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, June 18

Take our Beginning Producer Survey!

The Groundswell Incubator Farm

Your input is valuable! Please complete our short online survey so we can find out more about your plans and your needs.


2012 Farm Enterprise Incubator - Beginning Producer Survey

Are you interested in farming but have no land of your own and no resources to buy land? Have you grown something for years in your garden that you are ready to produce on a larger-scale? Want to get some experience raising small livestock? Do you need some management experience under your belt before you can qualify for a loan to buy your own farm?
If any of the above describes you, we need your input!
We are now developing plans and policies for the Groundswell Farm Enterprise Incubator, and will be taking applications in Fall 2012 for the first group of “Incubees”, who will launch their enterprises in the 2013 season. We want to hear what your interests are, as well as what kinds of support would be most helpful for you to grow your enterprise. The feedback we receive from beginning producers will continue to help us to design effective program policies and support, as well as infrastructure that is suitable to the enterprises being incubated.
Your input will help to determine both:
the types of support and mentoring the Program will provide for “Incubee” enterprises, such as:
  • Financial planning/ training
  • Production planning
  • Developing a clear business model/plan
  • Market development
  • Processing capacity
  • Relationship-building
as well as the design plan for the site and its infrastructure, that will suit the enterprises of beginning producers in the area, including:
  • Type of water access
  • Fencing
  • Barn, sheds, hoophouses, or livestock shelters
  • Processing facilities that are compatible with multiple enterprises
  • Equipment and Field services
Complete the short online survey here so we can find out more about your plans and your needs.
We also encourage you to contact us directly about the Groundswell Center’s Farm Enterprise Incubator Program, either at info@groundswellcenter.org or at (607) 277-0180. We are available to speak with you about your interest in access to low-cost land and infrastructure at the Incubator Site.

Connecting Land and People

Abandoned potato digger at the Groundswell Incubator Farm.
Photo by Devon Van Noble
 by Devon Van Noble

In the past several years we have witnessed the Groundswell Center develop into a wonderful suite of programs for beginning farmers and food citizens. We thank all of you for making this momentum possible! 

Recently Groundswell has begun to go beyond farmer training to engage in conversations about farmland access for aspiring farmers. Groundswell first touched on this conversation last fall in planning for the Farm Enterprise Incubator, which will offer access to land, infrastructure and support for diverse producers in the early years of their farm-based enterprise. However, the Incubator is only one piece in a community-wide puzzle of how to successfully connect new producers with land opportunities. For some of these land seekers, the Incubator will offer readily accessible infrastructure, training, and business development that they will need to get started. Others are prepared to seek independent land arrangements, but do not have the ability to create an agreement with landowners who could offer what they need. 

As a community, it is important to find out how to best provide both land seekers and owners with the knowledge of how to make successful rental, transfer, and purchase arrangements, and possibly more critically, how to effectively build trusting and mutually beneficial partnerships between the diverse new producers in the area, and the current farmers and non-farming landowners. We know that there are a variety of ways that people have been trying to access and offer land for new enterprises, and we wanted to hear more about people’s experiences have been locally. Last week, we brought together members of the Groundswell community for a conversation on “Connecting Land and People”. A group of current farmers, "greenhorns," and food citizens gathered to share their thoughts about the status of land access in the area and the actions that could be taken to enhance it. 

The Quintessential Black Farmer: Rashida's Earthship

Rashida Ali-Campbell and her earthship. Image courtesy of Rashida Ali-Campbell and Earthship Biotecture

by Kirtrina Baxter

In the wonderful world of sustainable housing, we have gotten to know many different ways to build environmentally-conscious, earth-friendly housing, so this new (well new for me since I am just learning of it) way to build green housing should come as no shock, even though the name speaks volumes…Earthship! Philadelphia is soon to be home to one of thousands of these green buildings that have been created around the world by designer and creator of “Earthship Biotecture”, Michael Reynolds. In this case, it is not Mr. Reynolds who is building it, but an African American woman named Rashida Ali-Campbell.

Sista Ali-Campbell first got the idea after watching a documentary called “Garbage Warrior” about Mr. Reynolds' Earthships.  She was immediately awed by the idea and wanted one for herself. But Ali-Campbell’s dedication to service and community made her think of ways to share this new found idea. “If only we had a self-sustainable building like that, the money we were always so worried about could be used to help people find a purpose, pay off their debt and send their kids to school.” So sista Ali-Campbell decided she would build a school for low-income residents to learn sustainable building techniques in this unique urban “Earthship Academy.”

Earthships are entirely made of natural and found materials, things like tires, glass and plastic bottles, and crushed aluminum cans. The name was coined because they look like spaceships as tires packed with dirt serve as the building foundation. They have the ability to heat and cool themselves, and produce wind and solar energy while growing their own fruits and vegetables. Some of these homes even come with chicken coops for eggs and catfish ponds. Earthships have their own sewage system and collect and sterilize water. They are totally self-sufficient and utility free.