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, September 22

Forget-Me-Not Farm will host October Homesteaders gathering

PrintE-mailSunday, October 12, 3:30-5:30 PM, Candor, NY

Don't miss our last Homestead Farmers & Gardeners Gathering of the 2014 season. Homesteaders Gatherings are free for registered Groundswell Members. Email info@groundswellcenter.org to sign up.

Jennifer and Dean Whitmore have built their lives and their Candor homestead farm around family. They're a home schooling family with nine children, several adopted. The kids are very involved in 4-H, and raise a variety of livestock.

The Whitmores raises much of their own food, and also supply the bed and breakfast on the farm. They raise 2 heritage sheep breeds, Jacob and Hog Island. They sell yarn, fiber, lambskins, ramps, onions, lettuce, greens, summer squash, tomatoes, winter squash varieties, garlic and sunflowers at the Caroline Farmers Market. Along with the farm, the family also runs Small Graces B&B, a green built, private Bed and Breakfast cottage, in a woods setting. They gather wood and do the plowing with a Morgan horse and a team of Haflingers. 
They love having the flexibility that a home-based business provides.  It allows Jenn to be a full time mom, and the children are involved in all aspects of the homestead.  As described in their online listing with Natural Choice Vacations: "The farm is home to Jacob and Jacob/cross sheep, a guard donkey named Whiskey, four horses and a pony, organically raised poultry and pigs. They raise several rare and heritage breeds of poultry. Lambs and organic pork is available in the fall.  Jenn is a fiber artist, and her six children are in training!  They spin, knit and felt using their own wool and other various fibers as well.  Their oldest daughter, Blessing, also designed an earache pillow using wool with a little lanolin stuffed inside. This pillow soothes ear infections and is a best seller at the farm shop and at festivals."

Jennifer says, "On October 12 we can see and discuss the B&B that we built. It's a good source of income for a homestead. Also the greenhouse, the types of animals we chose to raise to complement a homestead and the balance that we strive for there. The gardens will be done for the year, but we can brush on how they have changed and developed also."

Friday, September 19

Finger Lakes CRAFT: Inspiring Beginning AND experienced Farmers

Members of the Finger Lakes CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training) gathered September 15, 2014 at the Good Life Farm in Interlaken to tour this amazing and diverse farm operation. Owners Melissa Madden and Garrett Miller are serious innovators, dedicated to "farming on an energy descent curve." 

They're developing systems of "perennial plant and animal polyculture," interweaving perennial crops (fruit trees, asparagus), high-value annual crops (ginger, turmeric, vegetables, winter greens) and lush pasture, intensively grazed by diverse livestock. The farm is a complex, integrated biological system, designed to mimick the super-productive ecosystems of the forest edge.

"Our neighbors were appalled to see us planting trees on this good corn ground," she laughs. In 6 short years since purchasing the land, they've transformed it from a pure monoculture of corn to an incredibly diverse, multi-storied landscape.

Good Life Farm's latest adventure is construction of a spanking new cidery building, with state-of-the-art cider brewing equipment and gigantic walk-in cooler on the basement floor, and a generous retail space on the main floor. In keeping with Good Life Farm's commitment to creative marketing partnerships with other farmers, they will share the facility with four other orchardists/cider makers in the area.

CRAFT membership is open to all farm interns, employees, aspiring and experienced farmers. The CRAFT meets monthly throughout the growing season at each of 6 Mentor Farms. To join click HERE.

Finger Lakes Craft Cider Week features Groundswell participants

Groundswell graduates, instructors and Mentor Farmers feature heavily in the emerging craft cider industry in our region. Banding together as the Finger Lakes Cider Alliance, these orchardists are the impetus behind Finger Lakes Craft Cider Week, which will run from October 3rd through October 12th. The event bringing together the widest variety of local ciders from the Finger Lakes. We will be more than doubling the number of available ciders this year.Participating Groundswell grads, instructors and Mentors include Red Byrd Cidery (Burdett), Eve’s Cidery (Van Etten), Black Diamond Farm (Trumansburg) and Good Life Farm (Interlaken.)

Anchored by the Ithaca Apple Harvest Festival (October 3-5), Craft Cider Week offers a variety of events such as tastings, cider dinners with local chefs, a local orchard tour, and a cider-flavored square dance. Visitors and locals alike will the opportunity to try local cider by the glass or presented in cider flights, pairings with hand-selected entrĂ©es, and cider cocktails at a number of local venues throughout Ithaca and the Finger Lakes region.  There is no other event in the area showcasing the diversity of craft cider.

