Groundswell Story: Main Street Farms

Groundswell Story: Main Street Farms

Allan and Bob Cat, owners of Main Street Farms in Homer NY, are graduates of Groundswell Center programs who now operate a small diversified vegetable farm that does CSA and wholesale and farmers markets. They currently have 30 acres in vegetables, 15 in cover crop, a aquaponic operation, and a plan to farm their entire 150 acres in 3-5 years. The farm has been in operation for 6 years and employs up to 15 people.

How did you decide to become farmers?

Bob Cat:  Allan was a highschool Social Studies teacher and started to see a connection between his students having trouble learning and what they were eating for lunch – often a bag of chips and a bottle of soda. This inspired him to get more involved with food. Originally he started researching aquaponics and then bought a flower nursery in Homer which is when he asked me to come join him. I was working as an outdoor environmental educator at the time, also with kids, and the food that they were being fed was also not very good, which also led me to think about eating better food. So for both of us, it all started with education.

Why do you think this work is important?

Allan: This work is important on different levels. The most basic level is from an environmental quality perspective as we’re an organic farm so we take care of the soil and the environment much better than bigger conventional farms. The next level is that we’re growing food for our local community so we’re helping people to eat better, eat healthier, eat what’s in season, and not go to grocery store so much. And then on a whole different level, we have a decent-sized farm business and a bunch of employees which makes us feel really good that we can provide jobs and employ people, and take part in our community that way.

What advice would you give your beginning farmer selves 5 years ago?

Allan: Personally, I would say visit as many farms as possible, work on a farm for a year or two ,especially if you’re unsure what scale of farm you envision, and make sure you like the work. Also remember that as much fun as it is being outside farming, it’s still a business …at some point you’ll have to pay some bills.

Bob Cat: Neither of us actually grew up on farms or even spent a full season working on farms before we started Main Street Farms. We were either avid gardeners or did some WWOOFING. Groundswell programs were our saving grace in that they provided an accelerated crash course into farming even though we went into it without full-season farming experience. Even more importantly than the things we learned, were the contacts we made with some of our mentors, especially having someone like Todd McLane (who now manages the TC3 Farm) on speed dial. But to echo what Allan said, take the time to work on other people’s farms, make your mistakes somewhere else, and get your ducks in a row to make sure farming is really something you want to do.

How did you get started with Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming?

Allan: I got involved with Groundswell when they were a brand new organization in their first year ever by taking their year-long Sustainable Farming Training Certificate course. I also took their Farm Business Planning Course and I went on multiple Finger Lakes CRAFT tours. Bob Cat took the Sustainable Farming Certificate Course in its second year, which I think they changed and no longer offer.

How has your relationship with Groundswell grown since then?

Allan: We did some advisory work for a while but then got super busy because the farm keeps expanding like crazy every year.

Bob Cat: We’ve also attended workshops, taught workshops, go to meetings, go to events, provided donations, and more. We try to help Groundswell on a multitude of levels and whatever way we can.

What would be different if you hadn’t taken Groundswell courses?

Bob Cat:  I think the farm would be way behind and much smaller, and we probably would have made more mistakes and relied a lot more on internet searches for information.

Allan: Also if we didn’t take Groundswell courses, we wouldn’t have tapped into the network of some of the most amazing farmers in the Finger Lakes who have been successful vegetables farmers for a long time and who are very willing to share knowledge and resources with us.

Q&A with Groundswell Board Member Mary Kate Wheeler: Climate Change, Water Access and Farming in Peru

Q&A with Groundswell Board Member Mary Kate Wheeler: Climate Change, Water Access and Farming in Peru

72192_originalCornell graduate student and Groundswell Board Member Mary Kate Wheeler spent 6 months in 2015 working in Peru collaborating with a local nonprofit, CARE Perú, to conduct surveys with 500 households in the Shullcas River Watershed.  The region is rapidly changing due to climate change and that is having implications on food security and nutrition. Mary Kate was kind enough to fill us in on the work she did and we thought we’d share some of her story.

GS: What have you been up to for the last 6 months in Peru?

