Looking Back to Look Ahead

Groundswell is: “one of those visionary organizations that recognize that the legacy of 10,000 years of agrarian practice must be questioned and changed if we’re to sustain our climate, soil, air, water, and our aspirational democracy.”

-Jay Smith, Equity and Accountability Committee

10 years of building an equitable and just food system in the Finger Lakes.

September 2019 marks the 10th anniversary of Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming. When the organization was founded in 2009, there was a groundswell (pun intended) of young people starting to farm, and a need for more resources to support these new growers.

Looking back over the last decade, Groundswell has succeeded in supporting beginning farmers while collaborating to build a more just, regenerative food system. Systems-change can become a reality when working closely with a network of regional partners, supporters, businesses, farmer allies, food justice organizations, and friends.

Some major achievements to date:

  • Connected with more than 300 people in monthly Farming for Justice Discussions where farmers and farm service providers dig deep into justice-based solutions to farming’s biggest challenges
  • 120 program graduates launched businesses
  • Joined the new Land Access Reparations & Reconciliation Working Group as an organizational partner
  • Launched a matched savings program for farmers of color in partnership with Alternatives Federal Credit Union
Harvesting Roselle, a bitter leafy green common in Burmese cooking (Sara Tro Photography)

Big plans for the farm

In the next year, Groundswell has major plans to transition the current Incubator Farm to a Community Farm that supports the refugee farmers to stay long term and continue to grow an abundance of culturally significant foods for sale and consumption. In preparation for this transition, we have launched a campaign to build a pond at the Community Farm to provide water security and reduce the cost of irrigation for the farmers. The farm currently relies on costly town water. 

The Community Farm transition has also catalyzed the search for new land for Groundswell to develop an expanded Farm Business Incubator Program, with a focus of offering low cost land access opportunities for beginning small-scale vegetable and livestock producers.

Learn more about the pond campaign and how to support the Community Farmers.

Paw Pha’s son giving his father a wild flower (Sara Tro Photography)

As Board Chair at Groundswell, I am inspired by the amazing, committed people who have helped us get to where we are today. Our Executive Director led the arduous effort to secure our nonprofit 501c3 designation in May of this year, and the entire of team of staff at Groundswell are extremely dedicated.

Above all, I know the next decade will be filled with even more opportunity for building equity and sustainability in the food system and I’m excited to be a part of it!

If you are inspired to support our work, or if you’d like to know more or get involved I’d love to hear from you!  Contact me at 607-319-5095 or via email at info@groundswellcenter.org.

-Jonathan Bates
Chair, Board of Directors