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.

Wednesday, May 14

Volunteer spotlight: Dean Koyanagi

Dean Koyanagi showing young ones the way.

We give thanks for Dean

Dean has an incredible career background: Navy Veteran, Sustainability Coordinator for Cornell, Co-farmer at Tree Gate Farm, and Groundswell Mentor Farmer, now working closely with our Incubator Farmers. Dean has been involved in Groundswell since our beginnings, and quickly grew to be a major part of our organization, helping organize our first ever Mentor Farmer Training in 2011.

We see Dean as a brilliant and dedicated farmer who is especially excited about innovation and novel, efficient farm systems. We remember the enthusiasm he exuded when he came to share several nifty tools (including an electric tractor model!) at the FarmHack Ithaca event in Fall of 2012, an event he was also deeply involved in at the planning level!

Dean has been mentoring our Incubator Farmers since the inaugural year of the program in 2013, and has been an active voice in shaping the 2014 season.  Dean's input and advice about the timing of workshops, mentoring sessions, and topics has helped Groundswell develop a timeline that fits with the rhythms of the farming season. Mentoring a new business owner and food producer can be a VERY tricky task, and but Dean's understanding of the learning process and his patience has made him an invaluable Mentor Farmer.

As Groundswell staff, we feel blessed to be able to work with a Mentor Farmer who has such a commitment to others' education that he takes the time to be critical of the techniques that are not working, and suggest improved methods.  The efficacy of the Groundswell Incubator Program has been tremendously improved by his voice.

Devon Van Noble, Incubator Development Coordinator, and Groundswell staff

Monday, May 12

Focus on Food Sovereignty

At one of our Groundswell Development meetings last month, the question came up: "What is Food Sovereignty?" We'd like to share with you the 6 food sovereignty principles which were drafted in 2007 at the International Forum for Food Sovereignty in Mali.

Food sovereignty...

1. Focuses on Food for People: Food sovereignty stresses the right to sufficient, healthy and culturally appropriate food for all individuals, peoples and communities, including those who are hungry or living under occupation, in conflict zones and marginalized. Food sovereignty rejects the proposition that food is just another commodity for international agribusiness.

2. Values Food Providers: Food sovereignty values and supports the contributions, and respects the rights, of women and men, peasants and small scale family farmers, pastoralists, artisanal fishers, forest dwellers, indigenous peoples and agricultural and fisheries workers, including migrants, who cultivate, grow, harvest and process food; and rejects those policies, actions and programs that undervalue them, threaten their livelihoods and eliminate them.

3. Localizes Food Systems: Food sovereignty brings food providers and consumers together in common cause; puts providers and consumers at the center of decision-
making on food issues; protects food providers from the dumping of food and food aid in local markets; protects consumers from poor quality and unhealthy food, inappropriate food aid and food tainted with genetically modified organisms; and resists governance structures, agreements and practices that depend on and promote unsustainable and inequitable international trade and give power to remote and unaccountable corporations.

4. Makes Decisions Locally: Food sovereignty seeks control over and access to territory, land, grazing, water, seeds, livestock and fish populations for local food providers. These resources ought to be used and shared in socially and environmentally sustainable ways which conserve diversity. Food sovereignty recognizes that local territories often cross geopolitical borders and advances the right of local communities to inhabit and use their territories; it promotes positive interaction between food providers in different regions and territories and from different sectors to resolve internal conflicts or conflicts with local and national authorities; and rejects the privatization of natural resources through laws, commercial contracts and intellectual property rights regimes.