Help Groundswell Grow New Farmers! As we wrap up another very busy season of new farmer training activities, we’re excited – and very proud – to repo


Help Groundswell Grow New Farmers!

As we wrap up another very busy season of new farmer training activities, we’re excited – and very proud – to report on our accomplishments this year.

You might recall it was back in 2010 when we received a major three-year grant from USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program to launch our new farmer training programs. In the two short years since then, Groundswell has already far surpassed the goals we set. Almost 250 aspiring and beginning farmers have participated in our programs, compared to our target of 68 trainees by fall of 2013! At least twenty-nine trainees, about 12%, have been people of color. And our latest program, the Groundswell Farm Enterprise Incubator, is set to open in Spring of 2013 on ten acres of agricultural land at EcoVillage in Ithaca.

We are building a multigenerational, multicultural farming community that sees strength in diversity. Our trainees come from all over, and carry with them different experiences, skills, and needs. Some of them grew up in farming families, living in rural regions here in central NY or in other countries. Others were raised in cities, and pick up a shovel yearning for a new way of life. Some are young folks with boundless energy and ambition; others want to retire onto the farm of their dreams.

Many of our trainees come with big hopes, but extremely tight funds. Many are landless. Some face language or cultural barriers that separate them from the surrounding community. All across the board, people have been disconnected from traditional, passed-on knowledge about natural cycles, growing plants, raising animals, and working with the land.

Groundswell is responding to the urgent need to train and support a new generation of farmers and “food citizens.” We have created new training pathways, pairing willing learners with experienced teachers, and raising the level of farming expertise in our region. We focus especially on empowering and directing resources to historically disadvantaged populations, including people of color, new immigrants, and those with very limited economic resources, who have often been excluded from the sustainable farming and local foods movements.

What is most mind-boggling to me, as Director of Groundswell, is that we are doing all this with a TINY, PART-TIME PAID STAFF and VERY LIMITED financial resources! It may look like we’re a big organization and we don’t need your help, but the reality is that we MUST develop a stronger base of financial support from local and regional supporters like you. Our USDA grant ends in less than one year, at the same time that our recent grants from Appalachian Regional Commission and Park Foundation expire. Although we are hopeful of getting additional support from these and other sources, nothing is certain.

That is why we are asking you to consider increasing your level of support for Groundswell this year. We want to rely less on outside grants and instead cultivate a circle of supporters like you, who recognize that your contribution to Groundswell is an INVESTMENT in our local food system and our local community. With your financial contribution, plus the dedication and hard work of our staff, our amazing Mentor Farmers, and our many awesome volunteers, we want to ensure that this Groundswell continues to grow.

Your tax-deductible contribution can make a significant difference:

$50 helps us get the word out about our programs to our broader community.
$100 supports a farmer instructor for one on-farm, skill-building workshop.
$250 gives a beginning farmer with limited resources the tuition support she needs to take our Sustainable Farming Certificate Program.
$500 pays for an interpreter to guide aspiring farmer with limited English language skills through the Finger Lakes CRAFT program - our Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training.
$1000 provides four new farm businesses with the management skills and tools to succeed through our Farm Business Planning Course.

Every bit helps. Will you join us?


Joanna Green
Director, Groundswell Center


What our trainees say about Groundswell

The trainees and leaders and farmers in the program are AWESOME people - their collective knowledge is a staggeringly significant resource that makes farming begin to feel possible for me.

Shelley Lovelace, Open Heart Farm (Sustainable Farming Certificate Program)

I find great joy in learning about farming and interacting with farmers and aspiring farmers. The experience has helped me connect to the land (earth) in new and profound ways... In fact, I used some of my newly acquired knowledge when I was at my parents' home in Mexico. I upgraded the composting system, started improving soil fertility for all the trees and shrubs in the gardens, and started preparing a small vegetable garden plot for next year.

Eduardo Carillo-Rubio (Sustainable Farming Certificate Program)

I do want to acknowledge the very potent influence your efforts have had on my quest for increased food sovereignty in Harlem, NY... My garden is getting ridiculously crowded. I've got to get more personal growing space. Recruiting a few partners to look for farmland. Just to let you know that I am serious about my expression that the course was beneficial: especially your injunction to carefully review one's personal needs and expectations, first, [that] helped to refine my vision of where I fit in with Agriculture.

Steven Kidd, Carrie McCracken TRUCE Community Garden (Farm Business Planning Course)

I was born and raised in the Midwestern corn belt in the fifth generation of a large family of corn and soybean farmers... Majoring in Plant Sciences at Cornell gave me a broad knowledge of plant physiology, soil health, and ecology, but it wasn’t until [I joined] Groundswell that the much greater role of plants in the world became apparent to me. Seeing differences between my upbringing and my current home many miles away, I now know that the health of a people truly comes from their soil, and the work of a farmer can be the most fulfilling of all. While I originally intended to use my degree to become a plant breeder, I now plan on being a farmer, and begin my first farm apprenticeship in six weeks.

Henry "Jonathan" Henrichs (Finger Lakes CRAFT)

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!


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

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Groundswell is an initiative of the EcoVillage at Ithaca Center for Sustainability Education, which is a Project of the not-for-profit Center for Transformative Action, Tax ID 16-0990318.