FARMer training program

Learn more about our Brand new Program

We are excited to pilot the Farmer Training Program for aspiring farmers who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). The program will launch in the Spring of 2021!  We are humbled to be on this journey as we craft and design a program that is accessible for a wide variety of people.  Since 2021 is the first year of the program, the information listed below includes the current details of the program, but is subject to change slightly as things are still being finalized. 

Through the creative efforts of our multicultural Farmer Advisory Committee, the voices and input of BIPOC people have been and continue to be centered in the process of creating this new Training Program. We hope this program begins to address some of the barriers that exist with reconnecting to the land and pursuing agriculture as a BIPOC person.

Groundswell is a white-led organization that is actively committed to creating a more equitable and just food system. We are actively working towards becoming an organization that is anti-racist, but we are not there yet.  Our Staff, Board, and Equity and Accountability Committee are slowly moving Groundswell closer to its equity statement goals put out three years ago.  We are funded primarily through federal grants, a significant amount of which are supporting this program for the next 2 seasons.

We are all in the learning process together.  The first year of this program will be flexible, facing the uncertainty of our times.  Amid protests, uprisings, and Covid-19, we strive to create an environment that welcomes feedback, nurtures our participants, and values the joy that comes with growing healthy and sustainable communities from the soil up. 

Thank you for considering being a part of this journey with us.

-Holly, Giavanna, the entire Farmer Advisory Committee, and the Groundswell staff

host farmers meet

Photo Above: 2021 Host Farmers meet to design the new program.

"Our hope is people leave the program seeing farming as a revolutionary act that can change the way they view the world and work towards repairing the personal, environmental and social devastation that our current systems have created." - Farmer Advisory Committee

Program Goals

To empower BIPOC people who aspire to connect to the land, through a financially compensated part-time program. Participants gain hands-on experience working on a diverse range of farm enterprises run and owned by BIPOC farmers in the Finger Lakes/Haudenosaunee region. Participants learn about land-based efforts, and gain basic skills that lead to a deeper understanding of what it means to be self-sufficient and/or get an entry-level job in the agricultural field.  Participants leave the program knowing how to grow food from starting seed to saving seed, gain experience working with livestock, have exposure to a wide range of agricultural practices, and have enough information, resources, and mentorship to pursue their next steps on their journey into agriculture.  

Why is this program Black, Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) focused?

We are committed to equity in the food system and for Groundswell that means highlighting the voices of BIPOC farmers and communities who have historically and currently continue to be systematically discriminated against.  We believe that Black Lives Matter, and as a white-led organization, we must center black and brown bodies if we are to begin to see equitable shifts in our food system and society at large.  We received a Beginner Farmer Rancher Development Program Grant from the USDA to support “socially disadvantaged people” in the food system.  The USDA defines this specifically as, “a group whose members have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities. Those groups include African Americans, American Indians or Alaskan natives, Hispanics, and Asians or Pacific Islanders.” In addition to meeting our grant requirements, we believe that the majority of this funding must go to the people it was intended to serve. We are still falling short with this goal, as a portion of this funding does go to our white leadership and overall organizational budgetary needs.  The rest of the funding goes directly to BIPOC community farming efforts.

What will I learn?

Participants are exposed to a wide variety of topics and farming practices. Participants learn how land-based knowledge can lead to food and economic sovereignty and land-based healing. An emphasis is made on organic, regenerative agriculture, holistic livestock management, the historical and current inequities in the food system, and how to be an active participant in the struggle to transform the injustices that exist.

Is this program right for me?

This program is designed for someone with little to no experience in agriculture. This program is developed through a multicultural lens to create an environment inclusive of the BIPOC community and people from poor and working-class backgrounds to honor their histories and experiences. 

This is a 6-Month Compensated Apprenticeship Position in Groundswell’s Farmer Training Program.

2021 Program Dates: The Program starts Tuesday, March 30th and runs until September 30th.

 At this time applications are closed for the 2021 season.


If you are interested in financially supporting this program directly, please click the button below and include “Farmer Training Program” in the comments section while making a gift.


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).