From the Field: June CRAFT Tour at Westhaven

From the Field: June CRAFT Tour at Westhaven

What were you doing this past Father’s Day? Well, whatever you were doing, just remember you missed out on CRAFT – West Haven where you could’ve been picking sweet, sweet strawberries…

Sunday June 19, 2016

Now what is CRAFT? C.R.A.F.T., Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training, is a cooperative model for sharing complementary farm training in collaboration with participating farms. Participants visit a host farm for a tour, a talk, or demonstration on a specific topic. These visits offer beginning farmers a chance to see how different operations work, to develop practical skills and to network with other farmers and farm interns.

Finger Lakes CRAFT was initiated by the Groundswell Center in 2010. Our CRAFT group was developed through the guidance of our mentor farms and they have helped sustain these meetings over the years by leading exciting, interactive sessions that continue to inspire the next farming generations.

West Haven Farm was started by John and Jen Bokaer-Smith in 1992 and has been serving the community since the early ‘90s by growing NOFA-NY Certified Organic produce for the farm’s CSA and the Ithaca farmer’s market.

Seth of West Haven farm talking strawberries in the field at the CRAFT tour in June.

The first part of our tour was led by Seth, West Haven’s farm manager. He showed us around the heart of West Haven’s operation, the veggies.  We explored everything from the solanaceae in the hoop-houses to the strawberries in the fields

Seth also gave us a taste of the decision making process at a CSA. West Haven is dedicated to and is here to serve its community throughout the growing season. Part of that dedication requires its 10 acres to be in production for most of the year so customers can get what they need.

Without much of a break over the past two decades, West Haven has developed a nasty weed seed bank. Seth showed us what the farm has been doing to control the weeds, but they persist.  As a Certified Organic producer, West Haven has had trouble finding land nearby to rent and utilize that fits into the Organic requirements.

Next year, West Haven is going to be able to move some of its production to another

Chris, West Haven orchard manager talks trees with our CRAFT tour attendees.

site at EcoVillage, giving its main ten acres a well-deserved break.

Chris, West Haven’s orchard manager, rounded out the tour by teaching us about apple tree growth patterns and how to effectively prune fruit trees. We even got a taste of early cherries!

On the recent events in MN and LA…

Here at Groundswell our hearts are heavy this morning with the pain of the murders of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Minneapolis at the hands of the police. We are saddened, disheartened and angry along with so many in our community near and far. We send love and solidarity to the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and join in the call for justice resonating around the country.
While it is easy to feel helpless in times like these, Ithacans will be coming together in community to express grief, anger, hope, and solidarity tomorrow afternoon. Black Lives Matter Ithaca has organized a rally and march from Southside Community Center (305 S Plain Street) beginning at 4:15PM. We hope to see some of you there.
With ongoing commitment to a safe and just world for all,
Groundswell Staff


Faces of Groundswell: Steve Selin

Faces of Groundswell: Steve Selin

Steve SelinsteveselinfromFLCH

South Hill Cider & Groundswell Alumnus

by Ben Roosa, Groundswell Volunteer


“The Finger Lakes Cider House is an excellent example of collaborative artists achieving something that would not be possible alone.” That’s what Steve Selin of South Hill Cider had to say about the exciting new establishment perched above Cayuga Lake’s Western shore.

Steve has no shortage of hats to wear.  He is the self-proclaimed owner, fermentation gnome, apple hunter and orchardist for South Hill Cider, one of five partner cideries involved with the Finger Lakes Cider House.  He is also an active musician and luthier (someone who makes and/or repairs string instruments), as well as a proud alumni of Groundswell’s Holistic Organic Orchard Management program in 2014.

Participating in the Orchard Management program provided Steve with the opportunity to meet and learn from experienced local orchardists and tour their orchards.  Now, after 10 years of cider-making using mostly wild apples and forgotten orchards supplemented with select varieties from other orchards, he has planted his own orchard with over 900 trees, some of which he grafted and grew out himself.  With this new endeavor, we can look forward to more excellent cider from South Hill Cider!

If you’d like to check out the Finger Lakes Cider House and try some of Steve’s cider, Groundswell invites everyone to our Good Afternoon at Good Life Farm event on August 15 from 2-5pm.  There will be delicious local fare, hand-crafted ciders, farm and cidery tours, and lots of family fun!  We hope to see you there!

Groundswell’s Good Afternoon

Groundswell’s Good Afternoon


Enjoy fabulous food and family fun on the farm while benefiting Groundswell’s new farmer training programs!

Eventbrite - Groundswell's Good Afternoon at Good Life Farm

Do something different! Treat yourself to a fun and delicious afternoon on one of the most fascinating and innovative farms in the Finger Lakes. Good Life Farm in Interlaken is one of Groundswell’s Partner Farms. Working with draft horses, Melissa Madden and Garrett Miller grow organic apples, peaches, asparagus, ginger, veggies, turkeys, and beef. Their latest project is the fabulous new Finger Lakes Cider House, a state of the art cider brewing facility shared with four other local cider makers.

