Groundswell's Incubator Farm welcomes New Americans

AP reporter Mary Esch interviews
Ye Myint, originally from Burma

We’re fortunate to have people from all over the world living right here in Tompkins County. Many come here to teach or to study. But for others, leaving their home country was a matter of survival, not choice.

Thankfully, there are organizations, teachers, sponsors, and church-based groups who are helping to connect refugees and other New Americans with the things they need to create a new life here in Tompkins County.

Many New Americans bring a huge amount of farming experience from their home countries. The community gardens in Ithaca have long provided an opportunity to grow food, including favorite items from their home cuisine that aren’t available in local stores. And now the Groundswell Incubator Farm offers New Americans the opportunity to grow even more food for their families, their communities, and the marketplace.

ESL students admiring Ye’s gongura and water spinach crops at the Farm.

To get the word out about the Incubator Farm, we’ve been working with English as a Second Language programs at TST BOCES and Tompkins Learning Partners. We’ve made several visits to ESL classes, and last week about 25 students from the TST-BOCES ESL program took a field trip to learn about the Groundswell Incubator Farm.

Even on such a gray and rainy day, the students were smiling and excited to see the Incubator Farm, and they were filled with questions about how the Farm works.  We are so grateful for the enthusiasm of all the students and teachers, and very hopeful that some may be interested and able to farm with Groundswell in the 2015 season. In any case, they will be spreading the word in their communities.

For more information about the Groundswell Incubator Farm and how you can support our work with New American farmers, please contact us at