tractor intensive

tractor intensive_revised_web

This course is open to anyone who experiences gender oppression - cis and trans women, trans men, and Two Spirit, non-binary, and gender non-conforming folks.

Dates: Monday October 17 and Tuesday October 18

Day one: Intro to Tractors 9a-4p

Day two: Field Practice

Two options for registration: Registration is available for the full course (both days) or just Day One: Intro to Tractors. For safety and the need for one-on-one attention, we are able to offer only 6 spots for the full course that includes Day two: Field Practice. We're offering 15 spots for Day One: Intro to Tractors, which will include thorough education on tractor use, maintenance, and mechanics. If you're unsure which option to register for, feel free to email for more information.

Description: We're thrilled to welcome Sarah Groat of Rock Steady Farm to the Finger Lakes region and the Groundswell Incubator Farm! They'll spend two days teaching this intensive course on tractor use, mechanics, and maintenance, with an emphasis on safety throughout.

Day one will be an interactive learning experience including a close look at a tractor and its components, addressing some of the following questions:

--- How does an engine work? What about a transmission, clutch, and differential?

--- What are the parts of the tractor and what are their functions? (PTO, three point hitch, radiator, alternator, etc.)

--- What are the safety procedures before and during tractor operation?

--- How can we avoid hazardous situations due to field conditions, unsafe operation, and mechanical issues? What are the most common causes for injury/fatality?

--- How do we perform pre-operational checks before operating the tractor? (Check oil level, grease fittings, check coolant, etc.)

--- What routine maintenance needs to be performed? And what happens if it's neglected?

Day two will consist of one-on-one driving practice in 90-minute sessions and review of concepts from Day 1. Each participant will get a chance to practice pre-operational checks and operate a tractor in the field under sg's supervision. Practice will be adapted to each participant's comfort level and pace, and will include some or all of the following: starting the tractor, driving straight, reversing, changing gears, and hitching and unhitching a 3-point hitch implement.

Instructors: Sarah (sg/she/they) is an independent tractor mechanic/educator and tractor operator at Rock Steady Farm.
Since 2018,  they've been providing timely, honest and affordable service and repair work and teaching new farmers how to operate and maintain equipment in the Hudson Valley. Over the past 14 years of growing vegetables, making compost, and teaching adults and kids, she has been developing her knack for operating and fixing equipment. Since starting her business, Sarah has found a real passion for training queer, trans, Black, Indigenous, people of color, women and non-binary farm workers about tractor safety and operation. Rock Steady is a queer* owned and operated cooperative vegetable farm rooted in social justice, food access and farmer training. Kimberly Wiman (she/her) is the Groundswell course coordinator.

tractor intensive_instructors_sg2

Cost: Sliding scale (see details at bottom of page)

Time: Day one is 9a-4p with breaks for lunch and snack. Each participant on Day two will get a time slot of 90 minutes of guided practice driving a tractor with one-on-one supervision from an instructor. The rest of the day will consist of review and practice of concepts learned on Day 1. Out of town participants may be scheduled earlier in the day in case they need to begin travel early.

Location: Groundswell Incubator Farm, 24 Helens Way, Ithaca, NY 14850 (TCAT 20 bus line)

Facilities: The Groundwell Incubator Farm is a 4-acre working farm located outside of Ithaca, NY. Restrooms consist of ungendered port-a-potties. Learning spaces will include a small open air barn, covered pavilion, and open areas on the farm. Seating will be available in some but not all areas. There is running potable water, a cooler, a microwave, and a wash station for washing dishes. The farm has grass walkways and uneven and possibly muddy terrain - it is not wheelchair accessible.

Food: We’ll provide light lunches on both days. We invite you to bring a dish or drink to share, though it's not at all required.

Childcare: We don't have childcare arranged for this workshop. If childcare is a barrier for you please contact

Transportation: We'll facilitate carpooling between participants. Additionally, the TCAT 20 bus to Enfield is a 25 minute ride from downtown Ithaca to the entrance of Ecovillage. From the entrance of Ecovillage it's a 10 minute walk to the Incubator Farm.

What to bring: your own plate and utensils, a dish to share (optional), water bottle, closed toed shoes for Day 2, clothing that’s comfortable to move around in, sun hat/sunscreen as needed

Sliding scale fees:

Full course, both days: $60-325

Day 1: Intro to Tractors $40-160

Consider paying the solidarity option ($60 for full course, $40 for Day 1) if you...

Identify as Black, Indigenous, or a Person of Color
have difficulty affording your basic needs such as food, transportation, medical care, and childcare, and/or don’t always manage to meet these needs
are unemployed or have a low income
receive public assistance

Consider paying the reduced fee ($150 for full course, $80 for Day 1) if you...

can typically afford your basic needs but have little expendable income or savings
have significant debt or medical expenses not covered by insurance
are supporting children or have other dependents
are a senior on a limited, fixed income

Consider paying the full fee ($250 for full course, $130 for Day 1) or full fee + donation ($325 for full course, $160 for Day 1) if you...

can comfortably and consistently afford your basic needs
own the home you live in
have personal savings, investments, retirement accounts, or inherited wealth
travel recreationally
have access to family money and resources in times of need
have a relatively high degree of earning power due to level of education (or gender and racial privilege, class background, etc.) Even if you are not currently exercising your earning power, we ask you to recognize this as a choice
would like to contribute towards programs at Groundswell including supporting costs of childcare, transportation, interpretation, and sliding scale options

COVID-19: In prioritizing health and safety during the pandemic, this workshop may require health precautions such as mask wearing or rapid testing on site, and may be cancelled or rescheduled in case of concerns related to COVID-19, in which case any payments will be refunded. This workshop will be held in an outdoor space and small open air structures.

Weather: If there are weather conditions that may jeopardize the safety of participants and instructors or inhibit the ability to learn tractor operation, we may cancel or reschedule either Day 2 or the full course.

Cancellation policy: As we organize this small scale workshop including coordinating people's efforts to provide childcare, transportation, and meals for the group, we ask that you respect the time and energy of the team of people involved by communicating promptly if your plans/circumstances have changed and you need to cancel. Cancellations within 72 hours of the workshop will not be provided a refund except in cases of medical, COVID-19 related, or other serious circumstances. Prompt communication also allows us to offer limited spots to people on the waitlist. Thank you for your understanding.

If you have any questions please email education coordinator Kimberly at