This week of activities is patterned after the wildly popular New York City Cider Week, presenting its annual celebration later in October. Colonial America’s favorite beverage is making a comeback and the Finger Lakes region is leading the way with world-class cider made from locally grown apples.  Besides trying and enjoying local hard cider, folks can also discover the culinary delights of cider pairings, traditional and modern mixes, and the people behind the region’s beautiful orchards.

This year, organizers have substantially increased the number of participating cideries and locations.  Try more varieties of local hard cider in more locations throughout Ithaca and the surrounding areas!
Other participating cideries include:
  • Bellwether Hard Cider (Trumansburg)
  • Black Bird Cider Works (Barker)
  • Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards (Hector)
  • South Hill Cider (Ithaca)
  • Beak & Skiff (LaFayette)
  • Three Brothers (Geneva)
  • Harvest Moon Cidery (Cazenovia)
  • Steampunk (Medina)
For more information check out the website: www.ciderweekflx.com

Hammerstone School teaches Carpentry for Farmsteaders

Groundswell grad Maria Klemperer-Johnson is now a full-fledged beginning farmer, running Hammerstone Orchards with her partner Chad Purdy.  As part of the burgeoning cider revival, they grow exclusively traditional cider varieties of apples for wholesale to local craft cideries, and for you-pick to home cider-makers.

Through the orchard's sister business, Hammerstone School, Maria also teaches carpentry skills to women and to farmstead operators.  On October 12th and 13th Hammerstone is partnering with local cider makers Redbyrd Orchard Cider (also a Groundswell grad!) to present a two-day class in both woodworking and cider making.

New York state has a rich tradition of cidermaking, both hard and sweet. Unfortunately, recent changes in food safety laws requiring expensive pasteurization of cider have put some local custom presses out of business. Now the easiest way to get un-pasteurized cider, either sweet or to make hard cider, is to press your own. Join veteran carpenter and carpentry teacher Maria Klemperer-Johnson and master cidermaker Eric Shatt to build your own rack and cloth press, learn about the history and techniques of cidermaking, and press your first batch of cider on your brand new press.

 On the first day of class, Maria will guide participants through the assembly of cider presses. Frames are pre-cut and drilled for fasteners, but must be assembled. Racks must be nailed together, and the trays must be assembled. In order to have a functioning press by the following class, any remaining work should be done by participants before the second class. 

On the second day of class, Eric Shatt and Deva Maas of Redbyrd Orchard Cider will teach us all about the history of cider, growing apples, making cider, and different apple varieties. Then we will put our presses to the test, each grinding and pressing enough apples to fill a 5-gallon carboy. At the end of the day, you may optionally join us for a tour of the Redbyrd orchard and pressing facility in Hector (about a 15 minute drive away.) 

Students take home a fully functional cider press, as well as 5 gallons of cider ready to ferment.This popular class is the final event of the Finger Lakes Cider Week. More information can be found at www.hammerstoneschool.com or by calling 607-351-6878.

Topics Covered:
  • Tool use and safety
  • Basic carpentry skills
  • Assembly of presses
  • History of cider production in NY
  • Traditional cider apple varieties (with tasting)
  • Growing apples
  • Pressing cider
  • Fermentation basics

Join Groundswell at the Food Justice Fair!

Food Justice Fair AND Latinos Multicultural Festival!
Saturday, September 27, 12-4pm 

BJM Elementary School

302 West Buffalo Street, Ithaca

Please join Groundswell, GreenStar Community Projects, and a host of community leaders at the 2014 Food Justice Fair! The Fair is a fun and educational gathering for the whole family, celebrating the efforts of this community to build a more sustainable and just local food system. This year the Fair is combined with the Latinos Multicultural Festival for even more fun!

Enjoy LOTS of family activities including an Anarchy Zone run by the Ithaca Children’s Garden in the BJM playground, games and contests with fruit and vegetable prizes, chicken petting, youth cooking demo and free food - delicious seasoned roasted veggies!  Hear from local speakers - including Groundswell's Director, Joanna Green - talking about the great work going on in this community. The  Latinos Multicultural Festival will offer live music, a DJ contest, children’s craft area and food vendors.

GreenStar Community Projects defines Food Justice as... 
  • Elimination of disparities in healthy food access and nutrition education
  • Transformation of our food system, leading to comprehensive local healthy food distribution
  • Support for allied movements for social justice and environmental stewardship.

Mark your calendars and join us for this great community event. Get some family fun while supporting the growing movement to take local control of the food we eat, how it is grown and processed, and who has access to it. You can find more information about the Food Justice Fair on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FoodJusticeSummitNY.