MKW: For the last six months of 2015 I lived at 3,200 meters above sea level in the Central Peruvian Andes. There I collaborated with a local nonprofit, CARE Perú, to conduct surveys with 500 households in the Shullcas River Watershed. The Shullcas River links the melting Huaytapallana Glacier to the growing city of Huancayo, and provides an important source of irrigation for many small farms in between. The glacier’s rapid retreat is one of many climate change impacts projected to affect agriculture and food security in this region. Our research explores farm and household adaptations to climate change, and implications for food security and nutrition

GS: What does farming look like in the Peruvian Andes?unspecified-1

MKW: Farmers in the Shullcas River Watershed live between 3,300 and 3,900 meters above sea level, and their farming practices vary by elevation. At the lower end of that range they grow lots of maize, which is often accompanied by fava beans and modern varieties of potato. At higher elevations, farmers focus on traditional and modern potato varieties, along with other indigenous tubers including oca, olluco and mashua. Many families keep livestock for dairy, meat and fiber production, including llama, alpaca and the ever-popular cuy (guinea pig). In farming households both men and women participate in farm labor and decision-making.

Andean farms are tiny by U.S. standards. The typical farm in our study was only 0.25 hectares (0.6 acres), and 95% of farmers had less than 1 hectare (2.5 acres) for crop production. Farming is mostly oriented toward subsistence rather than commercial unspecified-4production. Only a quarter of all farming households sold any crops in the market, and most of these “commercial” farms still allocated much of their harvest to home consumption. For many, crop production is not a source of income, but a
strategy to supplement a household diet that also depends on purchased foods. Most families rely on at least one source of off-farm income to make ends meet.

GS: What kinds of challenges do small farmers face in the mountains?

MKW: The interconnected challenges of poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition are a daily reality for farm families in the Andes. Remote rural households lack basic infrastructure to meet their health, education, information and financial needs. Low market prices and high transportation costs limit farm profits. The climate is changing faster in the Andes than in many parts of the world, so farmers face high climate uncertainty and greater production risks.

GS: What kind of education and support do farmer training organizations offer? 

MKW: Local nonprofit organizations provide education and extension services to build community capacity and support individual success in production and marketing. CARE Perú offers technical training through workshops, demonstration farms, farmer exchange visits and private consultations. Trainings emphasize climate-adaptive farming practices, including soil and water conservation strategies and the cultivation of native crops and varieties. CARE Perú also organizes producers to form farmer associations for specific products. Farmers in these groups share information and support each other to improve production practices, often with a goal of collectively marketing their products in higher value markets.

GS: How will your results help farmer training organizations and others to better serve smallholder farmers in the Andes?

unspecifiedMKW: Our research will help to explain why some farmers chose to adopt farm management practices that reduce their exposure to climate change impacts, while others do not. We will also explore important linkages between agriculture, food security and nutrition in our study area.

While the analysis is still underway, we expect our results will help farmer training organizations like CARE Perú to better promote climate change adaptation among farmers.  Our research will also inform the design of policies and programs that link climate adaptation in agriculture with improvements in household food security and nutrition.

You can learn more about the project here:

http://www.econthatmatters.com/2016/04/the-role-of-andean-indigenous-crops-in-climate-adaptation-and-food-security-in-the-mantaro-valley-of-central-peru/

Faces of Groundswell: Erica Frenay, Trainee

Faces of Groundswell: Erica Frenay, Trainee

ericafrenayBy Ben Roosa

In the six years since Shelterbelt’s inception, Erica and husband Craig Modisher have been working hard to establish the farm, build a home, and raise their children, all while maintaining off-farm jobs with the Cornell Small Farms Program and Ironwood Builders, respectively. However, Erica has still found time to take several Groundswell courses over the past few years. Building off of an exciting background of working and volunteering on farms around the world since college, Erica says that Groundswell programs and the generosity of local farming mentors has been essential to the success of Shelterbelt Farm.

Erica took the Holistic Organic Orchard Management course last year… a very timely endeavor, given that they are currently in the process of planting an orchard at Shelterbelt!  With the help of the class, they have planned and started to install a diverse, integrated orchard system, laid out in long contoured rows, that promises to produce an abundance of food.  Similarly, Erica is currently taking part in Groundswell’s year-round High Tunnels course which has helped to advise many decisions for Shelterbelt’s new and future hoop houses, from materials sourcing to orientation and management.  The farm plans to use these sun-warmed structures to extend food production through the entire year.

