Meet the Farmers:
2020 Growers at the Incubator Farm
In 2020, the farm is filled to capacity supporting 11 farming operations, with approximately 25 individuals including partners and family directly involved in the growing.
This year, 8 of the 11 enterprises are refugee-owned and specialize in producing Southeast Asian vegetable varieties. Growers have 1/8 - 1/2 acre in production. Through this program, growers benefit from: (1) launching or growing their business, (2) gaining supplemental income through sales, (3) feeding themselves and their family, and for the refugee growers, (4) selling/sharing culturally significant foods with the community that are otherwise not available locally.
Poe Htoo & Paw Beler
Poe Htoo and Paw Beler are in their 4th year in program. This year, Poe Htoo is starting to grow new specialty crops for wholesale through Headwater Food Hub. Paw Beler is taking a class to learn to grow mushrooms, and hopes to bring her knew knowledge to share with the other Incubator Farmers.
Eh De Wah
Eh De works with his wife Si Si and his mom. They spent their first year focusing on improving their growing techniques. His three adorable children often visit the Incubator Farm!
Flowersmith Farm focuses on sustainably-grown, specialty cut flowers for flower lovers all over the Finger Lakes Region. Owner, Alison, is entering her 4th year. This year, she has diminished her acreage and is transitioning to growing at her new home and reconsidering her business goals.
Paw Pha has been growing at the Incubator for 6 years, and played a major role in recruiting and supporting the other refugee farmers. He grows Southeast Asian veggies which he has sold via CSA, wholesale, and at market. He is starting to grow new crops for wholesale through Headwater Food Hub this year.
Sea Nee Sow
Sea Nee Sow and his wife Gaw Paw are entering their 4th year with Groundswell. Sea Nee Sow grew up in a farming family growing rice, beans, vegetables, fruit, peanuts, sesame seeds, and raising cows and chickens. He worked in sawmills while in refugee camps in Thailand and now works in an Ithaca sawmill.
Ability in Bloom
Ability in Bloom is a social enterprise program of Challenge Workforce Solutions. Through 1/4 acre flower production, they provide work skills training for a dedicated group of 20 adults with barriers to employment. They sell through a 40-member flower CSA.
Eh Say & Ka Leet
After several years at the Incubator, Eh Say has expanded into a new plot with her husband Ka Leet. She grows vegetables and also has a love for flowers. Ka Leet's mom has been coming out to the farm to help, and he says he has learned a lot from her.
William and his wife Naw Poe Htoo moved to Ithaca in 2007 and have four young children. William is interested in learning to grow vegetables in greenhouses and high tunnels. In his third year, he is also starting to grow wholesale crops for Headwater Food Hub.
Eh Hser grows Southeast Asian crops on 1/4 acre (year 5). Most of his produce has been for consumption and preservation by his family, but he is interested in selling his vegetables as well. Recently, Eh Hser started growing cilantro, squash, leeks, and other veggies for sale.
Surik was the first Incubator Farm graduate. He grows vegetables, fruits, and nursery trees at his home in Ithaca and on various small leased plots around town. In 2019, he planted a 75-tree orchard at the Incubator Farm!
Ti Hla does not have her own plot at the Incubator Farm but is out working in the fields nearly every day supporting her family members who grow at the Farm including her son Paw Pha (1 of Ti Hla's 16 children), and her brother Poe Htoo.
Gil's Honey Bees
Gil’s Honeybees is a small, family-owned apiary in Ithaca, NY, managed by Naama and Gil Menda. They have beehives at several EcoVillage farms, and are in the process of moving their Incubator Farm hives to a new location. Although they are not enrolled in Groundswell Programs, their bees will continue to pollinate our crops.
Plew Wah has been visiting the incubator farm for several years to help his friends and brother, Eh De Wah, with their plots. This year, Plew Wah took on his own 1/4 acre plot, and immediately became fully involved in the farm. His crops are looking beautiful, and he is already selling his produce and driving the tractor.
Taylor came to the Incubator Farm with a background in biodynamic farming and permaculture. She grew herbs and vegetables on the farm for two years and is still actively involved locally in land-based pursuits. We're always happy to see Taylor at Groundswell events—she is also on our board now!
Ye Myint grew up on a 2-acre grapefruit farm in Burma. While at the Incubator Farm, Ye was a Sushi chef and grew vegetables for his business.
As a child, Damon was exposed to farming via his family in Bermuda. When he moved to Ithaca in 2004, he worked on several local farms, started a fresh veggie juice business, and ultimately founded Roots Rising, a gardening education program for kids.
Jenn was only enrolled in the program for one-year but used that time to experiment with veggie crops which she now grows on her homestead / farm Heritage Haus Farm in Berkshire, NY.
Khin Khin and his wife, grew on 1/8 acre at the Incubator Farm for several years. Besides growing beautiful vegetables, Khin Khin often supported the other farmers and the Farm Manager via language interpretation.