Bring friends and family! Take a horse-drawn tour the organic orchards and greenhouses. Check out the grazing turkeys and beef cattle. Upstairs in the Cidery, enjoy a flight of distinctive ciders crafted by local farm-based cider makers, and try pairing them with an array of local farmstead cheeses, hand-crafted charcuterie, artisanal breads and spreads. Then explore the actual workings of the cidery below, learn how fine ciders are made, and get the latest on the cider renaissance that’s happening now in the Finger Lakes.

Enjoy extra bonuses from our business partners!

Farm-to-Table Raffle. Don’t miss the raffle! It’s your chance to snag some great local farm products, garden gadgets, kitchen tools and lots of other goodies while benefiting the Groundswell Center’s new farmer training programs. You can purchase raffle tickets at the event itself or by calling us at 607-319-5095.

Special Deals for Locavores. Your ticket includes sweet offers from three of our local business partners! After our event – or any time – head on down to Bandwagon Brewpub in Ithaca for a 10% discount on dinner and brews. Visit Cayuga Lake Creamery in Interlaken for a discount on their handcrafted gourmet ice creams. Take a tour of Lively Run Dairy and get discounts on local artisanal cheeses. Pick up your coupons at our event, and use them any time.

Eventbrite - Groundswell's Good Afternoon at Good Life Farm


From the Director: May 2015

From the Director: May 2015

Many thanks to the fabulous crowd of Groundswell supporters who came to our Spring Mixer on May 15! It was a blast! Thanks also to Iron Owl Kitchen for the fantastic spread, to Hopshire Farm & Brewery for outstanding brews, and to The Mad Goats for non-stop, foot stompin’ live music!

The event was the kick off to our Spring Membership Drive (link to Join page, which we should update) If you’re not yet a Groundswell Member, please consider joining today. Right now we’re offering some special deals for new and returning Members:

  • 25% off all farm & food books at Home Green Home, your local source for green living goods and sustainable furnishings.
  • $10 off Wide Awake Bakery CRUST FUND Breadshare – pay only $40 for 10 pick-ups!
  • 10% off all purchases of locally handcrafted herbal products from Rootwork Herbals!
  • 10% off Celia’s Ice Pops orders of 20 or more for your July 4th celebration. Enjoy the Finger Lakes’ first handcrafted ice pops made from scratch with fresh fruit in season from the region’s farms & vineyards – chocolate, too!


Member Benefits

  • With your Groundswell Membership you get not only the satisfaction of helping to build a stronger local food system, you also get:
  • Tuition discounts on selected Groundswell programs
  • Admission to Groundswell Member Only Events like our monthly Homestead Farmers & Gardeners gatherings
  • Monthly E-Newsletter
  • Groundswell Swag – a snazzy Groundswell Sticker AND Groundswell Button!


Membership Options

  • Individual Membership: $25
  • Low Income/Student Membership: $15
  • Family or Farm Business Membership: The first individual in the family or farm business costs $25, then $15 for each additional individual.


Join online or send your check or money order, payable to Grounds well-CTA, to: Groundswell Center, P.O. Box 6679, Ithaca, NY 14851

Your Groundswell Membership will help support programs which have helped hundreds of aspiring farmers, homesteaders, and food citizens to gain the skills and access to resources they need. Thank you for being part of this Groundswell!

Joanna Green


Forget-Me-Not Farm will host October Homesteaders gathering

Forget-Me-Not Farm will host October Homesteaders gathering
PrintE-mailSunday, October 12, 3:30-5:30 PM, Candor, NY

Don’t miss our last Homestead Farmers & Gardeners Gathering of the 2014 season. Homesteaders Gatherings are free for registered Groundswell Members. Email to sign up.Jennifer and Dean Whitmore have built their lives and their Candor homestead farm around family. They’re a home schooling family with nine children, several adopted. The kids are very involved in 4-H, and raise a variety of livestock.The Whitmores raises much of their own food, and also supply the bed and breakfast on the farm. They raise 2 heritage sheep breeds, Jacob and Hog Island. They sell yarn, fiber, lambskins, ramps, onions, lettuce, greens, summer squash, tomatoes, winter squash varieties, garlic and sunflowers at the Caroline Farmers Market. Along with the farm, the family also runs Small Graces B&B, a green built, private Bed and Breakfast cottage, in a woods setting. They gather wood and do the plowing with a Morgan horse and a team of Haflingers. 
They love having the flexibility that a home-based business provides.  It allows Jenn to be a full time mom, and the children are involved in all aspects of the homestead.  As described in their online listing with Natural Choice Vacations: “The farm is home to Jacob and Jacob/cross sheep, a guard donkey named Whiskey, four horses and a pony, organically raised poultry and pigs. They raise several rare and heritage breeds of poultry. Lambs and organic pork is available in the fall.  Jenn is a fiber artist, and her six children are in training!  They spin, knit and felt using their own wool and other various fibers as well.  Their oldest daughter, Blessing, also designed an earache pillow using wool with a little lanolin stuffed inside. This pillow soothes ear infections and is a best seller at the farm shop and at festivals.” Jennifer says, “On October 12 we can see and discuss the B&B that we built. It’s a good source of income for a homestead. Also the greenhouse, the types of animals we chose to raise to complement a homestead and the balance that we strive for there. The gardens will be done for the year, but we can brush on how they have changed and developed also.”