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, October 12

Infrastructure, Equipment, and Tools

Digging a test hole at the Incubator Farm.
By Devon Van Noble

Finding or creating the right tool for the job. Using what you have in front of you. Self-sufficiency. Ingenuity. 

These are parts of farming that are really exciting to many farmers.  It’s an inspiring time to be part of the sustainable farming community, because there is a movement of innovative thinkers that are developing new techniques for producing and processing food that are cost-effective and accessible.  All types of farmers are utilizing these kinds of innovations to save money and labor, improve the function of their tools and farm, and most importantly, to create quality products without high-risk investments in capital.

Groundswell has been gearing up for the launch of the Farm Enterprise Incubator Program in early 2013, and began prepping fields at EcoVillage over this summer.  At the Incubator Farm, beginning farmers will be able to get access not only to land, but also to infrastructure, equipment, and tools. These things are essential to start growing food, but they're things that many new producers can’t afford before they are making sales of their own.  Once enrolled, Incubees will be able to lease land for up to 3 years before they graduate from the Program and are expected to transition to a new property.  This allows for new groups of beginning farmers to continue entering the program and benefit from the same infrastructure and resources.

Through a partnership between the Groundswell Center, beginning farmers, and support from the broader community, the “Incubees” will benefit from a three-year window to create enough revenue to capitalize their enterprise and transition to new land.  The community, in turn, will be supporting an enduring framework for new farmers to learn the skills and access the resources necessary to operate sustainable farm businesses that can feed local people.  The Incubator Program could play a significant role in the food and farming system in this region.

On October 21st, as part of the Groundswell Local Food & Farm Festival, we'll launch the 2012 Incubator Farm Infrastructure Campaign through Kickstarter, which will help fund the construction of farm infrastructure and purchase of cost-effective equipment.  This infrastructure will be utilized by diverse beginning producers, making it possible for many to get started who would not be able to do so otherwise.  We believe this framework is critical to healthy local food and farms, and we invite you to be a part of supporting it.  Supporters will receive various benefits for participating, such as having your name engraved or painted on one of the fence posts, t-shirts, or a tour of the Farm.  Donations will be accepted at the Local Food & Farm Festival hosted at EcoVillage, and on the web into December.

Applications Now Open for Groundswell Incubator Farm!

When the ice melts next spring, and the sun starts warming the ground, Groundswell's first group of “incubees” will be moving into their newly-leased sites at the Groundswell Incubator Farm, located at EcoVillage. Application forms for the Farm Enterprise Incubator Program are now available online, and we are encouraging all types of beginning farmers to consider applying.

The Groundswell Incubator Farm offers a relatively low-risk entry avenue for new producers by providing access to land, production and marketing infrastructure, production support services (such as tractor tillage), and ongoing support from experienced farmer- and business- mentors.

If you think you might be interested in the Incubator, we encourage you to meet one-on-one with incubator Coordinator Devon Van Noble, who can answer your questions and help you complete the application forms. You can reach Devon at devon@groundswellcenter.org, or  (607)319-5095. Or you can find the application materials online at www.groundswellcenter.org. Click on Programs/Incubator.

The Incubator Application Form has two parts: Part 1 is a Personal Data Form and Part 2 is a Farm Enterprise Data Form. Your responses will give us a picture of your farm business concept, your cultural and farming background is, your current resources and your needs, both personally and for the business.
Learn about the Incubator Oversight Team...

About the Incubator Oversight Team

Starting a new farm business is a complex task, and creating a supportive environment for beginning farmers to grow their businesses requires a range of knowledge and backgrounds. The Incubator Oversight Team is composed of a mix of experienced and new farmers, business mentors, finance specialists, and landowners.
Since April of 2012, this Team has been meeting regularly to lay out the groundwork for the Incubator Program, and have been central in creating application materials. Together with Groundswell staff, the Oversight Team will be selecting a group of applicants to be Groundswell’s first group of incubee farmers by January 2013, and will continue to be involved in each incubee’s development through the program. The Team will serve as business and production mentors and will help each Incubee to assess their farm business plans, goals, and progress.
Groundswell Staff and the Oversight Team look forward to working with you on your farm enterprise. Get in touch with us if you, or someone you know, would like to apply.