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, June 21

Understanding and Managing Weeds

Wednesday June 26, 5-8 PM, West Haven Farm, Ithaca, NY

Basics of weed biology & organic management strategies for vegetable farmers. Specific crop & weed issues. Tractor and hand cultivation techniques used at West Haven Farm for including flame weeding, stale seed beds, mulches and crop rotation. Instructor: Todd McLane, West Haven Farm Manager 
Cost: $45-$60 Voluntary Sliding Scale. To register email info@groundswellcenter.org.

Grazing Basics

Wednesday July 3, 5-8 PM, Northland Sheep Dairy, Marathon, NY

Basic principles and practices of intensive rotational grazing systems including forage biology, grazing behavior, stocking rates, paddock and lane design, moving animals, fencing and watering systems. 
Instructors: Troy "The Grass Whisperer" Bishopp, Grazing Specialist with Madison County Soil & Water Conservation District, and Maryrose Livingston, Grass Farmer 
Cost: $45-$60 Voluntary Sliding Scale. To register email info@groundswellcenter.org.

Grass-Fed Sheep Farming Basics

Sunday July 7, 1-4 PM, Northland Sheep Dairy, Marathon, NY

Fundamentals of sheep biology and behavior; opportunities and challenges for profitable organic sheep farming; basics of care, feeding, housing, parasite control, breeding, lambing, processing and marketing. Instructor: Maryrose Livingston, Sheep Farmer 
Cost: $45-$60 Voluntary Sliding Scale. To register email info@groundswellcenter.org.

Understanding & Managing Vegetable Pests & Diseases

Wednesday July 10, 5-8 PM, West Haven Farm, Ithaca, NY

Learn to identify some key diseases and pests of vegetables and practice scouting a variety of vegetable crops. Organic control methods and problem-solving for real life farm pest situations. 
Instructor: Todd McLane, West Haven Farm Manager 
Cost: $45-$60 Voluntary Sliding Scale. To register email info@groundswellcenter.org.

Pastured Poultry Basics

Wednesday July 17, 5-8 PM, Kingbird Farm, Berkshire, NY

Poultry biology and behavior; pastured poultry systems and business opportunities; basics of feeding, shelter, flock health, processing and marketing. Instructor: Karma Glos, Poultry Farmer Cost: $45-$60 Voluntary Sliding Scale. To register email info@groundswellcenter.org.

Grass-Fed Beef Basics

Wednesday July 24, 5-8 PM, Angus Glen Farm, Watkins Glen, NY

Opportunities and challenges for profitable grass-fed beef farming; beef cow biology and behavior; basics of care, feeding, handling, breeding, raising & finishing on grass alone, silvopasture systems, processing and marketing.
Instructor: Brett Chedzoy, Beef Farmer & Educator, Schuyler County CCE
Cost: $45-$60 Voluntary Sliding Scale. To register email info@groundswellcenter.org.

Pastured Basics

Wednesday July 31, 5-8 PM, Kingbird Farm, Berkshire, NY

Fundamentals of pig biology and behavior; managing pigs on pasture; basics of care, feeding, housing, breeding, farrowing, processing and marketing. 
Instructor: Karma Glos, Pig Farmer 
Cost: $45-$60 Voluntary Sliding Scale. To register email info@groundswellcenter.org.

See more workshops!

Groundswell Community Gathering - July 18

From the Director

You're invited! Groundswell Community Gathering July 18!

Mark your calendar for the next Groundswell Community Gathering on Thursday, July 18 at the new Sustainability Center at 111 N. Albany Street in downtown Ithaca. Enjoy a variety of locally sourced snacks and beverages starting at 6:30, followed by a short program and community discussion at 7 PM. We'll share highlights of our program impacts over the last several years, introduce you to some of the beginning farmers we've been working with, and talk about our funding outlook for the upcoming year and steps you can take to help Grow Your Farmer! See you there!

Thursday, June 20

Gardeners: Got Extra Veggies?

Friendship Donations Network Introduces the Pilot Year of Neighborhood Food Hubs!

