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.

Friday, September 16

Volunteer Spotlight: Fred Schoeps

Since being a part of its creation in 2009, Fred Schoeps has volunteered for Groundswell in many capacities and we are grateful for the significant commitment he continues to make!

By Devon Van Noble

This month’s Volunteer Spotlight is on a very special Groundswell contributor, Fred Schoeps. Fred was instrumental in the planning and creation of the Groundswell Center in 2008-9 and he has continued to provide support through advising, envisioning, and putting his shoulder to the wheel on numerous projects.

Fred’s contributions have included helping to manage the early phases of our website development, scoping out database options for tracking our many contacts in the community, reviewing budgets and grant proposals, and harnessing his tremendous passion for Groundswell to reach out to organizational supporters and community members. He is a model of inspired and inspiring volunteer commitment, making himself available to address almost any of Groundswell’s organizational needs as they come up. He was also our first Advisor to step forward with a generous donation for the Groundswell Farm Enterprise Incubator.

“Fred brings a wealth of business and organizational expertise to the Groundswell team,” says Groundswell Director Joanna Green. “He is absolutely passionate about what he calls 'knowledge management systems' and he loves to think creatively about how to improve communications, organize information, and support people to achieve great things.” Fred’s professional background includes many years with IBM in its systems engineering, management consulting and marketing departments. He was a member of the launch team for IBM’s original foray into the PC business and later, as IBM’s Director of Learning and Knowledge Management, was instrumental in the Re-Engineering IBM project. After retiring from IBM he moved with his wife Margot to Ithaca in 2008. Shortly thereafter he joined the Board of Directors for EVI, Inc. that advises EcoVillage at Ithaca Center for Sustainability Education.

Student Profile: Marcia Harrington

This month, Groundswell is proud to spotlight Marcia Harrington, a trainee from Groundswell's New Farmer Training Program!

A lifetime New Yorker from Syracuse, Marcia grew up spending time in the garden and has happy early memories of her grandfather’s small urban farm. Her interest in agriculture continued in her teen years, when she enjoyed visiting family member’s farms. 6 years ago, after years of backyard gardening, she began seriously looking for a property where she could create a farm of her own. Two years ago, she bought a beautiful piece of land in the town of Skaneateles, and found herself living her dream of getting back to the land. Although Marcia did have an understanding of agriculture that she gleaned at an early age, she felt she needed to get some training to refresh her knowledge and says the New Farmer Training Program has given her the confidence to begin some of her dream projects. 

Although she spent brief periods of her life in other places across the Northeast, Marcia has maintained a very close connection to the Central New York area. As a young adult, Marcia got a Fine Arts Education between Carnegie-Mellon and Syracuse Univeristy. She had a studio at Eureka Studios in Armory Square where she founded a figure-drawing group called the “Walton St. Irregulars” that provided local atists with an opportunity to work with live models. In the 1980’s she became a cartographer at SU, where her work focused on thematic mapping of post-colonial Latin America. Marcia has also been a committed community organizer, active in the Interreligious Council’s Community Dialogue to End Racism, Syracuse’s Tomorrow’s Neighborhoods Today community councils, working in community gardens, and on the Board of the Syracuse Neighborhoods Initiative, addressing neighborhood vitality and safety. For the past 12 years, she worked for United Way of Central New York as the Marketing Vice President.

Marcia’s 8-acre homestead has been the same contiguous parcel since the house was first built in 1830, and has been a family homestead farm ever since. The previous owners had bought it just after the Great Depression and raised a family there. When the patriarch passed away, the home sat empty for about 5 years before Marcia moved in. Because it had not been updated in some time, Marcia hired a contractor to renovate the home. But when he went bankrupt in the middle of the project, Marcia realized that she was going to have to learn much more than just how to farm. She soon found that home renovtions can be a time and money pit, but the the work itself was something she could learn to do and she steadily took on each new challenge. Working on the home renovations gave her time to observed the land’s life through the year before she planted or modified the landscape, but this spring she could wait no longer! She prepared a 50’ x 50’ garden (see above; Marcia’s garden in June 2011) and has already grown a wide variety of herbs, flowers, and vegetables (see below; September 2011). You can see the joy in Marcia’s face when she describes the beautiful land and its Wassaic silt loam soil!

Ithaca’s Growing Food Justice Movement

By Kirtrina Baxter

The food justice movement in Ithaca and surrounding areas is spreading fast. What exactly is a food justice movement, you ask? Well, according to Robert Gottlieb and Anupama Joshi, authors of the book Food Justice,

Food advocates may work on several different issue areas, but share the common goal of challenging the injustices that exist throughout the dominant industrial and increasingly globalized food system. By striving to alleviate these injustices in the entire food system, the Food Justice movement is linked to and supports allied movements such as those related to the environment, land use, health, immigration, worker rights, economic and community development, cultural integrity, and social justice.”

For decades, there has been a robust local foods movement in our area, promoting healthier ways to eat while educating people on sustaining our community. However, because the planning of this was not inclusive, ultimately the benefits of this movement have not been shared by all. The food justice movement strives to correct this fact by engaging communities of color and those of limited means so that they too have access to affordable, healthy food choices. Not only that, but the food justice movement serves to include diverse voices in the planning of a local food system that benefits all populations of our community and address issues of disparities and inequities. But as the definition above alludes to, the food justice movement seeks to provide a holistic approach to addressing the inadequacies of our current food system.

The fight against our current food system is also about community health. The rates of diabetes and high blood pressure disproportionately affect people in communities of color and next, people in lower income ranges. Information about the connections between our health and our eating habits are being addressed somewhat by health agencies, however, giving community members the resources to access culturally relevant food solutions is still a large problem.