When asked what advice she had for new and beginning farmers, Erica asserted that “that reading and researching about agriculture is great, but no substitute for the wisdom of the local community of farmers and homesteaders.”

If you’re interested in connecting with other farmers and homesteaders in our community, please check out Groundswell’s Farmer to Farmer Networks and the Homesteaders Network.

Ben Roosa is a 2015 Volunteer Program Assistant with Groundswell and a great writer, don’t you think? Thank you Ben!

Call to Action: Dig Deeper!

Call to Action: Dig Deeper!

by Rafael Aponte, Outreach Coordinator

With the summer almost upon us in the Finger Lakes, DSC_4380things are beginning to heat up, and the time for heavy lifting is here!

During times of hard work I am inspired by the community gardeners I saw as a child in the South Bronx. These gardeners fought to reclaim abandoned plots of land from negligent landlords to create community spaces that would provide healthy food. I watched as they broke through man-made brick and leadened soils to turn barren spaces into ones of resilience and abundance. They took up their shovels as a political act of creating just alternatives to the conditions they faced.

It is in this spirit that I became a farmer.  And each season, I take up my own shovel to provide access to healthy, sustainably produced foods to underserved communities. I founded Rocky Acres Community Farm to support these principles and assist in creating new pathways to a fair food future.

All food is political, whether intended to be or not. The price of food, our access to it, and the hands that harvest it all carry a political implication. Unfortunately, not everyone’s best interests are reflected in what ultimately ends up on our plates. By fostering a space that allows for education and collaboration, we can confront the asymmetrical power structures that deny equity in our food system.

Here at Groundswell, we are pushing to support the many communities that are taking action to create a just structure where their voices are heard and their needs are met. From those returning home from war, families new to the U.S., or those historically denied access to land, Groundswell strives to provide support and education that acknowledges the struggles that both farmers and food citizens face.

If we only scratch the surface, our roots will never fully take hold.  As we dig deeper past the barriers we face and through our dominant cultural paradigms, we can see much larger systems at play. It is this broader systems thinking that allows us to make the necessary structural changes to create a food system that sustains us all.

We must take the time to look at what holds us back. Critical analysis of these barriers is the first step in producing a proactive framework that addresses them. We must all ask ourselves, what is stopping my community from creating a just food system?

Grab your shovel, roll up your sleeves, and lets all dig deeper.

A Cutting Edge Return to Old Traditions: Farming with Draft Animal Power

A Cutting Edge Return to Old Traditions: Farming with Draft Animal Power

New farmers, returning to old traditions and using cutting edge knowledge, learn to “think like a horse” and farm with draft animals.

With the rising cost of fuel and farm equipment, more farmers are turning 2014 Draft Animals (1)towards a centuries old tradition: farming with draft animals.  Even though farming with draft animals is a seven thousand year old technology, new farmers don’t have to utilize ancient equipment or ideas.  Instead, they can utilize cutting edge technology and innovative ideas to move towards fuel-independent farming.

Traditionally, the skills required to work with draft animals were passed down through oral tradition, but with more and more young people choosing farming as a career, rather than inheriting it, there has become a need for a different way to gain this knowledge and experience.  Donn Hewes, of Northland Sheep Dairy and Donn’s Teamster School in Marathon, NY, has become passionate about passing on the almost-lost art of training and driving draft animals.

On Saturday, May 2nd and Sunday, May 3rd, Donn’s Teamster School and the Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming will host a two day Draft Animal Practicum designed to provide new farmers with hands-on experience in driving draft horses.  “This workshop will help folks better understand how draft horses and mules think and why they do what they do,” Hewes says.  “It’ll be a fun learning experience for anyone just getting started with horses.  We’ll spend time focusing on how we prepare animals for success at farm work.”

Genevieve DeClerck, an aspiring farmer who participated in 2011 Draft Animal Practicum says, “The draft horse workshop at Northland was incredible. Literally one of the coolest things I’ve ever participated in EVER.”

