Groundswell News November 2012 Thank you to our Festival Vendors & Volunteers! Thanks for making our Local Food & Farm Fest a great success! We did


Groundswell News November 2012


Thank you to our Festival Vendors & Volunteers!

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A picture of the Big Tent at our event. Thanks to artist Khalil Bey!

Thanks for making our Local Food & Farm Fest a great success!

We did it!!!

Groundswell’s very first Local Foods & Farm Festival was a success-- and we couldn’t have done it without you! Your participation made it a warm, informative and fun-filled event.

Our fabulous line-up of farmers, vendors and educators included West Haven Farm, Main Street Farm, Northland Sheep Dairy, Open Heart Farm, Wolf Tree Farm, Sapsquatch Maple, Edible Acres, Kestrel Perch Berry CSA, Dilmun Hill Student Farm, Kay’s Rare Cacti & Succulents, artist Khalil Bey, Crooked Carrot, Sol Kitchen, The Piggery, Cayuga Lake Creamery, Ithaca Youth Farm Project, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute, Gardens 4 Humanity, Farmshed CNY, Good Life Cookbook, Tompkins County Solid Waste and Ithaca Community Radio. Thank you all for sharing your knowledge, your enthusiasm and your goodies!

And thank you SO MUCH to all our great Volunteers:

Our Parking Crew Barb Neal, Matt Limbach and Nikki Sayward were awesome directing cars and keeping the road clear ‘til the very end! You are much appreciated!

Norma Gutierez, Liz Karabinakis, and Olivia Armstrong were awesome, helping with vendor registration and set-up, and making sure their needs were met during the event. Volunteer Coordinator, Sarah Kelsen, worked tirelessly, throughout the day, with a big smile, checking in volunteers and directing them to their task. Thank you Sarah

To the New Roots Teachers Todd Ayoung, Rebecca Cutter, Rebecca Graham; vista workers, Alex Graham and Leslie Santi, and most of all, all the New Roots Students who pulled together at the last minute to provide us with all those terrific, vibrant signs and soulful music Thank you!

Hooray for our Groundswell Ambassadors Gil Gillespie, Monika Roth, Sam Bosco, Fred Schoeps, Jemila Sequeira, Peter Bardaglio, and Todd McLane who shared their enthusiasm at the Groundswell table, along with lots of information about our programs.

Read more thank yous here...


The New American Farmer

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Groundswell receives award to train immigrant and refugee beginning farmers

We're excited to announce a new, one-year grant award of $73,443 from New York Department of State's New Americans Initiative! This initiative is funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission, with support from the Southern Tier East Regional Planning Development Program. The new funding will enable us to enhance our outreach, training and farm business incubation for immigrant and refugee beginning farmers.

Getting the word out

Are you a “New American” immigrant, with experience in farming in your home country? Or do you work with refugees or other immigrants in your community who might be interested in small-scale farming? If the answer is yes, Groundswell needs your help. Beginning next spring, we'll offer customized training in farm business management, production and marketing, as well as personalized mentoring from experienced farmers and business advisers. For those with limited English language skills, ESL support will be provided. Affordable access to land, water and equipment will also be available at the Groundswell Incubator Farm, at EcoVillage in Ithaca, NY.

Our focus in the next three months is on finding out who might be interested, and getting the word out to them. We’re looking for help from New Americans and from community-based groups who work with New Americans in Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga and Tompkins Counties. If you know of individuals or communities who may have an interest in farming, please contact us at 607-319-5095 or

Changing the face of farming

“Like previous waves of new Americans, these newcomers are engines for economic growth in our state,” said Secretary of State Cesar Perales.”We are proud to be partnering with Groundswell and others to fund a program that helps newcomers skilled in agricultural production realize their entrepreneurial dreams, while strengthening the Southern Tier local agricultural economy. By working with this population to fill education gaps, locate capital, and identify property suitable for agriculture projects, new Americans will increase employment opportunities in the region, and preserve the region’s agricultural lands.”



Groundswell Farm Business Planning Course: Applications are now online!


Do you have the tools to make your new farm business thrive?

In collaboration with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County and Alternatives Federal Credit Union’s Business CENTS Program, Groundswell will offer an intensive Farm Business Planning Course in the winter of 2013. The class covers all major aspects of the farm business start-up process, including assessing your resources; legal and regulatory issues; production planning; marketing; financial feasibility, budgets and recordkeeping; and more. It is also appropriate for established farmers who want to improve their business planning and management skills.

Groundswell Farm Business Planning Course

Dates: January 10 - March 14, 2012 every - Thursday evening for ten weeks

Time: 6:00 - 9:00 PM

Location: Ithaca

Sliding Scale Tuition: $120 to $400

Learn more and apply online today!


Apply now to farm at the Groundswell Incubator Farm in 2013


The Groundswell Farm Enterprise Incubator offers a low-risk environment for budding farmers.

Looking to launch your farm business, but the cost of land got you down?

Apply online today!

The Groundswell Farm Enterprise Incubator is a new program designed to provide support and resources to beginning producers who need affordable access to land. Conveniently located at EcoVillage, just outside the City of Ithaca, NY, the Incubator will provide land, production infrastructure, services (such as tractor tillage), and support from experienced farmer- and business- mentors through Groundswell’s New Farmer Training Programs.

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants for the Incubator program should have:
* A clear farm business concept that you can communicate.
* The intent to operate a commercial enterprise, and to achieve a significant amount of sales as part of your business model.
* Demonstrated farming experience, such as internships, on-farm employment, participation in Groundswell programs, or similar training experiences.

We encourage all interested beginning farmers who meet these eligible criteria to apply to participate in the Incubator Program. However, the selection process will prioritize applicants who are from the local area, have limited financial resources, and/or are "socially-disadvantaged," e.g people of color, first generation immigrants and refugees.

