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.

Sunday, August 17

Groundswell's Incubator Farm welcomes New Americans

AP reporter Mary Esch interviews
Ye Myint, originally from Burma
We're fortunate to have people from all over the world living right here in Tompkins County. Many come here to teach or to study. But for others, leaving their home country was a matter of survival, not choice.

Thankfully, there are organizations, teachers, sponsors, and church-based groups who are helping to connect refugees and other New Americans with the things they need to create a new life here in Tompkins County.

Many New Americans bring a huge amount of farming experience from their home countries. The community gardens in Ithaca have long provided an opportunity to grow food, including favorite items from their home cuisine that aren't available in local stores. And now the Groundswell Incubator Farm offers New Americans the opportunity to grow even more food for their families, their communities, and the marketplace.

ESL students admiring Ye's gongura and water spinach crops at the Farm.

To get the word out about the Incubator Farm, we've been working with English as a Second Language programs at TST BOCES and Tompkins Learning Partners. We've made several visits to ESL classes, and last week about 25 students from the TST-BOCES ESL program took a field trip to learn about the Groundswell Incubator Farm.

Even on such a gray and rainy day, the students were smiling and excited to see the Incubator Farm, and they were filled with questions about how the Farm works. 
We are so grateful for the enthusiasm of all the students and teachers, and very hopeful that some may be interested and able to farm with Groundswell in the 2015 season. In any case, they will be spreading the word in their communities.

For more information about the Groundswell Incubator Farm and how you can support our work with New American farmers, please contact us at newamericans@groundswellcenter.org

2015 Applications now open for the Groundswell Incubator Farm

Mo Myint trellises cucumbers on his father's plot at the Incubator Farm.
We're now accepting applications for the 2015 season at the Groundswell Incubator Farm, located in the Town of Ithaca, at EcoVillage. The mission of the Incubator Program is to provide access to land, infrastructure, and short-term enterprise incubation for diverse beginning farmers. 

If you or someone you know is interested in applying to Incubator Program, please contact Groundswell Staff as early as possible to get the conversation started. Our Incubator Coordinator, Devon Van Noble, can be reached at devon@groundswellcenter.org or (607)319-5095.

To be considered for early-decisions, application materials are due by November 21st, however applications will continue to be accepted until February 1st, 2015.

At the Farm, you can rent a quarter-acre plot that comes equipped with drip irrigation, tools and equipment including a walk-behind tractor, storage shed, 8-foot deer fence, and a hoophouse. Incubator Farmers also receive one-on-one mentoring from experienced farmers, and participate in a variety of training workshops, Groundswell’s Farm Business Planning Course, and the Finger Lakes CRAFT network.

To learn more about what to expect from the Incubator Program and to download the application materials, CLICK HERE.

Finger Lakes CRAFT Farm Profile: Main Street Farms

Farmers: Allan Gandelman and Bob Cat
Address: 116 North West Street, Homer, NY
Phone: (607) 218-2101
E-mail: info@mainstreetfarms.com

Website: www.mainstreetfarms.com

Allan is a former high school teacher whose passion for food and agriculture led him to end his career as a teacher and start Main Street Farms. He holds two degrees from SUNY New Paltz; a B.A. in Anthrolopoly and an M.A. in Secondary Education. He also holds a certificate in Sustainable Agriculture from Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming.

Before coming to work at Main Street Farms, Bob Cat spent 5 years as an Outdoor Educator working for Natures Classroom all over New England.  He holds a B.A. in Communication from SUNY New Paltz and has a cetrificate in Sustainable Agriculture from Groundswell Center For Local Food and Farming in Ithaca.  Bob Cat has also spent time WWOOFing in Australia and Costa Rica.

Main Street Farms is an urban aquaponics farm, organic plant nursery, and education center, located in Homer, NY. We are dedicated to sustainable agriculture and local food security. We grow in both water and dirt, utilizing aquaponics techniques (aquaculture plus hydroponics) to raise tilapia in tanks. We feed them and use the waste water to fertilize the plants (lettuce and herbs). The plants in turn clean the water for the fish in a closed loop cycle, creating a symbiotic relationship. We have a wide assortment of sheds and barns to house sheep, horses, hay, and equipment. They are all simple pole barns. 

In 2013 we acquired an amazing 1.5 acre empty city lot in a low income neighborhood in Cortland, which we have converted into the city's first urban farm.  The farm is located on South Ave., and is a pickup location for CSA shares in the 2014 season.

When it comes to agriculture risks and challenges are abundant. During our first farm start up we made our share of mistakes around pest management, allocation of time and resources, and choosing which vegetables to grow. Now that we have learned how to deal with these difficulties we hope we won't make those mistakes again.