August 2012 NewsletterGROUNDSWELL LOCAL FOOD & FARM FESTIVAL Sunday October 21 12-4 pm Groundswell Incubator Farm, Rachel Carson Way, Ithaca Help


August 2012 Newsletter



Photo by Liz Karabinakis

Sunday October 21
12-4 pm
Groundswell Incubator Farm, Rachel Carson Way, Ithaca
Help us raise funds to finish building the Incubator Farm!


Suggested donation (please give more if you can!)
Adults: $10
Children (under 12): $5
Family: $15
Note: Use the blank check box to fill in the amount you wish to donate!


Enjoy fun FARMING ACTIVITIES for kids of all ages! Card some wool, build a hoop house, dig a soil sample, churn some butter, build a fence, or milk a goat!
Enjoy ETHNIC FOODS from all around the world featuring local farm products!
Chat with Groundswell’s Farmer-Instructors and Beginning Farmers at our LOCAL FOODS MINI-MARKET!
See the newest in FARMING INVENTIONS and learn how to build your own!
Take a HAY RIDE TOUR of Groundswell’s Incubator Farm, West Haven Farm and other EcoVillage highlights!

VOLUNTEER with us!

Volunteers are needed for:
Volunteers get FREE ADMISSION to the festival.
To volunteer with us, email or call us at (607) 319-5095.

VENDORS: Sell your wares at the festival!

We're still accepting vendors! Send your completed Vendor Registration Form to, or by mail to PO Box 6679.




Thor Oechsner demonstrates his seed cleaning machine at his farm in Newfield, NY.

Attention Farmers, Engineers, Designers and Inventors!

An event for farm tinkerers of all types!

EXPLORE unique farm innovations at FARM HACK - Ithaca, at the Groundswell Incubator Farm
COLLABORATE with others to create new farm inventions in intensive Design Charettes
CONSTRUCT key infrastructure for the Groundswell Incubator during Demo-Build Sessions
NETWORK with other farmers and designers in your region
SHARE your own creative designs, inventions, and ideas



Farm Hack is a community for those who embrace the long-standing farm traditions of tinkering, inventing, fabricating, tweaking, and improving things that break. We are farmers of all ages, but the project has special relevance to young and beginning farmers as a place to learn from their peers' and their elders' successes, mistakes and new ideas.

We also seek to bring our non-farmer allies on board: engineers, architects, designers, and the like. Together, with an open-source ethic, we can retool our farms for a sustainable future.

Learn more about Farm Hack...

GET INVOLVED: Register by clicking here or send an email to


Instructor Profile: Keierra and Mario Callaway


Keierra and Mario were Groundswell trainees in 2011's New Farmer Training Program, and returned in 2012 to teach our "Community Ecology: Understanding your Social Context" for our Sustainable Farming Certificate Program.

Keierra and Mario Callaway both grew up in rural Georgia, surrounded by farms and/or gardens, and both have a family history of farming. Keierra, now 26, remembers taking trips to the farmer’s market with her grandmother. Her aunt still has a farm in Georgia where she grows collard greens, turnips, squash, and tomatoes.

But the Callaways left their rural roots behind to become urban agriculturists. In 2010 they launched the Kwanzaa Village Garden, a vibrant community garden located on the Southwest side of Syracuse. Their brainchild Urban Verde, an environmentally and socially conscious company, offers gardening products designed to make growing accessible to everyone. The next year, seeking to broaden and deepen their knowledge of agricultural practices, they enrolled in Groundswell's New Farmer Training Program and regularly made the hour-plus commute down to our training sessions. Through Groundswell, the Callaways met many like minded people, aspiring farmers with diverse backgrounds who were able to learn from each other. They also kept in touch with some instructors well after the program ended. Groundswell’s Community Liaison, Katrina Baxter, aided them in the community development aspect of their mission.

Since participating in Groundswell's program, Keierra and Mario have moved from Syracuse to Brooklyn, where they are pursuing their life-long mission to bring sustainability and healthy food to those areas where it is lacking. Mario is working at Brooklyn Grange Urban Rooftop Farms, and both are working with a community garden in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, helping with organizational development and getting the community involved.

We wish Mario and Keierra great success in their urban agriculture ventures!

Register for Groundswell's New Farmer Classes!


Shelley, a Groundswell trainee, learns to log with horses at Northland Sheep Dairy.

Join Groundswell's Sustainable Farming Certificate Program trainees for the the following classes, open to the public:

Introduction to Aquaponics
Wed, August 22, 5pm – 8pm
Main Street Farms, Homer, NY

Perennial Plant Propagation
Wednesday, August 29, 5pm – 8pm
Where: Daring Drake Farm, Interlaken, NY

Organic Orchard Management Basics
Wed, September 19, 5pm – 8pm
Where: West Haven Farm, Ithaca, NY

Intro to Mushroom Cultivation
Wednesday, September 26, 5pm - 8pm
Where: Blue Oyster Cultivation, Dryden, NY

See the full list of classes here. You must register in advance -- send us an email at Cost is $25 per class.

Support Local Food Justice - Join the Walkathon!

