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.

Monday, April 21

Thank You Hoophouse Builders!

Volunteers and staff fasten the plastic on our brand new
20' x 72' hoophouse at the Groundswell Incubator Farm.
Photo by Jim Bosjolie.
We want to shout out a huge THANK YOU to the generous volunteers who have helped Groundswell install our new hoophouse at the Incubator Farm. 

Sara Koste, Rafael Aponte, Ann Piombino, Aidan Hodges, and Elan Shapiro have shown up to work in all sorts of Spring weather to put together this big puzzle. They have laid down ground cover, put up the walls, carried the hoops, built the end walls, attached wiggle wire, and bolted everything together.

We really appreciate the hours that each of them took to work with us and get the project completed in short time. All that is left to do is put the plastic on the roof and get the BCS tractor out to prepare the beds! 

The 72’ long hoophouse at the Incubator Farm was manufactured locally by the Howard Hoover Family Farm in Penn Yan. Hoover's tubular steel structures have become fairly popular due to the ease of installation and mobility. 

Our hoophouse will enable Incubator farmers to extend the growing season into spring and fall, and to grow heat loving summer crops more intensively. Damon Brangman of Roots Rising Farm plans to experiment with some specialty crops from the Caribbean.

If you're interested in volunteering on other projects at the Incubator Farm or working with the Farmers, please let us know at (607)319-5095 or info@groundswellcenter.org.

Sunday, April 20

What Works? Farmer-Led Education

Groundswell's popular Organic Orchards class met in
February at Black Diamond Farm in Trumansburg
to study pruning techniques with master
orchardist Ian Merwin.
By Joanna Green

I love it when a group of really wonderful people put their heads together to make something happen. I love it when a really great idea turns into reality. And I especially love it when it turns out to be a lot of fun!

That's what's happening with Groundswell's new season-long course in Holistic Organic Orchard Management.

Last year a group of small-scale commercial orchardists came to Groundswell and proposed a new program to meet the needs of the emerging organic tree fruits industry. It's hard to grow quality fruit organically, and  here in the Ithaca area there's a tremendous amount of innovation going on in local orchards. Growers  wanted an opportunity to share their knowledge, compare notes, and educate their employees about effective organic management strategies.

I loved the idea. As a home orchardist I'd had a hard time figuring out how to grow a nice crop of apples. And from our previous courses, I knew there were lots of people like me - serious home orchardists who would love to learn from The Masters.

So we cooked up the idea of a monthly program which would focus on a different aspect of production  throughout the entire season. We had nine experienced growers eager to be involved as instructors. But we had no idea how many people would sign up. How much would they be willing to pay for this extraordinary education? Could we bring in enough revenues to pay instructors? Groundswell?

We decided to take a chance together and try it out. Groundswell agreed to manage the course enrollments, marketing, and administration, without compensation if necessary.  The growers agreed to teach without compensation if necessary. We figured out a sliding scale for tuition that seemed reasonable, and began putting the word out...