow It?

This article from the American Bar Association Journal addresses the legal intricacies of urban farming in Chicago and other cities- how organizations are acquiring land, what zoning challenges they face, and how some city governments are bending their own rules to make way for the new green industry.
The article also links to three urban farming resources (in PDF) that are available for public view:
Growing Food in the City: The Production Potential of Detroit’s Vacant Land
Re-Imagining a More Sustainable Cleveland
Vacant Land Management in Philadelphia
It’s a warm day in April, and Skip Wiener is showing off the crown jewel of gardens that the Urban Tree Connection has created out of 29 vacant lots in the poverty-ridden Haddington neighborhood on Philadelphia’s west side.

The site, tucked away in the center of a block of 60 homes, once was used by a construction firm for storage. When Wiener, the founder and director of the UTC, was first alerted about the property by a local block captain, it was overgrown, riddled with industrial waste, and a haven for drug dealers and prostitutes.

It was just what the UTC was looking for. The nonprofit organization supports renewal efforts in low-income communities by turning abandoned open spaces into various types of gardens, including some devoted to growing fruits and vegetables.

The site is now called the Neighborhood Food Central Production Farm. Any remaining debris has been pushed to the side; wood chips have been sprinkled over the driveway; and, in the center, neat rows of vegetables are growing, marked by cheerful hand-painted signs announcing such crops as potatoes, bok choy, collards and cabbages.

The “farm” is special, partly because of its comparatively large size—two-thirds of an acre—but also because it’s the only property over which the UTC enjoys actual legal possession. On the others, says Wiener, the organization’s founder and executive director, “we’re basically squatting.”

The UTC’s farm typifies a growing but still uncertain movement to bring agriculture back to America’s cities.


Friday, August 5

Food Justice Certification Gains Momentum: Certifiers and Farm Worker Representatives Complete Training and Qualifying Exam

The Agricultural Justice Project proudly announces the awarding of certificates to representatives of four organic certification agencies and five farm worker organizations who successfully completed a 3-day training on the requirements for the Food Justice Certified label.  Twenty one people took part in the training May 3 – 5, 2011, in Eugene, Oregon, which included formal presentations on AJP standards and policies, and three practice inspections on area farms and a business. Management Committee member Sally Lee explained, “A Memo of Understanding with AJP will allow the certification agencies to offer our domestic fair trade certification to farms and food businesses across North America. A unique feature of the AJP system requires the trained certification inspectors to cooperate with representatives of farm worker organizations in performing the third party verification.”
The long-term goal of the AJP is to transform the existing unjust food system. AJP envisions a food system that is based on thriving, ecological family-scale farms that provide well-being for farmers, dignified work for wage laborers, and that distributes its benefits fairly throughout the food chain from seed to table. As a first small step towards this ambitious goal, AJP is launching domestic fair trade in the United States with a social justice label, Food Justice Certified. This new label allows family-scale farms to distinguish their products from industrialized organic products. The standards for this label are based on the complementary principles of fair pricing for the farmer and just working conditions for farm and food business workers resulting in a win/win/win/win scenario in which workers, farmers, buyers, and ultimately consumers all benefit.
For more information, contact Sally Lee at agjusticeproject@gmail.com or visit the website – www.agriculturaljusticeproject.org.

Monday, August 1

Via Campesina: Shashe Declaration

Via Campesina, the International Peasant Movement, just released the Shashe Declaration, a culmination of a recent meeting of agroecology trainers from around the globe. The document discusses threats to food security and affirms the goals and commitments of Via Campesina as they work to support sustainable farming by farmers with small holdings. To learn more, visit http://www.viacampesina.org.

1st Encounter of Agroecology Trainers in
Africa Region 1 of La Via Campesina

12-20 June 2011

Shashe Declaration

We are 47 people from 22 organizations in 18 countries (Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Angola, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, South Africa, Central African Republic, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, Portugal, USA, France, and Germany).  We are farmers and staff representing member organizations of La Via Campesina, along with allies from other farmer organizations and networks, NGOs, academics, researchers, interpreters and others.  

We have been meeting at the Shashe Endogenous Development Training Centre in Masvingo Province, Zimbabwe to plan how to promote agroecology in our Region (Southern, Eastern & Central Africa). Here we have been privileged to witness firsthand the successful combination of agrarian reform with organic farming and agroecology carried out by local small holder farming families.  In what were once large cattle ranches owned by three large farmers who owned 800 head of cattle and produced no grain or anything else, there are now more than 365 small holder peasant farming families with more than 3,400 head of cattle, who also produce a yearly average of 1 to 2 tonnes of grain per family plus vegetables and other products, in many cases using agroecological methods and local peasant seeds.  This experience strengthens our commitment to and belief in agroecology and agrarian reform as fundamental pillars in the construction of Food Sovereignty.