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.

Monday, January 31

Groundswell's Events Calendar

The Groundswell Events Calendar showcases upcoming farming and gardening events in the Finger Lakes area. Click here to view in full-screen mode. Email info@groundswellcenter.org to add an event to the list.

Farm Business Workshops Offered through Cornell Cooperative Extension

Whether you are an established farmer or just starting out, this is a good time of year to take stock and think about what could be done to increase sales and become more profitable. Cornell Cooperative Extension South Central NY Agriculture Program is offering three winter workshops on Sharpening Farm Business Skills focused on marketing and business analysis.

The workshops are offered in 3 locations on Saturday mornings. The first workshop on Feb. 5 in Montour Falls at the Schuyler County Extension office will focus on branding and promoting your business with an emphasis on building your identity and spending your marketing dollars wisely. A second marketing workshop on Feb. 19 at the Tioga County Extension office focuses on evaluating market channels you are using and on new marketing opportunities with a focus on how to establish successful marketing relationships. And the final workshop, on March 5, at the Cooperative Extension office in Tompkins County, will focus on record keeping and financial tools for business analysis.

All workshops run from 9:30-Noon at the various county extension office locations. Pre-registration is requested.

For Feb. 5 - call 535-7161; For Feb. 19 - call 687-4020; for March 5 call 272-2292. For more information as to which workshop is best for you, call Monika Roth at 607-272-2292.

Sunday, January 9

The Food Safety Modernization Act becomes law

On Tuesday, January 4th, President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), ending a long and contentious debate about the government's role in the food system. In general, the FSMA is designed to limit the spread of foodborne illness through increased regulation. Among other things, the bill allows the Secretary of Health & Human Services and the Food & Drug Administration to more frequently inspect food processing facilities, recall tainted food, and impose stricter regulations on imported food. While most applauded the move as much-needed consumer protection, many were concerned that new regulations could put family farms and other small producers at a great disadvantage.

Thanks to the efforts of many grassroots political action groups, the FSMA we have today is far more sensitive to the needs of small- and mid-scale farms and food producers. Instead of imposing one-size-fits-all regulations, paperwork, and costs, the Tester-Hagan and other amendments ensure that our local food producers receive fair and evenhanded treatment. The result is an FSMA that most sustainable agriculture organizations are hailing as a "victory" for the local food movement and consumers in general.

According to the National Sustainable Agriculture coalition, six amendments in particular sponsored by NSAC and remain intact in the final version of the FSMA were critical in making the FSMA a better, more effective Act for small farmers:
  • An amendment, sponsored by Senator Sanders (I-VT), giving FDA the authority to either exempt farms engaged in low or no risk processing or co-mingling activities from new regulatory requirements or to modify particular regulatory requirements for such farming operations.

Friday, January 7

What do we mean by a "sustainable" food system?

Food activists often say they work for a "sustainable," "healthy," "fair," and "diverse" food system. These words sound good enough. But what exactly do they mean? Clarifying our terms is an critical facet of making a coherent statement and a measurable impact on our communities. As organizations and individuals, we would do well to sit down with our colleagues and elucidate our mission statements to ensure that we are all on the same page when it comes to envisioning a better future.

Last summer, four major public health entities- The American Dietetic Association, American Nurses Association, American Planning Association, and American Public Health Association- did exactly that. They worked together to develop seven principles of a healthy, sustainable food system that they could use as a "shared platform for systems-wide food policy change." Groundswell joins them in affirming these vitally important tenets of a food system that works for everyone. Thanks to Groundswell advisor Gil Gillespie for sharing this important message.

Principles of a Healthy, Sustainable Food System

We support socially, economically, and ecologically sustainable food systems that promote health — the current and future health of individuals, communities, and the natural environment.
A healthy, sustainable food system is:

  • Supports the physical and mental health of all farmers, workers, and eaters
  • Accounts for the public health impacts across the entire lifecycle of how food is produced, processed, packaged, labeled, distributed, marketed, consumed, and disposed
  • Conserves, protects, and regenerates natural resources, landscapes, and biodiversity
  • Meets our current food and nutrition needs without compromising the ability of the system to meet the needs of future generations