Groundswell News February 2013 We miss you Rachel! The month of February has been a tough one for us here at Groundswell. Our amazingly talented New


Groundswell News February 2013


We miss you Rachel!

The month of February has been a tough one for us here at Groundswell. Our amazingly talented New Farmer Training Coordinator, Rachel Firak, was involved in a tragic car accident on February 2nd, and although she's on the mend physically, we are all mourning the loss of Rachel's beloved partner, Collin Anderson.

Rachel - we all miss you terribly, and we're hoping for your speedy recovery. We look forward to the news that you're feeling a little bit better.

Messages of support for Rachel can be posted on our facebook page, or sent to her care of Groundswell, P.O. Box 6679, Ithaca, NY 14851.


You're Invited: Fence-Raising Parties at the Groundswell Incubator Farm!

Learn skills, make friends, have fun and support new farmers in our community!

Have you ever wanted to learn how to install a deer fence at your farm or homestead? Better yet, would you like to get some hands-on fence-building experience with the guidance of an experienced farmer? Then join us!


Sunday March 24th, 10 AM - 4 PM

Fence-Raising Workshop & Work Party


Monday March 25th, 11 AM - 3 PM

Fence-Raising Work Party

Groundswell invites you to be part of the fence-raising action at the Groundswell Incubator Farm. We'll start on Sunday at 10 am with a one-hour workshop on the basics of designing and installing deer fencing. Then we will all put our heads & hands together to create a lasting and beautiful fence, which will protect the new farm enterprises that will be launching in 2013 and beyond.

The workshop is free for those who can put in 3 hours or more of fence-building help, $30 for those who can't. Let us know if you plan to come by sending an email to Or just show up!

First, we will set about 50 black locust posts into their pre-dug holes. Then we will roll out the woven wire along the fence line, and use everyone’s energy to hold it up to the posts while it gets stapled on and tightened. Altogether we'll be building about 1700 feet of 8 foot tall woven-wire fencing that will protect 4 acres of the Incubator Farm from deer and other critters who feast on farmers’ crops.

On Monday March 25th, we will finish building the fence with a group of high school students on a service trip from the MATCH charter schools in the Boston area. These students have shown a high-level of dedication to their education, but rarely get a chance to spend time working outside or to experience new types of careers and lifestyles. If you would like to work alongside these student-volunteers, we encourage you to come work with us on Monday, March 25th from 11 am to 3 pm.

We look forward to raising this fence with your help... Many hands make light work!


Social Justice From Seed to Table


Agricultural Justice leader Elizabeth Henderson will speak in Ithaca on March 14

Groundswell is proud to sponsor a reception and workshop on "Social Justice From Seed to Table" with renowned organic farmer and activist Elizabeth Henderson. Henderson is one of the founders of the Agricultural Justice Project and its "Food Justice Certified" labeling program.

Food businesses of any type and size can become Food Justice Certified, including farms, restaurants retailers and processors. The certification process looks at the business' hired labor practices as well as contracts with other businesses and/or with farmers that it purchases from. The holistic approach ensures fair treatment of workers, fair pricing for farmers, and fair business practices.

The event will be held from 5:30 - 8:00 PM at La Tourelle in Ithaca, and is cosponsored by the Sustainable Enterprise & Entrepreneur Network. Cost is $15 for general public, $10 for SEEN members and Groundswell volunteers. Scholarships available. To register, send an email to


Supporting Our Farmer-Mentors

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Primitive Pursuits educator Tim Drake leads a hands-on learning activity for farmer mentors.

Groundswell helps farmers develop skills as educators

On February 10th Groundswell hosted 22 farmers and farm educators in a program called "Mapping the Mentor's Journey." The 8-hour workshop was designed and led by nature awareness educators Tim Drake and Jed Jordan, and leadership coach Corinne Eisenman from Primitive Pursuits.

Participants included farmers with decades of experience as well as those much earlier on the learning curve. "I have over 30 years of experience with organic vegetable and fruit production," said Brian Caldwell, who serves as an adviser on Groundswell's Incubator Oversight Team. "I feel like it is time to shift more to teaching/sharing these skills and less to doing."

On the other end of the spectrum, Joanne Ducas will soon be entering her second year as Assistant Farm Manager on a small organic farm. "One of the things I am most interested in is how to be a better mentor towards the folks that work at the farm, including both employees and CSA work traders. I went through an apprentice program myself and found it to be incredibly beneficial and wish to grow my skills as a productive and communicative farmer and educator."

FarmCreditEast web
Donn & SP Class 2012 (480x360)

Groundswell Mentor Farmer Donn Hewes teaching our Practicum students at Northland Sheep Dairy last summer.