What, Where, When

How Draft Horses & Mules Think Horse : Training Methods for Beginning Teamsters

Saturday & Sunday, May 2-3, 9 AM – 3PM

Location: Northland Sheep Dairy, Marathon, NY

Tuition: $150 for one day,  $250 for two days. Tuition Assistance is available for those with limited financial resources.

To register please visit www.groundswellcenter.org or call 607-319-5095

Introducing New Groundswell Staff

Introducing New Groundswell Staff

Becca Rimmel, Education Program ManagerBecca Rimmel

Becca will be coordinating a number of Groundswell programs, including Finger Lakes CRAFT, Year-Round High Tunnels, Draft Animal Practicum, Finger Lakes Orchards Exchange, Cooperative Farming Network, and several other programs still being developed.

Becca brings to Groundswell a passion for sustainable food systems, awesome organizing skills, and years of experience with curriculum development, educational and mentoring program design, volunteer coordination, non-profit management, and group facilitation.  She has lots of experience working with farmers, having managed 3 different farmers markets, and serving last year as the Farm to School Americorps VISTA staff at New Roots Charter School. And to top it all off, she is also working towards a masters degree in Sustainable Food Systems through Green Mountain College’s distance learning program.

Becca was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and spent time in quite a few different mid-western and New England states, before relocating to Ithaca. When she’s not working, she enjoys hanging out with family, digginʼ in the dirt, snapping photos, spinning yarn, and spending as much time birding and poking around in the woods as possible.

You can contact Becca at becca@groundswellcenter.org.

Rafael Aponte, Outreach SpecialistRafa cropped

Rafael Aponte will be leading our outreach program, ensuring that Groundswell is connecting with the diverse audiences that we aspire to support. He will also be the lead curriculum designer for our Farming Opportunities workshops and Farming While Brown programs. A beginning farmer himself, Rafa’s Rocky Acres Farm will serve as a host site for some of these programs.

Rafa was born and raised in the South Bronx and has over twelve years of experience working as a community activist, advocate, and educator.  In 2011 he completed the two-year Farm School NYC certificate program focused on urban agriculture and food justice. He then served as Assistant Farm Manager at Wassaic Community Farm in Wassaic, NY. He relocated to Ithaca, NY and completed Groundswell’s Farm Business Planning Course in 2012, and also joined Groundswell’s Steering Committee at that time.

In 2013 Aponte established Rocky Acres Community Farm in Dryden, NY, a community-minded farming venture that combines the spirit of activism with the transformative healing aspects of nature.

You can contact Rafa at rafael@groundswellcenter.org.

Focus on Food Sovereignty

Focus on Food Sovereignty

At one of our Groundswell Development meetings last month, the question came up: “What is Food Sovereignty?” We’d like to share with you the 6 food sovereignty principles which were drafted in 2007 at the International Forum for Food Sovereignty in Mali.

Food sovereignty…


1. Focuses on Food for People: Food sovereignty stresses the right to sufficient, healthy and culturally appropriate food for all individuals, peoples and communities, including those who are hungry or living under occupation, in conflict zones and marginalized. Food sovereignty rejects the proposition that food is just another commodity for international agribusiness.
2. Values Food Providers: Food sovereignty values and supports the contributions, and respects the rights, of women and men, peasants and small scale family farmers, pastoralists, artisanal fishers, forest dwellers, indigenous peoples and agricultural and fisheries workers, including migrants, who cultivate, grow, harvest and process food; and rejects those policies, actions and programs that undervalue them, threaten their livelihoods and eliminate them.
3. Localizes Food Systems: Food sovereignty brings food providers and consumers together in common cause; puts providers and consumers at the center of decision-
making on food issues; protects food providers from the dumping of food and food aid in local markets; protects consumers from poor quality and unhealthy food, inappropriate food aid and food tainted with genetically modified organisms; and resists governance structures, agreements and practices that depend on and promote unsustainable and inequitable international trade and give power to remote and unaccountable corporations.
4. Makes Decisions Locally: Food sovereignty seeks control over and access to territory, land, grazing, water, seeds, livestock and fish populations for local food providers. These resources ought to be used and shared in socially and environmentally sustainable ways which conserve diversity. Food sovereignty recognizes that local territories often cross geopolitical borders and advances the right of local communities to inhabit and use their territories; it promotes positive interaction between food providers in different regions and territories and from different sectors to resolve internal conflicts or conflicts with local and national authorities; and rejects the privatization of natural resources through laws, commercial contracts and intellectual property rights regimes.

