Reskilling Upstate New York

Groundswell Center offers organic farming classes for aspiring farmers and homesteaders

Are we experiencing another “Back to the Land” movement here in upstate New York? The folks at the Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming think so.  People of all ages, colors, and backgrounds are getting serious about growing food. Groundswell is offering a whole season of workshops and classes for these beginning farmers and homesteaders.  

“We’re part of a growing movement that some people call reskilling,” says Joanna Green, Director of Groundswell.  “Reskilling is all about helping people and communities become more self-reliant in providing basics like food and fiber.” Groundswell is especially focused on engaging people of color, immigrants, refugees, and those with limited financial resources in this movement.

“We’re building a multi-cultural support network for beginning farmers, market gardeners, homesteaders, and other entrepreneurs in the food system,” says Green. “We need to create resilient, regional systems that meet everyone’s need for good food and economic opportunity.”

Groundswell courses are taught by experienced local farmers, and provide hands-on training in organic food production.  Although the workshops focus on what it takes to be successful on a small-scale commercial basis, the same skills and knowledge also apply to the non-commercial “homestead” farm. Groundswell has openings in the following upcoming classes:

Ecological Farm Design
Ecological Farm Design is taught in two sessions by Melissa Madden and Garrett Miller of the Good Life Farm in Interlaken, NY.  The course provides a framework for “reading the land” and making good decisions about land use that balance the needs of human people and all the other people.
“This course is designed to help you think about how to develop a piece of land as a productive resource while respecting natural systems and wildlife,” says Green.  “We talk about how to understand and work with topography, water flow, soil types, biodiversity, and microclimate. Where to put buildings, fences, driveways, ponds, and other infrastructure. It’s really helpful for folks who have land that they want to use wisely, as well as for those looking for a piece of land.”

Ecological Farm Design runs 5-8 PM Wednesdays, May 29 and June 5. The cost is $90 for both sessions.To register call 607-319-5095 or send email 

Understanding and Managing Soils
Groundswell’s two-part Soils class provides a foundational understanding of the physical, chemical and biological properties of soil, and strategies for managing soils for maximum biological activity. Taught by Barb Neal, Certified Arborist, Green Legacy Tree Consultants and Paul Martin, Farmer, Sweet Land Farm, the course combines class-room training with hands-on training at the Groundswell Incubator Farm. 
The Soils course includes 2 sessions, 5-8 PM Wednesdays June 12 and 19The cost is $90 for both sessions.  To register call 607-319-5095 or send email 

And much more
Other upcoming workshops include a whole series on Organic Vegetable Production, Grazing Basics, Grass-Fed Sheep, Pastured Poultry Basics, Grass-Fed Beef, Pastured Pigs. Tuition assistance is available for those with limited resources. For more information visit or call 607-319-5095, or send an email