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On the morning of Saturday September 22nd, we'll be taking to the streets for the 2nd Annual Food Justice Summit & Walkathon with hundreds of other walkers to help grow support for an equitable and sustainable food system for our community. Groundswell is asking all our friends and supporters to please show your support for this important community effort by making a pledge HERE.

For EVEN MORE FUN you can join Team Groundswell! Sign up as a Walker for the Groundswell Walkathon Team and help us raise funds through your own network of contacts. Students, farmers, gardeners, families with children -- all are welcome to be part of the Groundswell team ! Just Click here to join our team or to make a pledge of support. Or send us an email at

Volunteer Spotlight: Stephanie Chan

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Stephanie Chan tending her new garden in Brooklyn.

Stephanie was a Groundswell trainee in 2011's New Farmer Training Program. In 2011 and 2012, she served as Groundswell's Program Evaluation Assistant. We'd like to thank her for her volunteer service!

Growing up in Oceanside, NY, Stephanie Chan and her family had a small plot of land on which they raised Chinese vegetables organically. This love for growing things eventually brought her to Cornell University in 2009 as a graduate student analyzing the economics and profitability of four different cropping systems for organic vegetable production. But she didn’t lose sight of the possibility of farming on a small scale, growing and marketing the delicious Asian vegetables which she had trouble finding locally. So in 2011 she enrolled in Groundswell’s first cohort of trainees in our New Farmer Training Program.

In August of 2011 Stephanie also began working with Groundswell as a volunteer Program Evaluation Assistant. Since then she’s spent hours and hours compiling and analyzing evaluation data from our Summer Practicum and Farm Business Planning Course, and assessing their impacts on students and trainees. Stephanie’s super analytic skills and her training in business and economics have been a great resource for Groundswell. Stephanie has worked with us almost a full year, but is moving on to Brooklyn, New York where she is seeking a position in non-profit research and developing her skills in urban farming.

Thank you, Stephanie, for your important contributions to Groundswell. We wish you all the best in your new ventures!

The Quintessential Black Farmer: Sista Sophia and Lady Buggs Farm

sophia buggs

Sista Sophia and Lady Buggs Farm, a farm and spiritual center.

by Kirtrina Baxter

When this interview started out it was not your conventional conversation. Sophia Buggs is a magikal woman with a beautiful spiritual nature, thus this article will be quite different as hers is a story of healing and ancestral callings. Sista Sophia, as I lovingly call her, is a spiritual advisor as well as a gardener and apprentice farmer. She has her own business, Healing Flower, a spirituality and herbal consultant company. It is this business that she plans to transition into a sustainable farm and spiritual center called “Lady Buggs Farm” on the land that she owns.

Sista Sophia’s story starts off when she inherited the house her grandmother lived in and where she grew up. She lovingly remembers her grandmother’s garden and her locally famous zucchini bread. When moving back into the house after her grandmother’s transition, she was looking for this recipe along with other hand-written recipes her grandmother has saved. It was then that she became determined to restore the garden and make it even bigger, in her grandmother’s memory.

Though she knew that she wanted to grow food, she didn’t have much experience in gardening, so she reached out to some neighborhood community garden groups. Along her introductions into garden society, she met two women who shared her grandmother’s and mother’s names and birthday’s though in reverse. It was this sign that led Sista Sophia to know she was on the right path. Believing in ancestral guidance and the infinite power of the universe, Sista Sophia went about a long journey of familiarizing herself with the tools and skills she needed to create her dream of Lady Buggs Farm.


Eating Out? Dine Local!


In August Get Your GreenBack Tompkins continues to focus on local food. Check out the website for 13 ways to Eat Local and Save. Register in August to be included in a raffle with local food prizes from GreenStar, Manndible Cafe, the Mate Factor, and Rogue’s Harbor Inn!

Eating Out?

Get Your GreenBack Tompkins now has a list of 30+ restaurants and eateries in the county that serve scrumptious food made with local ingredients! Good food, strong economy, healthy farms. Learn more and register your step to win local food prizes at or call 272-2292.

Small Farmers: Register Now for Fall, Winter and Spring Online Courses

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Whether you are a seasoned, new, or aspiring farmer, there’s something for you in the 2012-2013 line-up of online courses presented by the Cornell Small Farms Program and Cornell Cooperative Extension. View all 12 courses at

There are courses covering commercial production topics like raising veggies, berries, and poultry, and many more covering management of a successful farm, including business planning, holistic financial planning, marketing, and getting started in farming.

Take advantage of this opportunity to interact with other farmers, develop your farming plans, and learn new skills from the comfort of your own home. Most courses are 6 weeks long and a bargain at $200 each.

Learn more online.


Join the Groundswell!


Groundswell depends on the tireless efforts of our volunteers and local community supporters. There are lots of ways you can get involved! To find out how you can make a donation or become one of our business supporters, click here. Help us spread the word about Groundswell by sharing this newsletter with others!


We need your skills! Check out our volunteers wishlist.

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Groundswell's monthly newsletter is edited by Rachel Firak, Groundswell's New Farmer Training Coordinator. She can be reached at