Wondering how you can find a home for those pesky vegetables? FDN's new Neighborhood Food Hubs project will help Ithaca-area home gardeners donate their extra garden bounty, connect neighbors and communities to fresh, healthy, hyper-local food and reduce waste.

Purpose of Neighborhood Food Hubs
  • Help home gardeners donate their extra garden bounty.
  • Connect neighbors and communities to fresh, healthy, hyper-local food.
  • Reduce waste.

How Hubs Work
Neighborhood Food Hubs make donating garden produce easy!  A volunteer Hub Holder hosts a cooler on their front porch one day a week, which will serve as the drop-off location for produce. The Hub Team transfers produce from the Hub to FDN for redistribution to food pantries, other local meal programs, and individuals. The 2013 collection will start on July 15, more details coming soon.

How Hubs Help
  • Improves community access to fresh food.
  • Raises awareness about the impact of home-grown food.
  • Rescues lovingly-grown food from an untimely end at the compost heap.

Ways to Get Involved
  • Got an easily accessible porch?  Become a Hub Host!
  • Not ready to host a Hub?  Assist as a Hub Team volunteer.
  • Drop off your produce at a nearby Hub whenever you have extra.
  • Tell your neighbors about the Hub.

Neighborhood Food Hubs make donating garden produce easy!  A volunteer Hub Holder hosts a cooler on their front porch one day a week, which will serve as the drop-off location for produce. The Hub Team transfers produce from the Hub to FDN for redistribution to food pantries, other local meal programs, and individuals. The 2013 collection will start on July 15, more details coming soon.

In order to launch this pilot project, we need 12 volunteers! Would you like to be involved? Orientations will be held in late June and early July. Please contact FDN for details. Phone: 607-216-9522 Email: info@friendshipdonations.org

More About Friendship Donations Network
Founded in 1988 by Sara Pines, MSW, Ph.D., Friendship Donations Network’s (FDN) mission is to rescue fresh nutritious food from stores and farms that would otherwise be thrown away and redistribute it to neighbors in need. This is accomplished by an extensive network of volunteers.  We serve over 2,100 people weekly by providing food to 30 hunger relief programs, including food pantries, Loaves and Fishes, children’s programs, low wage work sites and rural families in need. Learn more at friendshipdonations.org and facebook.com/FriendshipDonations.

Your donations of fresh produce are essential to FDN’s efforts to alleviate hunger and malnutrition in our community.  Thank you!

Meaghan Sheehan Rosen, Program Coordinator
Friendship Donations Network: Rescuing Food, Reducing Hunger
607.216.9522 | info@friendshipdonations.org | www.friendshipdonations.org

Register Now for Upcoming Groundswell Workshops

Organic Livestock Production Basics Series

July 7: Grass-Fed Sheep Basics (Sun 1-4 PM)
Instructor: Maryrose Livingston, Sheep Farmer

Location: Northland Sheep Dairy, Marathon, NY
July 17: Pastured Poultry Basics 
Instructor: Karma Glos, Poultry Farmer
Location: Kingbird Farm, Berkshire, NY
July 24: Grass-Fed Beef Basics 
Instructor: Brett Chedzoy, Beef Farmer
Location: Angus Glen Farm, Watkins Glen, NY
July 31: Pastured Pigs Basics 
Instructor: Karma Glos, Pig Farmer
Location: Kingbird Farm, Berkshire, NY
Aug 7: TBA 
Cost: $250-$325 for entire series; $45-$60 for individual workshops. Voluntary sliding scale. Pay more if you can and help support our low-income trainees. Scholarships may be available depending on tuition received -- let us know if you need support.
Commercial Organic Vegetable Production Workshops

June 26: Understanding and Managing Weeds 
July 10: Understanding and Managing Pests & Diseases
Aug 14: Sourcing, Conserving and Using Water
Aug 28: Making and Using Compost 5-8 PM
Sep 11, 4-7 PM: Improving Efficiency of Harvest and Labor
Oct 9, 4-7 PM: Record Keeping and Enterprise Analysis
TBA: Hoophouse Building Practicum 
Cost: $350-$425 for entire series$45-$60 for individual classes.  Voluntary sliding scale. Pay more if you can and help support our low-income trainees. Scholarships may be available depending on tuition received -- let us know if you need support.