5. Builds Knowledge and Skills: Food sovereignty builds on the skills and local knowledge of food providers and their local organizations that conserve, develop and manage localized food production and harvesting systems, developing appropriate research systems to support this and passing on this wisdom to future generations. Food sovereignty rejects technologies that undermine, threaten or contaminate these, e.g. genetic engineering.
6. Works with Nature: Food sovereignty uses the contributions of nature in diverse, low external input agroecological production and harvesting methods that maximize the contribution of ecosystems and improve resilience and adaptation, especially in the face of climate change. Food sovereignty seeks to heal the planet so that the planet may heal us; and, rejects methods that harm beneficial ecosystem functions, that depend on energy intensive monocultures and livestock factories, destructive fishing practices and other industrialized production methods, which damage the environment and contribute to global warming.

Read more at www.foodsovereignty.org.

New Americans, New Farmers: How immigrants and refugees are enriching the landscape

New Americans, New Farmers: How immigrants and refugees are enriching the landscape
A New American farmer with Burlington, VT’s
New Farms for New Americans

by Susannah Spero

Farms run by New Americans are thriving all over the United States. Fueled primarily by federal and state funding, New American agriculture programs offer immigrants and refugees opportunities to prosper from their agricultural skills while gaining valuable English language, marketing, and management experience.

New Americans often worked as farmers in their native countries and thus possess a great deal of agricultural knowledge; however, after arriving in the United States, New Americans may lack the capital necessary to purchase land or manage a farm business. Agricultural programming for New Americans extends the benefits of the local food and farming movement to these populations, merging public interest in the development of vibrant regional food economies with New Americans’ expertise and needs.


Vermont, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Idaho, as well as many other states, host notable New Americans agriculture programs, many of which are funded by the Refugee Agriculture Partnership Program and the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Farmers from nations including Somalia, Cambodia, Bhutan, Burundi, Liberia, and Vietnam have thrived on American soil and started successful small farm businesses. Nonprofit organizations assist New Americans in learning the intricacies of the fickle North American climate, identifying prospective marketing channels, managing a farm business, and obtaining land, tools, and seeds.


New Farms for New Americans, a highly successful refugee and immigrant agriculture enterprise in Burlington, Vermont, provides New Americans with small plots of land in a communal field, and assists more ambitious clients with finding additional acreage. Fresh Start Farms in Portland, Maine, is a collective of New Americans who manage individual farms. Through Fresh Start Farms, the participants receive trainings and consultations on growing produce in the unfamiliar Maine climate.

Participants in such programs sell their produce or value-added products at neighborhood market stands, to restaurants, CSAs, and supermarkets, earning income while providing their communities with organic, locally grown produce. New Americans often grow crops native to their home countries, such as lemongrass and snake gourds, and use diverse growing techniques, such as trellising cucumbers.

In the Southern Tier region of NYS, the Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming is working to make land and other resources more available to New Americans interested in farming. Groundswell offers foreign-born and children of foreign-born Americans, refugees, and immigrants tailored farm business management, production, and marketing training; mentoring from experienced farmers and business advisors; and affordable access to land at EcoVillage in Ithaca, NY. Funding for this effort comes from a generous grant by the Appalachian Regional Commission, and is made possible by the “New Americans Initiative” recently launched by the NYS Department of State Office for New Americans.

By embarking upon this initiative, Groundswell hopes to help New Americans, including refugees and immigrants, participate in economic and entrepreneurial opportunities afforded by the growing local foods movement. Our goal is to increase the number of New American farmers in Central New York in order to enhance the cultural diversity of our farms and communities, which will also keep agricultural land and infrastructure in production.
To learn more about what Groundswell can offer, visit our
website.

Susannah Spero helps Groundswell connect with New Americans in Ithaca. To learn more about Susannah, check out her volunteer profile.


Are you a new American, an immigrant or a refugee?
Do you want to learn more about farming, or start your own farm?
Groundswell can help!
Call us at 607-319-5095 or email newamericans@groundswellcenter.org.

