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, November 23

Video: Malik Yakini: Undoing Racism in the Food System

Malik Kenyatta Yakini was invited to Ithaca, NY to share his experiences in Detroit's urban agriculture development with our growing food justice movement. This community conversation took place in Cornell University's Anabel Taylor Hall café after a weekend of food justice events in Ithaca. Yakini is a founder and the Interim Executive Director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, which operates a four acre farm in Detroit and spearheaded efforts to establish the Detroit Food Policy Council, which he chairs. He is an activist and educator dedicated to working to identify and alleviate the impact of racism and white privilege in the food system. He views the "good food revolution" as part of the larger movement for freedom, justice and equality. He currently serves as a Food and Community Fellow of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

Event cosponsored by: Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming, New World Agriculture and Ecology Group at Cornell, Albert R. Mann Library, Cornell Department of Development Sociology, Dorothy Cotton Institute, Gardens 4 Humanity, Whole Community Project, Cornell Garden-Based Learning Program, Moosewood Restaurant

Tuesday, November 22

Modern Day Slavery in Agriculture: Another Good Reason to Buy Local

Florida farm workers tell their stories as part of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' anti-slavery media campaign.
By Milagros Gustafson Hernandez

In 1993, in Immokalee, Florida a group of Latino, Mayan, and Haitian workers began meeting regularly to discuss changes in their community.
They organized and named themselves the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (“CIW”). Fighting for fairer wages, and succeeding, they moved on to help the federal government in the fight against involuntary servitude through worker-led investigations. In the last 10 years they have helped in the prosecution of 7 cases in Florida alone (with two pending) --exposing the horrendous farm-worker abuses. Here are some examples:

  • U.S. vs. Flores -- In 1997, Miguel Flores and Sebastian Gomez were sentenced to 15 years each in federal prison on slavery, extortion, and firearms charges, amongst others. Flores and Gomez had a workforce of over 400 men and women in Florida and South Carolina, harvesting vegetables and citrus.

  • U.S. vs. Cuello -- In 1999, Abel Cuello was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison on slavery charges. He had held more than 30 tomato pickers in two trailers in the isolated swampland west of Immokalee, keeping them under constant watch. Three workers escaped the camp, only to have their boss track them down a few weeks later. The employer ran one of them down with his car, stating that he owned them. The workers sought help from the CIW and the police, and the CIW worked with the DOJ on the ensuing investigation. Cuello worked for Manley Farms North Inc., a major Bonita Springs tomato supplier. Once out of prison, Cuello supplied labor to Ag-Mart Farms, a tomato company operating in Florida and North Carolina.

Student Profile: Ellie Limpert (Summer Practicum 2010)

Ellie at West Haven Farm.

Groundswell volunteer Audrey Gyr caught up with former Groundswell student Ellie Limpert this past week to capture her reflections on her participation in Groundswell's Summer Practicum in Sustainable Farming & Local Food Systems.

Groundswell: What is your background?

Ellie Limpert: I am a senior at Cornell University majoring in Biology and Society with a focus on Human and Environmental Health, and Agricultural Development. Before the Summer Practicum I was a nutritional science major. My minimal agricultural experience was as a horticulture apprentice at a greenhouse for 2 summers, and a bit of volunteering at Dilmun Hill the student Organic Farm. 2010- I was unsure how to spend my summer, I got an email from a sustainability club about the practicum and I was intrigued…looked into it, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. 

GS: Where are you and what are you doing now?

EL: I am currently studying abroad in Granada Spain—in an Environmental Studies program. I am taking classes on Sustainability in the Mediterranean, Environmental Politics of the European Union, and Ecosystems of the Andalucia. In addition (most exciting!) I have found work on a local small organic farm! Never would I have even dreamt of seeking this out on my own, but since working at West Haven I have been longing to be on a farm again—there honestly isn’t another way I’d rather spend my free time—and it’s one of my most cherished experiences here!