Advanced Intensives

Our advanced-level "Intensives" are specialized, full-day programs designed for those with previous agricultural production experience.  Conventional and low-input producers interested in learning about certifiable organic production systems are encouraged to attend. Class size is limited and priority will be given to farmers and farm employees with at least one full year of production experience, or who are simultaneously enrolled in the Sustainable Farming Certificate Program. (Certificate Program tuition does not include Intensives - you must register separately.) Others are welcome to apply for these programs and may be accepted if space is available. Once you are accepted into the program, your tuition must be paid in full to reserve your space. Tuition will be refunded only if we are able to fill your space.
Cost: $120-$150 per class (the Poultry Processing Practicum is $60-$80). Voluntary sliding scale. Pay more if you can and help support our low-income trainees. Scholarships may be available depending on tuition received--let us know if you need support.

The Changing Face of Community Supported Agriculture

May 2013
Avi Miner, Cornell Cooperative Extension-Tompkins County
Ithaca, NY
As the movement to eat a more locally sourced diet has grown, food producers have become increasingly creative with direct marketing to reach a larger customer base. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become popular because of its flexibility, risk management benefits, and potential for close relationships with customers.
For Tompkins County the current movement began in 1990, and experienced slow but steady growth for about fifteen years. During that time, vegetable shares were the predominant option, with some meat shares also available. CSAs generally adhere to several traditional principles, although in recent years the model has experienced significant evolution. The basic principles of CSA include:
• Community members agree to purchase a farmer’s harvest in advance of the growing season and a farmer agrees to grow the food necessary to meet that commitment.
• All or most of the cost for a portion, or “share”, of the harvest is paid up front, providing farmers with funds to purchase supplies for the season.
• When the harvest season begins, CSA members receive a share of the harvest each week.
• Opportunities for shareholders to visit the farm informally throughout the season for pickups, u-pick crops, and special events.
Over the past five years, Tompkins County has become an excellent showcase for the benefits and versatility of the CSA model. In 2012 over 3,400 customers in and around Tompkins County were enjoying a wide variety of products from area CSAs. In 2010, the number of shareholders was around 2,200, showing a 55% increase in shares over two years. This increased participation is due only in part to growth in the number and size of traditional vegetable CSAs. Many notable changes have also occurred in how CSAs are run and what products they offer. The annual March CSA Fair sponsored by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County had 15 vendors in 2011 and 30 in 2013.
First and foremost, the range of products available through CSA is wider than just vegetables and meat. New products include a variety of artisan cheeses from throughout the Finger Lakes region, berries, bread, value-added products such as prepared foods, fresh cut flowers, herbal products, fruit, apple cider (fresh and hard), mushrooms, animal fiber, and even art. This explosion in product availability is evidence that more farms are seeing a benefit to engaging customers in a more active and continuous way than just single purchases.
As more farms adopt CSA marketing options, co-marketing and collaboration between farms has given rise to organizations like the Full Plate Farm Collective, a group of several CSAs that customers can sign up for at the same time. This adds convenience for both farms and customers by combining pick-up locations for several CSAs into one location that creates good visibility for all participating farm enterprises and becomes a weekly fun event for shareholders to attend. The Full Plate Farm Collective has further capitalized on this method by aggregating produce from several mixed vegetable and fruit farms into a single, more comprehensive share. Another method of collaboration is for CSAs to partner up in order to offer multiple pickup locations, making shares available to a larger customer base.
In addition to new products, CSAs in Tompkins County have branched out from the basic principles listed above. Several have adopted a pre-paid loyalty discount model in which customers pay a set amount up front and get an additional amount as a bonus. For example, at The Piggery’s farm store the minimum is $100 and customers get an immediate ten percent boost: $100 turns into $110 of store credit issued on a card. Similarly, vegetable CSAs that vend at multiple farmers’ markets benefit from this model because it offers increased flexibility for customers and reduces the farmer’s effort spent tracking which customer has picked up their share or how many shares to pack for a given location. Shareholders who buy a pre-paid card can buy products according to their own needs and schedule.
One drawback to the pre-paid discount loyalty card is that risk is not truly shared between the farmer and the shareholder. A crop failure may cause potential shareholders to hold onto their credit for a long time, delaying their next purchase. This can mean the farm earns less from each shareholder, because the initial investment is much lower than for a traditional CSA.
Wide Awake Bakery has also opted for a different model. Breadshare members reserve a set number of loaves ahead of time and pick them up on a weekly or biweekly basis, skipping weeks when they are on vacation or don’t need bread. Payment and balance tracking of breadshare members is accomplished through third-party software called Farmigo. This system works well for a bakery because of the need to know in advance how many loaves to bake for a given week. Like the store credit pre-paid card method, this sacrifices risk sharing in favor of greater convenience and flexibility for the customer.
New products and models lend themselves to an environment in which CSA enthusiasts can easily sign up for multiple CSAs, covering a large portion of their grocery needs with products such as bread, meat, cheese, and stored winter crops keeping CSAs going year round. A CSA that goes year round will need to do less marketing work to re-recruit last year’s members. In Tompkins County, it is possible to eat local vegetables almost year round, between CSAs that are offering Summer/Fall and Winter shares and the Good Life Farm, the sole farm to fill the Spring CSA niche so far. Beyond Tompkins County, the “full diet” CSA is gaining popularity. This gives shareholders some of everything and often works well with farm cooperatives with a large variety of products.
Modifications and rapid growth in the Community Supported Agriculture model over the past five years have proved its flexibility in creating symbiotic benefits for farmers, customers, and the local food economy in Tompkins County and beyond. Farms are finding that CSA often combines nicely with or even replaces other direct marketing channels such as farm stands and farmers’ markets.
Avi Miner is a Local Food Community Educator in the Agriculture Program at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County.
“Smart Marketing” is a marketing newsletter for extension publication in local newsletters and for placement in local media. It reviews elements critical to successful marketing in the food and agricultural industry. Please cite or acknowledge when using this material. Past articles are available at http://marketingpwt.aem.cornell.edu/publications.html.

