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.

Tuesday, May 21

Tune In to the Local Food & Farming Radio Hour!

Fridays 7-8 AM on WRFI
88.1 Ithaca, 91.9 Watkins Glen

by Sharon Clarke

For the past two months Groundswell staff and program participants have been my guests on the Friday Morning Show, a one-hour program which I produce and host. The show is exclusively about local food and farming, which makes it a perfect venue to spread the word about the work and the people of Groundswell.

Most recently, I interviewed Silas Conroy, co-owner of Crooked Carrot Community Supported Kitchen www.crookedcarrotcsk.com and Devon Van Noble, farmer/owner of Van Noble Farm www.facebook.com/vannoblefarm.  Devon is also Groundswell's Incubator Farm Coordinator.  Silas was a participant in the first year of the Farm Business course and through it was able to gain valuable information which was immediately applied to the development of Crooked Carrot.  This session one of his business partners is also taking the business course!

Both Devon and Silas are first season farmers as well. This is the first year the Crooked Carrot team are growing their own vegetable crops. And for Devon, this is his first season raising his own hogs. The two admitted that previous experience working on farms certainly helped them get to where they are, but they also benefited from luck and the generosity of more experienced farmers in our community. For Devon, it has been support and experienced gained working with The Piggery Farm owned by Brad and Heather Marshall; while Silas has gotten significant encouragement and support from his relationship with Chaw Chang and Lucy Garrison-Clauson, of Stick and Stone Farm.

Tune in any Friday to find out more about what's happening in local food and farming!

Crooked Carrot "CSK" Celebrates its First Season on the Farm

By Erika Lundahl

Since 2011, Crooked Carrot Community Supported Kitchen has sought to provide healthy, locally sourced meals to the larger Finger Lakes community - and this season brings a big change.

Early morning on Crooked Carrot Farm, out past rows of apple trees and a small creek, plots of onions are just beginning to sprout. “Garlic, hot peppers, cabbage, parsley, herbs – we’re really so excited for the farm’s first season,” says Jenny Caldwell, one of the farm’s founders. Alongside her is Silas Conroy, one of the founders of the Crooked Carrot Kitchen in 2011.

The farm, located on two acres of land between the Cayuga Lake Watershed and the Chesapeake Watershed, began as Hemlock Grove Farm by Jenny’s parents. Jenny, who has been farming on various Upstate New York farms since she was in high school, is giving the farm a second life.

Now it serves to support the Crooked Carrot Community Supported Kitchen in their CSK (similar to a CSA) “shares.” Each share contains a variety of pre-prepared dips, broths, beans, and vegetable dishes with ingredients sourced from the Crooked Carrot Farm as well as several other local farms.

Groundswell has played a crucial role supporting the development of the two businesses – the kitchen and the farm. Silas, an Ithaca transplant from Central Pennsylvania, took the Groundswell farm business planning class for the kitchen in 2012, and Jenny took the same class in 2013 for the farm. They have been working together to refine the interdependent relationship between the two businesses.

“The Groundswell class really helped us develop our budgetary goals and create a comparison enterprise budget to see the costs vs. income viability of each of our ventures individually,” says Silas. He has been working with the kitchen for three years and sees the farm as a way to further their personal values of sustainable agriculture and sustainable living.

“In farming you get to see so clearly how interconnected ecological systems are, and how your decisions effect your immediate environment. This lifestyle is sort of a bridge between personal and environmental health,” says Silas.  Together he and Jenny presented their unique business plan and budget at the Northeast Organic Farming (NOFA) conference. Is was essential, Jenny explained, to put the goals and values of the organization first and foremost when considering every monetary decision the farm makes. “You have to ask yourself how you want your life to be, and then try to reflect that in what you do, and how you farm.”

In these early stages of the formation of the farm, Crooked Carrot is constantly making major decisions about the direction of the farm, a process that Groundswell has assisted with from the beginning. “Taking the business planning class definitely helped us see what kind of growth was realistic, and how we can best focus our energies,” said Jenny.

So, other than the Facebook advertised blackened garlic and pinto bean salad rumored to be in the fourth CSK share of the season, what else is on the menu for Crooked Carrot in the future? Growth, hopefully. The two acres of land won’t support the budding farm for long. “This is a tiny operation right now in comparison to most farms. It’s great because the kitchen provides an immediate venue for everything the farm produces- but we hope to expand within the next couple years,” says Silas.

It’s clear that Crooked Carrot has exciting times ahead of them in the years to come, as they continue to make a name for themselves in the Ithaca local food and farming community.

Find out what’s cooking at the Crooked Carrot on Facebook or at www.crookedcarrotcsk.com

_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!_

From the Director

Just a couple Saturdays ago, I had the huge pleasure of hanging out with some of the area's most amazing farmers, foodies, visionaries, activists and dreamers.... and LOTS of energetic kids... at the second annual Asparaganza Festival at the Good Life Farm in Interlaken. What an inspiring community! These folks are passionate about re-learning skills, re-building farms and food businesses, and re-weaving the fabric of personal relationships that make up a strong community and local economy. They're creating the social and economic infrastructure that we're going to need so very badly in the coming years of climate change and all its attendant ecological, social, and institutional disruptions. 

What took me by surprise was just how many people I ran into at this gathering who were Groundswell alums and instructors! There were literally dozens of them - 20-somethings and 70-somethings and everything in between - who had participated in one or more of our training programs. I knew from our records that we have engaged 290 trainees so far in our programs. But here, at Asparaganza, was concrete evidence of the huge impact that Groundswell has had in four short years. 

Will you join us?
We invite you to be part of this exciting movement! This month we are launching a new Groundswell Membership Campaign  to help raise funds to support our new farmer training programs. Your contribution of $25 or more will help us provide training and business incubation support to aspiring farmers, with programs like our Sustainable Farming Certificate Program, Farm Business Planning Course, Finger Lakes CRAFT, Farm Mentor Training, and the new Groundswell Incubator Farm. As a Groundswell member you'll get program discounts, a cool sticker, and invitations to member-only events like our new Homestead Farmers and Gardeners Gatherings for those of you want to be involved in rebuilding the food system in your own backyard.

Become a Groundswell Member Today!

Click HERE to find out about member benefits and make a secure online donation. As always, thank you for your support of a strong local food system!

Joanna Green

Calling all Homesteaders!

Groundswell Members are invited to the June 16 Homestead Farmers and Gardeners Gathering.

Not sure if you’re a farmer or a gardener? Serious about growing things, but not for sale? Eager to learn from other serious homestead-scale producers? Then join Groundswell as a member and receive invitations to our monthly gatherings of homestead farmers and gardeners. Our first awesome gathering was May 19 at the Lansing homestead of Philip Snyder and Pat Dell. Philip is an amazing gardener with decades of experience, and every one of us learned something new about intensive, year round gardening, extending the season, and establishing an organic orchard.

The June Homestead Farmers and Gardeners Gathering will be on Fathers Day, Sunday, June 16, from 3:30 - 5:30 PM. We'll tour Steve Austin's homestead in suburban Ithaca. The event is free for Groundswell members, but you must register in advance and space is limited to the first 20 registrants. Sorry but we cannot accept walk-ins.