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 30

Farmers v. Monsanto

GMO corn in Germany.
This message, from Gianni Ortiz, contains information about an upcoming gathering to show support for the 82 farmers who are taking agro-tech giant Monsanto to court in The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA), et. al. v. Monsanto. Gianni is organizing a delegation from Upstate NY to make an appearance at the event. For more information about the case, click here.

Sorry for any duplication and please share with lists and friends generously.

Hello Everyone,

The Bus will be leaving promptly at 6am Tuesday January 31st from the old Wal-Mart parking lot in Hudson. The exact address is 351 Fairview Avenue, Hudson, NY 12534. Please be there no later than 5:45 am. Those who have already confirmed are guaranteed a seat, everyone else will be first come, first sat – maximum capacity is 55 passengers. Bring anything you will need to be comfortable for the day. We will reserve space for signs, etc… The weather should be quite gorgeous with temperatures in the low 50’s. Also we are asking that those in our group wear a purple armband so that we can keep track of and support each other during the action. You can find guidelines for signage and more at www.osgata.org.

We will be gathering with occupywallstreet. They are planning on having a large demonstration with a timeline of different egregious actions committed by Monsanto over the years, a teach-in, and possibly a large banner. A big thank you the organizers of Occupy Big Food and Occupy Wall Street Food Justice for their hard work on this. I believe we will be leaving Foley Square at mid-afternoon but cannot guarantee that, so please make your plans accordingly. Departure time from NYC will be announced the morning of. We have the use of the bus up until leaving NYC at 6pm.

Tuesday, January 24

Break Bread, Not Shale

Local baker Stefan Senders baked 200 loaves of bread, and then, with the help of Thor Oechsner, the farmer who grew the grain and Neal Johnston, the miller who milled the grain into flour, he carried them all from a veggie oil powered VW station wagon to Sunday's rally in Albany, distributed them to the protesters, marched and chanted all day, drove home in the darkness went home, fired up his ovens and began baking bread to distribute to the members of the Wide Awake breadshare today. Thank you Stefan.

Shale Gas Rally speech, Albany, New York

by Stefan Senders
Wide Awake Bakery
Trumansburg, New York

My name is Stefan Senders, and I am a baker. Beside me are Thor Oechsner, an organic farmer, and Neal Johnston, a miller. We work together.

Today we bring bread to Albany to intervene in the self-destruction of the great State of New York. We come, Farmers, Bakers, and Millers, to remind our state and our Governor, Andrew Cuomo, that despite the promises of industry lobbyists, the exploitation of Shale Gas in New York is a bad and broken economy of the worst kind.

This bread is the product of our community and our farms. The wheat, grown, tended, and harvested by our local organic farmers, is fresh from the soil of New York. The flour, ground in our local flour mill, is as fine as concerned and caring hands can make it. To resurrect a term long since emptied by advertisers, the wheat, the flour, and the bread are wholesome: they bring our communities together, give us work, nourish us, please our senses, and make our bodies and our land more healthy. This is good economy. It is wise economy. It is a steady economy that nourishes the State of New York.

Friday, January 20

Growing the Farm Enterprise Incubator in 2012

The Farm Enterprise Incubator at EcoVillage at Ithaca in 2011.
By Devon Van Noble

This winter marks a new phase for Groundswell’s Farm Enterprise Incubator — a program designed to provide beginning food producers with affordable, low-risk access to land, business mentorship, training, and support.  The Incubator program is especially focused on providing these opportunities to limited resource and socially-disadvantaged communities in the area.  For now, a field of approximately 10 acres has been designated by EcoVillage at Ithaca as the initial site of the Groundswell Incubator. This winter, Groundswell is engaging in a planning process with farmers and potential incubees to ensure that the Incubator meets everyone's needs.

Permaculture Design at the Incubator Site

This past August, we began regularly walking the 10-acre Incubator site with our two farmer-consultants, Melissa Madden and Garrett Miller of the Good Life Farm in Interlaken, NY.  Having just used a permaculture design process to create their own 69-acre farm, we knew they would be wonderful coaches to help us thoroughly assess and understand the 10 acre site at EcoVillage.  Permaculture design is a process of truly understanding both the land and the people that you are working with.  Not only have we been evaluating the water flows, soil composition, and landform that make up the Incubator site, but Melissa and Garrett also helped us design an interview process that collects a swath of useful information from the many stakeholders who have an interest in the Incubator project.