Groundswell Trainee Profile: Maria Klemperer-Johnson and Hammerstone Orchard

By Erika Lundahl

The seven acres of land that make up Maria Klemperer-Johnson and Chad Purdy's property doesn’t look like too much now, but in the next few years it will overflow with trellises, deer fencing, a tractor, and rows of Dwarf Apple Trees; everything needed to support a growing orchard. Recent recipient of an FSA microloan and trainee in the 2013 Groundswell Farm Business Planning Class, Maria saw the growing number of artisanal cideries in upstate New York as a great business opportunity.

“The demand for hard cider only seems to be growing, and there are so many local cideries looking for local apples to source. This seemed like the perfect use for the land, and through the Groundswell program we saw it was really possible.” A carpenter and contractor by trade, Maria is part of the growing number of people who turn to farming out of a desire to learn about farming, make the most of their land, as well as generate a second source of income for their families.

“The best possible way of learning is in the service of creating something – and that’s exactly what this project is,” says Maria. With the help of Groundswell’s business planning course, and from the Cornell Orchard manager, Eric Shatt of Red Byrd Cider, Maria says she has ample resources to feel confident in the new business plan.

“The plan is to have our first production year in 2017, after ordering and planting dwarf apples in 2015,” explained Maria. Dwarf apple trees bear fruit after three seasons and grow well in cold winter climates such as Ithaca. The fruit could then be sold wholesale to local cideries to supplement their apple crops. Unlike some apple varieties, the small trees are supported by trellises and grow close together. While this maximizes the crop, it requires more ground preparation than some other planting systems. The main challenges facing Maria and Chad– as with many beginning farmers – lay in how to fund a complex agricultural endeavor where the return on investment takes several years.