UN: Democracy and diversity can mend broken food systems

UN: Democracy and diversity can mend broken food systems
From the United Nations:
GENEVA (10 March 2014) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, 
today called for the world’s food systems to be radically and democratically redesigned to ensure the human right to adequate food and freedom from hunger.
“The eradication of hunger and malnutrition is an achievable goal. However, it will not be enough to refine the logic of our food systems – it must instead be reversed,” Mr. De Schutter stressed during the presentation of his final report* to the UN Human Rights Council after a six-year term as Special Rapporteur.
The expert warned that the current food systems are efficient only from the point of view of maximizing agribusiness profits. “At the local, national and international levels, the policy environment must urgently accommodate alternative, democratically-mandated visions,” he said.
Objectives such as supplying diverse, culturally-acceptable foods to communities, supporting smallholders, sustaining soil and water resources, and raising food security within particularly vulnerable areas, must not be crowded out by the one-dimensional quest to produce more food.”
“The greatest deficit in the food economy is the democratic one. By harnessing people’s knowledge and building their needs and preferences into the design of ambitious food policies at every level, we would arrive at food systems that are built to endure,” Mr. De Schutter said.
Local food systems
“Food democracy must start from the bottom-up, at the level of villages, regions, cities, and municipalities,” the rights expert said.

“Food security must be built around securing the ability of smallholder farmers to thrive,” he noted. “Respect for their access to productive resources is key in this regard,” he added, calling for priority investments in agroecological and poverty-reducing forms of agriculture.
Mr. De Schutter urged cities to take food security into their own hands. “By 2050 more than 6 billion people – more than two in three – will live in cities. It is vital that these cities identify logistical challenges and pressure points in their food supply chains, and develop a variety of channels to procure their food, in line with the wishes, needs and ideas of their inhabitants.”
“Emerging social innovations in all parts of the world show how urban consumers can be reconnected with local food producers, while at the same time reducing rural poverty and food insecurity,” he said. “Such innovations must be supported.”
National strategies
The expert warned, however, that these local initiatives can only succeed if they are supported and complemented at the national level.
“Governments have a major role to play in bringing policies into coherence with the right to food, and ensuring that actions are effectively sequenced, but there is no single recipe,” he said.
“In some cases,” Mr. De Schutter noted, “the priority will be to promote short circuits and direct producer-consumer links in order to strengthen local smallholder farming and reduce dependence on imports. In other cases, the prevailing need may be to strengthen cooperatives in order to sell to large buyers under dependable contracts.”
The key lies in democratic decision-making, he stressed. “National right to food strategies should be co-designed by relevant stakeholders, in particular the groups most affected by hunger and malnutrition, and they should be supported by independent monitoring.”
International coherence
“Just as local-level initiatives cannot succeed without support from national strategies, efforts at the domestic level require an international enabling environment to bear fruit,” the Special Rapporteur added.
Mr. De Schutter highlighted in his report the promising efforts of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) to bring together governments, civil society, international agencies and the private sector to collectively address the challenges that food systems face, but warned that “the CFS remains the exception in bringing participation and democracy into the global governance arena, and in accommodating different visions of food security.”
“Other global governance bodies must align themselves with the strategic framework provided by the CFS. The WTO, for example, must not hinder developing countries undertaking ambitious food security policies and investing in small-holder agriculture,” he said.
The Special Rapporteur underscored that attempts by developing countries to improve their food security will only be successful if there are parallel reforms in the global north.
“Wealthy countries must move away from export-driven agricultural policies and leave space instead for small-scale farmers in developing countries to supply local markets,” Mr. De Schutter said. “They must also restrain their expanding claims on global farmland by reining in the demand for animal feed and agrofuels, and by reducing food waste.”
In addition to his report, the expert presented a summary of recommendations issued over the course of his mandate as Special Rapporteur (2008-2014), covering food price volatility, trade and investment in agriculture, regulating agribusiness, agrofuels, food aid and development cooperation, nutrition, social protection, women’s rights, Human Rights Impact Assessments, national strategies, agricultural workers, contract farming, small-holder farmers, agroecology, and the reinvestment in agriculture.   
(*) Read the Special Rapporteur’s final report to the UN Human Rights Council: http://www.srfood.org/images/stories/pdf/officialreports/20140310_finalreport_en.pdf

Homestead Farmers and Gardeners Gathering July 28

Homestead Farmers and Gardeners Gathering July 28

Full Fat Farm

Sunday July 28, 3 -5 PM

This month’s Homesteaders Gathering will be on Sunday, July 28, 3:00 – 5:00 PM at the homestead of Valerie Hahn. The event is open to all Groundswell Members. Please register in advance to receive directions – see below.