Learn more about the Incubator...


Just Harvest: Growing abundance in food deserts

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by Zachary Murray

Research has widely confirmed that millions of Americans live in communities that lack sufficient access to nutritious, affordable foods. In many of these communities, known as “food deserts,” residents often travel well over a mile to access healthy foods most commonly available at grocery stores and supermarkets. Vulnerable low-income and minority households, who have access to fewer supermarkets and vehicles than wealthier, predominantly white communities, often populate food deserts. The USDA estimates that there are as many as 23.5 million residents of food deserts and 82.5% of this population resides in urban areas.

Physical distance to healthy foods adds pressure to vulnerable populations and is frequently linked to poor diet and, in time, to diabetes, obesity, and a number of diet related illnesses. The prevalence of small corner stores, convenience stores, and fast food, as well as the absence of supermarkets and other sources of fresh food, constitute a poor “food environment”. A poor food environment intensifies risk factors for obesity such as low-incomes, absence of reliable transportation, and lack of cooking knowledge. A number of medical professionals and scientists agree, a community’s food environment affects people’s eating habits, which are an essential contributor to obesity (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Office of the Surgeon General, 2001). When low-income households and people of color lack access to stores that feature nutritious, affordable, high quality foods, it is more difficult to make healthier diet decisions that could lead to improved health outcomes.

Therefore, distance to supermarkets and the availability of public transportation are important determinants of a community’s access to healthy food. It is no coincidence that many residents living within food desert communities are also SNAP (Food Stamps) recipients. While research reveals that SNAP recipients face barriers in accessing vital social services, SNAP recipients also experience difficulties redeeming their benefits in their own communities. SNAP recipients live on average, 1.8 miles from a nearby supermarket and redeem their benefits 4.9 miles away from their home. When healthy food is out of reach, families whose budgets are already stretched thin must find extra money to pay for higher local prices or to cover extra transportation costs. Commonly, SNAP users attempt to stretch their dollars by shopping at distant large grocery stores, supermarkets, and supercenters where they experience cost savings.



Volunteer Spotlight: Matt Gordon


Matt Gordon (left) and fellow Finger Lakes CRAFT trainees hear from Mentor Farmer Thor Oechsner.

Now that our seasonal programs are over, we'd like to show some appreciation for our 2012 SFCP Work-Study volunteer, Matt Gordon!

Before moving to Ithaca, Matt spent two seasons apprenticing on organic vegetable farms in New Paltz, NY and South Royalton, VT, and some time WOOFing in Maine and Norway. Matt's passions include land-based skills, natural building, and playing music (check out his band Red Sled Choir on bandcamp!). He's currently in Ithaca pursuing carpentry and other building opportunities, learning more about farming/homesteading, and is looking for land with close friends.

As our Work-Study volunteer, Matt helped things run smoothly and safely at our on-farm workshops through Groundswell's Sustainable Farming Certificate Program. During his time with us, Matt facilitated farming skills workshops, provided general support to our students and farmer-instructors, and picked up a lot of loose ends. Not only always present, prepared, and on time, Matt consistently went above and beyond, putting in extra hours to make a difference.

In addition to all the energy Matt has put into Groundswell's New Farmer Training Programs, he has shown incredible enthusiasm for our sustainable agriculture community by helping co-coordinate Farm Hack-Ithaca events in October! Matt made himself readily available to help plan the schedule and logistics of the event, and did a great job getting the word out to the farmer community. Devon Van Noble, Groundswell's Incubator Coordinator, says, "It was so nice to have Matt involved with planning the event early on. I found out what a delightful and genuine person Matt is, and I know Farm Hack was a greater success because of the time he committed to it. He was filming as much as he could during the day, and was still one of the last to be cleaning up at night. Thank you Matt!"


Resource Spotlight: Farminars? Yes, Farminars!

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Practical Farmers of Iowa offer free online farminars for beginning farmers.

This fall, learn from experienced farmers from around the country for FREE online!

Practical Farmers of Iowa is an awesome, farmer-led organization that now offers a great collection of online "Farminars" for beginning and established farmers. These are FREE 90-minute, interactive online seminars on a wide variety of farming topics relevant across the country. Broadcast over the Internet, Farminars are held Tuesdays from 7–8:30 pm CST. Check out their lineup below.

You can also access almost 70 more PFI "Farminars" at the PFI Webinar Archive. And you can download audio MP3s of select Farminars, listen to them right on your computer, or subscribe to the PFI Farminar podcast to download new audio as it becomes available.

2012 Fall Farminar Line-up includes...

Nov. 20 – “Production in high tunnels: Salad greens, microgreens and more”

Nov. 27 – “Drought recovery grazing: Ideas to get through the winter and plan for a resilient farm”

Dec. 4 – “Poultry enterprise budgets: Know your expenses and keep your profits"

Dec. 11 – “Beginning a crop and livestock farm: Equipment"

Dec. 18 – “Pricing and marketing produce at farm stands and wholesale to grocers”

Recent Farminars are made possible with financial support from the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, the same wonderful program that supports Groundswell's New Farmer Training Program.

Learn more and register...


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Groundswell is supported by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Grant # 2010-49400-21799. To find more resources and programs for beginning farmers and ranchers please visit, a component of the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. Additional support for Groundswell is provided by the Appalachian Regional Commission/NYS Department of State, the Park Foundation, and supporters like you!

Groundswell's monthly newsletter is compiled by Milagros Gustafson, Administrative Manager, and Rachel Firak, New Farmer Training Coordinator.

We consider article submissions from community groups. Contact us for more information.

The Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming is an initiative of the
EcoVillage at Ithaca Center for Sustainability Education, which is a
project of the Center for Transformative Action.