Even as an experienced local business owner (Double Dog Timberworks) Maria found banks didn’t want to take on the risk. With the help of Groundswell, the orchard has been able to gain access to funds from the brand new microloan program through the USDA’s Farm Services Agency (FSA). According to USDA, the new program “is aimed at bolstering the progress of producers through their start-up years by providing needed resources and helping to increase equity so that farmers may eventually graduate to commercial credit and expand their operations.”

The microloan program is specifically designed for small agriculture endeavors such as Maria’s, that aren’t covered by conventional loan programs. At first Maria and Chad were turned down by the local FSA office, whose staff were unfamiliar with their cider orchard concept. Groundswell intervened by contacting higher ups in FSA, who worked with local FSA staff to ensure that the application got a closer look. It was soon approved.

Though there’s plenty of time before picking season of 2017, Maria is dreaming big about where she would like to take the orchard. “I would love to support the rich homebrew community in this area with a “You Pick, You Press” business, bringing in cider pressing experts and hosting educational classes. That would be a dream come true for this orchard.”

Erika Lundahl is a volunteer writer for Groundswell. An Ithaca transplant, she graduated in 2012 from Ithaca College with a Writing degree. While in school she worked with our local bookstore cooperative, Buffalo Street Books and has been working at The Piggery for the last year. We're grateful for her help in bringing you stories about our amazing Groundswell trainees. Thank you Erika!

Reskilling Upstate New York

Groundswell Center offers organic farming classes for aspiring farmers and homesteaders

Are we experiencing another “Back to the Land” movement here in upstate New York? The folks at the Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming think so.  People of all ages, colors, and backgrounds are getting serious about growing food. Groundswell is offering a whole season of workshops and classes for these beginning farmers and homesteaders.  

“We’re part of a growing movement that some people call reskilling,” says Joanna Green, Director of Groundswell.  “Reskilling is all about helping people and communities become more self-reliant in providing basics like food and fiber.” Groundswell is especially focused on engaging people of color, immigrants, refugees, and those with limited financial resources in this movement.

"We're building a multi-cultural support network for beginning farmers, market gardeners, homesteaders, and other entrepreneurs in the food system," says Green. "We need to create resilient, regional systems that meet everyone's need for good food and economic opportunity."

Groundswell courses are taught by experienced local farmers, and provide hands-on training in organic food production.  Although the workshops focus on what it takes to be successful on a small-scale commercial basis, the same skills and knowledge also apply to the non-commercial “homestead” farm. Groundswell has openings in the following upcoming classes:

Ecological Farm Design
Ecological Farm Design is taught in two sessions by Melissa Madden and Garrett Miller of the Good Life Farm in Interlaken, NY.  The course provides a framework for "reading the land" and making good decisions about land use that balance the needs of human people and all the other people.
“This course is designed to help you think about how to develop a piece of land as a productive resource while respecting natural systems and wildlife,” says Green.  “We talk about how to understand and work with topography, water flow, soil types, biodiversity, and microclimate. Where to put buildings, fences, driveways, ponds, and other infrastructure. It’s really helpful for folks who have land that they want to use wisely, as well as for those looking for a piece of land.”

Ecological Farm Design runs 5-8 PM Wednesdays, May 29 and June 5. The cost is $90 for both sessions.To register call 607-319-5095 or send email to:info@groundswellcenter.org. 

Understanding and Managing Soils
Groundswell’s two-part Soils class provides a foundational understanding of the physical, chemical and biological properties of soil, and strategies for managing soils for maximum biological activity. Taught by Barb Neal, Certified Arborist, Green Legacy Tree Consultants and Paul Martin, Farmer, Sweet Land Farm, the course combines class-room training with hands-on training at the Groundswell Incubator Farm. 
The Soils course includes 2 sessions, 5-8 PM Wednesdays June 12 and 19The cost is $90 for both sessions.  To register call 607-319-5095 or send email to:info@groundswellcenter.org 

And much more
Other upcoming workshops include a whole series on Organic Vegetable Production, Grazing Basics, Grass-Fed Sheep, Pastured Poultry Basics, Grass-Fed Beef, Pastured Pigs. Tuition assistance is available for those with limited resources. For more information visit www.groundswellcenter.org or call 607-319-5095, or send an email toinfo@groundswellcenter.org.