Valerie and her family live in a rustic, passive solar house on a 26-acre homestead surrounded by New York State Forest lands. Our July Gathering will offer a chance to see how they use biodynamic and permaculture practices to maintain a diversified farmstead that includes two cows, a goat, hogs and chickens who graze on over six acres of pasture. During the visit, Groundswell Members will enjoy a special sampling of freshly-made raw cows’ milk, cultured pasture butter and cheese!

The afternoon will include exploration of their pastures, the 1/2 acre vegetable garden, forest, fruit trees, herb gardens, ponds and creeks; and gravity-fed spring water.

When they bought the property in 2007 they set about creating a homestead that fulfilled both material and non-material needs. Join us on July 28th for this very special Homestead Gathering to learn more about how homestead life feeds body and soul.

Groundswell Members may register by calling 607-319-5095 or sending an email to info@groundswellcenter.org. You will receive a confirmation email unless the event is already full. To become a Groundswell Member click here.

**PLEASE NOTE:** THIS EVENT OPEN TO FIRST 20 REGISTRANTS.

Support the Ithaca Community Gardens!

For 30 years Ithaca Community Gardens has been at a valuable resource for people who want to grow their own, but don’t have the space to do it at home. This includes many low-income households, and many immigrant and refugee families. A long-term lease with the City expires at the end of this year.  The City Council says it wants to make the land available for development, and has proposed a lease that would allow the City to remove the Gardens on 90 days notice.  Undeveloped land in the City is extremely scarce and very expensive, and no other suitable site for a large, urban community garden has been found.  Other progressive communities around the country are expanding their community gardens, in the name of sustainability and food justice; Ithaca should not be moving in the opposite direction!

What can we do?
Please contact Common Council members and the Mayor to voice your support for a new, long-term lease without the threat of early termination.  If you can, please attend a meeting of the City Administration Committee, this Wednesday, 7/24/2013, at 6:00 pm in City Hall, to show your support for the Gardens (or come to the next full Council meeting, on 8/7 at 6:00 pm). To learn more, contact ithacagardensboard@gmail.com. As always, thank you for your support of a strong local food system!

Upcoming Workshops – Register Now!

Pastured Pigs Basics

Wednesday, July 31, 5 – 8 PM. Kingbird Farm, Berkshire, NY
An introduction to pig biology and behavior; opportunities and challenges for profitable pasture-based pig farming; basics of care, feeding, housing, health issues, processing and marketing. Instructor: Karma Glos.Cost: $45-$60 Voluntary Sliding Scale. To register email info@groundswellcenter.org.
Organic Pastured Poultry Intensive
Monday, Aug 12, 10 AM – 4 PM. Kingbird Farm, Berkshire, NY
An in-depth, full-day program for those already raising poultry or with a serious interest in small-scale commercial production of meat and/or eggs. Get your questions answered by one of the region’s leading experts in organic poultry systems. Instructor: Karma Glos.Cost: $120-$150 Voluntary Sliding Scale. To register email info@groundswellcenter.org.
Poultry Processing Practicum
Sessions run from 9am – 3pm by appointment. Kingbird Farm, Berkshire, NY
Hands-on instruction and practice in on-farm slaughter, processing and packaging of broilers (chickens) and/or ducks. Limited to two trainees per session. Instructors:Michael and Karma Glos. Cost: $60-$80. Voluntary Sliding Scale. To register send email to info@groundswellcenter.org. We will notify you of slaughter dates as they are scheduled.
Organic Sheep Dairy Intensive
Sunday, Aug 18, 10 AM – 4 PM. Northland Sheep Dairy, Marathon, NY
An in-depth,full-day program for those with a serious interest in grazing, breeding and milking sheep, and producing farmstead cheese as a profitable small-scale business. Sheep producers, cheesemakers, and others interested in learning about certifiable organic systems are encouraged to attend. Understand market opportunities and production requirements. Get your questions answered by one of the top experts in the US on organic sheep dairying. Instructor: Maryrose Livingston 
Cost: $120-$150 Voluntary Sliding Scale. To register email info@groundswellcenter.org.
Draft Horse Intensive
Part I: Saturday, Sept 14, 10 AM – 4PM. Part II: Sunday, Sept 15, 10 AM – 4PM. Northland Sheep Dairy, Marathon, NY
A hands-on practicum for the beginning teamster or serious wannabe. Learn to think like a horse. You may sign up for both days, or just for Part I. Prerequisites: Some experience with horses and permission of Instructor. Instructor: Donn Hewes. Cost: Part I only: $120-$150. Part I & Part II: $200-$250, Voluntary Sliding Scale. To apply for this course email info@groundswellcenter.org.
Hog Breeding & Farrowing Intensive
Monday Sep 16, 10 AM – 4 PM. Kingbird Farm, Berkshire, NY