Groundswell receives grant to support Mentors

We are pleased to report that the Northeast Farm Credit AgEnhancement Program has awarded us a grant of $1,000 to engage experienced farmer mentors and business advisers for our Farm Enterprise Incubator Program. The funds will support mentors to work one-on-one with Incubator participants, helping them build skills in farm production, record keeping, marketing, and business management.

Northeast Farm Credit AgEnhancement supports programs, projects and events that are intended to strengthen agriculture, commercial fishing and the forest products sector in the Northeast. Thank you Farm Credit East for giving us the opportunity to partner with you in support of new farmers in this community!

You too can support Groundswell's Mentor Farmers! Click HERE to donate now.


The Groundswell Center Selected for Farmland Advisors Training Program

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Devon Van Noble, Groundswell's Incubator Coordinator, was selected to participate in a two-year training program for farmland professionals.

Devon Van Noble of The Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming has been selected to participate in Farmland Advisors, a new training program on farm transfer and farmland access options designed for professionals working with farmers and landowners.

With nearly 25 percent of the farmland in New York and New England owned by farmers aged 65 and older, transferring land to the next generation of farmers poses a significant challenge. The Farmland Advisors program was launched to strengthen the network of professionals capable of working with farmers and landowners on transferring farm businesses and farmland and aiding new farmers in securing land.

The two-year training program will be led by American Farmland Trust, a nationwide farmland conservation organization, and Land For Good, an organization that helps provide farmland access, farm transfer planning, land planning, and farm use agreements. Funding is provided by a Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Professional Development Grant. For more information about Farmland Advisors, contact Diane Held at (716) 471-7134 or


Volunteer Opportunity

Trainee Profile Writer

Are you an excellent writer? Do you want a fascinating assignment that will look great on your resume, and will really help us out here at Groundswell?

We're looking for a talented and motivated writer who can interview Groundswell trainees about their experiences, their plans and their challenges as beginning farmers. Our trainee profiles are published in this newsletter and on USDA's Beginning Farmer and Rancher website, and we use them to tell the Groundswell story to funders and supporters. Interested? Contact us at!


Free Farm Energy Audits!


Main Street Farms, Homer, NY.

NYSERDA's Agriculture Energy Efficiency Program has funding NOW - don't wait!

NYSERDA can help you identify and implement electric and natural gas energy efficiency measures for your farm, including but not limited to: orchards, greenhouses, vegetables, vineyards, grain dryers, and poultry/egg farms. Your farm must be a customer of a New York State investor-owned utility and contribute to the System Benefits Charge(SBC).

NYSERDA will assign a FlexTech Consultant to perform an energy audit for your farm at no cost for audits up to $2,500. You can request an energy audit, project implementation incentives, or both. For more information and to get an application visit


More Local Initiatives Promote Food Justice

Poetry Contest: Food Justice and Healthy Eating in Impoverished Communities

DEADLINE: February 25th, 2013. Winners will be announced April 22.
* First Prize $150 Gift Certificate
* Second Prize $100 Gift Certificate
* Third Prize $50 Gift Certificate

Groundswell is pleased to announce that our collaborator, the Rainbow Healing Center, has made Food Justice the theme of its 7th Annual Black History Month International Poetry/Essay Contest. The contest is open to all poets age 18 or younger. Poems should be no longer than 750 words. All participants will receive certificates of Appreciation and poems will be published in the 2013 Black History Contest Youth Voices Poetry/Essay Book. The contest is sponsored by Rainbow Healing Center Inc., GreenStar Cooperative Market and GreenStar Community Projects.

To enter, contact Ms. Olivia Armstrong, Executive Director, Rainbow Healing Center Inc. (607) 319-0990,. (607) 216-7443,

Groundswell joins with Labor-Religion Coalition of the Finger Lakes to support 40-Hour Fast for Food Justice!

"Justice does not mean simply providing assistance so that poor people can get by. It means constructing an economic system of sustainable sufficiency for all." Reverend William Gibson, Labor-Religion Coalition of the Finger Lakes

Thursday March 14, 7:00 pm-8:00 pm

Gathering to Gear-up for the Fast. Share worker justice stories, do justice advocacy, make your fasting resolution. We'll talk about the Justice for Farmworkers campaign for labor rights and the new book Behind the Kitchen Door on rights for restaurant workers. Tompkins County Workers Center, 115 E. Martin Luther King Jr. St. The Commons, Ithaca.

Saturday March 16, Noon-3:00 pm

Ethical Eats Potluck and Food Justice Teach-In.
The challenge is to bring a dish to pass whose ingredients were produced in ways good for the Earth and good for the workers. All are invited to break the fast together at noon (even if you didn’t fast!) Then we’ll reflect on justice “from farm to fork”. Third Street (Quaker) Meeting House, 120 Third Street, Ithaca

For more info: or 607-272-5062 ext 12


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Contact Us

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

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

Groundswell's new farmer training programs are supported by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Grant #2010-49400-21799.

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.