Prepping the Ground!: Starting Work on Groundswell's Incubator Farm

The Groundswell Incubator pond site.

by Devon Van Noble

We’re thrilled to announce that field work on the Incubator site at EcoVillage has begun!  On June 23rd, Groundswell volunteer Jeff Gilmore from EcoVillage started brush-hogging a 3-acre section of the 10 acres designated for the project. In the coming weeks, Melissa Madden of The Good Life Farm is going to do the heavy work of plowing and discing the field for the first time in… too many years.  She and Jeff are doing a tremendous service for Groundswell by taking care of all of this initial field work.  Melissa will also be helping us put a nice cover crop on the ground by fall, probably some hearty rye that we’ll plow under at the start of the 2013 season to warm the beds up for the first group of trainees!  Additional sections will be cleared this fall using larger equipment to make space for infrastructure, such as a hoophouse and sheds.

After months of communication with consultants, neighbors, and regulators exploring different options for the Incubator site’s water supply, the Incubator team has determined that simply expanding the current West Haven Farm pond (just north of the Incubator site) is the simplest and most sensible solution.  John, Jen, and Todd of West Haven Farm have generously agreed to share this water supply with Groundswell, but there will be secure metering systems installed to help manage this common resource carefully. Creating a water supply has been one of the most intensive parts of developing this farmland, especially because of other interests that need to be considered. Readers who plan to develop land in the future would be wise to start evaluating your water source early in your design process.

If you’ve been up to EcoVillage in the past several weeks, you’ll notice that we aren’t the only ones working the land this summer.  The groundwork for the third neighborhood at EcoVillage, TREE, is well on its way.  In fact, it turns out that Groundswell will be using some of the same excavating equipment from the TREE project for developing the area, including the Incubator’s pond site.

To learn more about the Incubator design process, visit our website.

You can help build the Incubator!

Help us grow new opportunities for beginning farmers in our community!  By supporting the Farm Enterprise Incubator, you’ll be helping landless aspiring farmers take the first steps towards launching a viable farm business. The year, Groundswell will be using a crowd-funding platform, Kickstarter, to launch a 2-month fundraising campaign to pay for many of the elements of the Incubator’s infrastructure. By participating in our Kickstarter campaign, you’ll be able to specify which component of the site you wish to support, and you’ll also receive food & farm gifts for making a donation (so keep an eye out, because there will be some good “farm and food” perks for your participation!).  We will be kicking off this FUN-raising campaign at Groundswell’s first annual Food & Farm Festival in October.  The Festival will be your chance to see the Incubator Farm firsthand and show your support.

Want to make an in-kind contribution? The Incubator site can use sheds, fencing, hoophouses, wood and insulation to build a Cool Bot Cooler, and lightly-worn farm tools among other items.  If you or someone you know has items they believe would be of use for the program or Groundswell trainees, please have them contact us at, or call 607-277-0180.