An in-depth, full-day program for those thinking about getting into breeding hogs and farrowing your own piglets in a pasture-based system. Economics, breeding stock, management, facilities, markets… Get all your questions answered by one of the region’s leading experts in organic pasture-pig systems. Instructor: Karma Glos 
Cost: $120-$150 Voluntary Sliding Scale. To register email info@groundswellcenter.org.

Cheesemaking Practicum
Part I: Sunday, Oct 6, 9 AM – 3 PM Part II: Monday Oct 7, 2 PM – 4 PM Northland Sheep Dairy, Marathon, NY

Hands-on instruction and practice in making artisanal cheese on a commercial farmstead scale. Learn about the fermentation process, milk qualities, cultures, finding and using farmstead-scale equipment, regulations, economics and markets. Part II is optional for those who can attend and includes preparing the molded cheeses for aging in the Northland cheese cave. Instructor: Maryrose Livingston 

Understanding and Managing Weeds

Understanding and Managing Weeds

Wednesday June 26, 5-8 PM, West Haven Farm, Ithaca, NY

Basics of weed biology & organic management strategies for vegetable farmers. Specific crop & weed issues. Tractor and hand cultivation techniques used at West Haven Farm for including flame weeding, stale seed beds, mulches and crop rotation. Instructor: Todd McLane, West Haven Farm Manager 
Cost: $45-$60 Voluntary Sliding Scale. To register email info@groundswellcenter.org.

Grazing Basics

Grazing Basics

Wednesday July 3, 5-8 PM, Northland Sheep Dairy, Marathon, NY

Basic principles and practices of intensive rotational grazing systems including forage biology, grazing behavior, stocking rates, paddock and lane design, moving animals, fencing and watering systems. 
Instructors: Troy “The Grass Whisperer” Bishopp, Grazing Specialist with Madison County Soil & Water Conservation District, and Maryrose Livingston, Grass Farmer 
Cost: $45-$60 Voluntary Sliding Scale. To register email info@groundswellcenter.org.

Grass-Fed Sheep Farming Basics

Grass-Fed Sheep Farming Basics

Sunday July 7, 1-4 PM, Northland Sheep Dairy, Marathon, NY

Fundamentals of sheep biology and behavior; opportunities and challenges for profitable organic sheep farming; basics of care, feeding, housing, parasite control, breeding, lambing, processing and marketing. Instructor: Maryrose Livingston, Sheep Farmer 
Cost: $45-$60 Voluntary Sliding Scale. To register email info@groundswellcenter.org.

Understanding & Managing Vegetable Pests & Diseases

Understanding & Managing Vegetable Pests & Diseases

Wednesday July 10, 5-8 PM, West Haven Farm, Ithaca, NY

Learn to identify some key diseases and pests of vegetables and practice scouting a variety of vegetable crops. Organic control methods and problem-solving for real life farm pest situations. 
Instructor: Todd McLane, West Haven Farm Manager 
Cost: $45-$60 Voluntary Sliding Scale. To register email info@groundswellcenter.org.