After Melissa and Garrett introduced the permaculture principles, I think some of us were ready to just start designing!  But they kept reminding us that we had a lot of observations to make and data to collect before we would be prepared to actually lay out plans for the site.  Permaculture is really an iterative process between the needs of the land, the people and the life around them, so one of Melissa’s ongoing tasks has been to keep checking our expectations for the Incubator and help us to be open to the process as it develops. 

Thursday, January 19

Student Profile: Max Chapman

Groundswell volunteer Audrey Gyr caught up with 2010 Summer Practicum student Max Chapman to find out what he's been up to and what the Practicum means to him.

Max Chapman
Max Chapman first heard about Groundswell's Summer Practicum from his adviser Kelly Wessel when he was an Environmental Studies major at TC3. At the time, Max was interested in becoming a biology major and was hoping to gain a greater scientific background in agriculture. He quickly grew to love working on West Haven Farm in Ithaca and began to feel a deeper connection to the Ithaca area after visiting local farms and businesses. 

He began working at Greenstar Cooperative Market in Ithaca after a Practicum class visit, and you can currently catch him at the deli counter at the West end location. He says that taking part in the Summer Practicum "broadened my awareness and consciousness, and helped shape my personal philosophy." He enjoys working at Greenstar because they sell many local products and he can see firsthand how they contributes to Ithaca's food system. When not working at Greenstar, Max is busy completing his EMT certification. In the future he plans on focusing on wilderness medicine.

Friday, January 13

Fracking and Farming Are Not Compatible

By Joanna Green

In 2011, Groundswell Advisers agreed unanimously to take a stand in opposition to hydraulic fracturing in our region. Director Joanna Green submitted the following comments to NYS Department of Environmental Conservation on January 11:

I am commenting on behalf of the staff, Steering Committee and Advisors of the Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming based in Ithaca. NY. We urge that DEC withdraw the draft SGEIS on the basis of its failure to evaluate the potential for unparalleled negative impacts on the integrity and economic viability of agriculture in our state.

As an organization devoted to agricultural and food system education, Groundswell collaborates with dozens of farmers, food businesses, educational institutions, organizations and community groups here in central New York in order to build a resilient, ecologically sound and equitable food system for our region. In our first two years of programming we have provided intensive training and education for over one hundred aspiring and beginning farmers.

These farmers are dedicating their lives to creating a strong and enduring agriculture that will continue to feed us here in New York and the wider region for generations to come; an agriculture that is responsible to our local communities and to our neighbors downstream. They are ready to invest everything they have in creating a sustainable and abundant future for New York.

Groundswell is a very young organization and we have no precedent for taking positions on matters of public policy. However, after much discussion our diverse group of almost 30 Advisors agreed unanimously to take a stand in opposition to hydraulic fracturing in our region. We have taken this action because the evidence suggests hydrofracking is likely to have serious detrimental impacts on the economic viability and ecological sustainability of our farms and wineries, our regional food system, and our communities.

New York State is on the verge of an agricultural renaissance. This revival of interest in farming, especially in our youth, has the potential to create thousands of new jobs and livelihoods, reduce our medical costs, and feed hungry communities, all while conserving our natural resources. If we choose to support a method of energy extraction that displaces and deters farming entrepreneurs, hinders regional agricultural investment, and damages our resource base, we are seriously undermining upstate New York’s most vital economic engine, and weakening the foundation for a robust and sustainable regional food system. And we are nipping in the bud the dreams and destinies of our future farmers.

We believe a better approach is to foster a diversity of economic strategies and land-based solutions that strengthen our communities and protect our future. New York State is blessed with a vibrant diversity of land-based enterprises that contribute significantly to the State’s economy and to our social and cultural vitality. We understand that if we want to see our agricultural economy and our farming families prosper in the future, we must protect the integrity of the resource base which sustains this economy and this way of life.

Sunday, January 8

Leading scientist says agroecology is the only way to feed the world

There is much discussion today about the need to “feed the world” because of the growing global population. What do you think needs to be done in order to ensure there is adequate food for everyone in the world?

HH: The issue is less on how to feed the world than how to nourish the poor and hungry. Today we produce 4600 calories per person per day, so there is enough food to feed twice the present population. The problem is that we produce mostly cheap commodities rather than quality food. These cheap products, in addition to being of low nutritional value, are based on a few crops that carry a large ecological, social, and economic footprint. What is needed is to support farmers in developing countries to grow their own healthy food by providing information, know-how, financial support for inputs, and support for them to access markets, among others.

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