Farmer Training Program
Program Managers & Alumni

Meet the Program Coordinators


Holly Stein

Holly (she/her) co-coordinates the Groundswell's Farmer Training program bringing her love for farming, community building, and justice . Holly has been involved in multiple farming and organizing efforts over the years, supporting the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Campaign for Fair Food and AMOR the Alliance to Mobilize our Resistance. Holly got interested in farming as an adult living in New York City working as a Youth Programs Coordinator at Project Morry.  In 2011, she moved onto a small family farm in Southern Massachusetts, where her love of growing food flourished.  Holly pursued a certificate in Ecological Horticulture at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS). As the Assistant Farm Manager at Fresh Start Farm in Lisbon, ME, Holly had the privilege of learning from immigrants and refugee farmers and supporting their farming aspirations.

(email Holly)


Giavanna Townsend

Giavanna Townsend (she/her) co-coordinates and develops Groundswell’s Farmer Training program. Giavanna is a biracial farmer and educator who began her agricultural career in her hometown of Binghamton, NY after working on the VINES urban farm in 2013. She discovered a passion for growing food and striving towards an equitable food system, and went on to participate in several farm apprenticeships throughout New York State. Giavanna rejoined the VINES staff in 2017 as the Program Assistant where she supported several urban gardening and farming programs and taught workshops on growing and preparing fresh food. In 2019 Giavanna took on the role of Assistant Farm Manager at Wild Hill Farm in Ionia, NY. Since joining the Groundswell Staff in February of 2020 Giavanna has brought together her mix of farming and programming experience to support and bring education to aspiring farmers in the Finger Lakes region.

(email Giavanna)

Meet the 2021 Alumni


 Charles Madlock

Charles Madlock (he/him) is a graphic designer and entrepreneur with a background in artist development and business marketing from Jackson, Mississippi. He became interested in farming as an adult living in Erie, PA where he had several friends with home gardens. Growing cucumbers, tomatoes, and watermelons in the backyard started his love of farming and now he is on a mission to get the tools of farming into schools and homes.

Before joining RISE Charles participated in Groundswell pilot BIPOC Farmer Training program, which immersed him into Ithaca’s food system for six months. He looks forward to enhancing food security, educating others about agriculture and connecting with the community. Charles spends his free time gardening, taking care of his plants, reading or exploring the great outdoors.

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Ritza Francois

Ritza (she/her) is a Haitian-American marketing innovator, non-profit leader, art enthusiast and compost  lover. Originally from Crown Heights Brooklyn, NY, Ritza found her way up to Ithaca as Ithaca College Student where she fell in love with Business Marketing , Management and Leadership and has been working in the community for over 10  years. She was formerly the Member Relationship Manager with the Tompkins Chamber of Commerce in Ithaca, NY where she advocated and supported over 650+ businesses annually in areas of business consulting, marketing opportunities and networking programs. She is now the Director of Development at Ithaca Children’s Garden working to provide every child the basic human right to play, learn, and grow outdoors-- something she learned how to do as a farmer apprentice with Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming!

Ritza loves to volunteer her time wherever she can. She has volunteered at Brooklyn Botanical Gardens as a Discovery Docent. She also sits on the board of the Community Arts Partnership (CAP) and is a Master Composter with Cornell Cooperative Extension. She believes that volunteering is how you meet your best friends! In her free time, you can find Ritza rock climbing and teaching folks in the community about composting, and planning her own future farm!

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Antonisha Owens

Antonisha (she/her) is the creator of AFICA 'All Freedom Is Creativity Accessorize' LLC. She's a licensed Cosmetologist, Health and Beauty Consultant, the creator of AficaPure 'Where Nature Defines Beauty!' Product line. She is the owner of AficaPure Artisan and Hair Clinique, She's also a forager and Farmer. She sources some of her ingredients through foraging and growing them. She's a beauty Queen at heart and believes that nature is the cause of all our beauty.


Follow Antonisha's Business on Instagram: @aficapureartisanhairclinique


Lo Taylor

Lo Waters (they/them) is a Southern California native, queer Black being who seeks to merge self-care with spiritual wellness, creating an embodied experience of healing. Central to this embodiment are astrology, herbal medicine, land stewardship, creativity & play, & ancestral veneration. On a path seeking & understanding Self (as well as community & home), Lo moved to Ithaca from Brooklyn in January 2020 to continue this journey, whilst simultaneously nurturing their deep desire to be closer to herbs, land, plants, & animals. Reclaiming & remembering ancestral healing practices, as well as co-existing with non-human beings, continues to drive their curiosity & passions around land-based work.


Annie Quach

Annie Quach (she/her) is an American born Chinese farmer and a food justice advocate. As a graduate of Cornell University’s Hotel School, her love of food, connecting people and creating memorable experiences led her to New York City, where she worked as a special events and catering professional with Restaurant Associates at the American Museum of Natural History. The birth of her son, Caleb sparked her desire to be closer to home and the land of the Finger Lakes region.

Annie was reminded of the healing nature of the outdoors, her love of  local, fresh food, and a locavore lifestyle so she pursued her passion by joining the opening team of Coltivare, Tompkins Cortland Community College’s bistro and culinary center focused on educating students about the food system from farm to table. As the first-generation daughter of immigrants who escaped after the Vietnam War in 1979, she has a deep empathy and curiosity for the human condition, and believes access to wholesome food is a human right. Her path shifted out of restaurant operations when she recognized that her skillset could be used to live in purpose and support her community by challenging the injustices of our capitalistic food system. That epiphany motivated Annie to take a deeper exploration of the local food system from the soil up and pursue farming through Groundswell’s BIPOC Farmer Training Program. As a graduate of their first class, Annie has found the her true calling and feels deeply aligned with her mission to open Caleb’s Community Kitchen, a safe, inclusive, culturally-relevant community space for healing the underserved people of Tompkins County through access to fresh, local, sustainably grown, nutritious meals eaten with others.

Congratulations Trainees of 2021!


This Project is funded in part by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). 

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