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, March 23

Giving Ground: How Land Access Empowers New Farmers

Young farmers Sam Bosco and Simone Lackey are entering into
a land agreement with Giving Ground Farm this year.
by Devon Van Noble

It is our pleasure to share with you some wonderful news about connections being made between new farmers and landowners in the Groundswell community.

Dedicated young farmers and Sam Bosco and his partner Simone Lackey have begun preparing for their first season at Giving Ground Farm with Betti and Joe Lambro in Hector, New York. Other friends in the area, Aaron Munzer and Kara Cusolito have launched Plowbreak Farm on land leased from Daryl and Suzanne Anderson. These types of land sharing arrangements are important opportunities for beginning farmers, who might not otherwise have access to farmland on which to learn and grow.

We are truly grateful for the strength of the small- and medium- scale farmers in the region that bring so much bounty to this area. In addition to feeding us, these producers have garnered invaluable knowledge about the land and life here. Their knowledge, along with new land opportunities, are essential ingredients for establishing the next generation of producers. By continuing to leverage these opportunities as a community, we can do a lot to support the preservation of local agricultural knowledge through the new farmers who carry on the traditions, and adapt them.

Today new farmers come up against enormous financial barriers to land ownership. The transition of resources from generation to generation has not been a historically equitable process. Many communities have been largely denied access to agricultural resources, especially land. Today, when land transfer happens, it often passes down through close relationships, which maintains the status quo of what kinds of people own land. New farmers, many of whom do not have farming families, often start out by renting land through short-term leases before they either are able to buy land or enter a long-term agreement.

Wednesday, March 21

The Quintessential Black Farmer: African American Women Growers Unite

by Kirtrina Baxter

In recognition of women’s history month, I'd like to take a look at today’s African American women growers and how we are uniting in this new food movement. I just so happen to belong to a Facebook group that serves to connect women of color who have a love for growing food. In this forum, we discuss the many celebrations and tribulations of growing food and rejoice in individual accomplishments along the way. One of my sistaz on this page writes a wonderful blog called The Black/Land project. This project is set up to collect stories around the globe of how black people (or African descendants, as I like to say) relate to land. Through this project, she is able to connect with many different people of African descent.

This blog hosts an ongoing discussion of how women of African descent relate to land and place (there is also a video that accompanies this topic). It is of interest to note the diverse ways that these women relate to land, space and place. Some of the stories were very familiar to me, like one woman who said her mother, who was made to garden as a young girl, would not garden again because of this. I laughed when I heard this, thinking of how much I hated to weed my mother’s tomato garden as a child too! Some other stories were pretty foreign to me, like a women writer who loves horses tells the story of how she connected to the land while doing a project that included mules and horses. The stories ranged from women not feeling a relationship to the land at all before being asked about it, to those who relish in the wild daily. However, what resonated with each woman was a sense or understanding that land is important to us as a community, even if that had not been thought previously.

Back at the Facebook page, I smile as one sista talks about starting seed potatoes and another mentions building a raised bed for a friend because the weather is so nice. I grimace as one of my sistaz talks of throwing out her back pitching manure, and I sign on to car pool for an upcoming conference. There are beekeepers in this forum who speak with other women wanting to get started. They offer advice, resources and encouragement. All in all, this group has become a source of comfort to all of us who are remembering our connection to the land and creating opportunities for growth in our communities and families.