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January 2011 Newsletter

From the Director

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Groundswell's Farm Enterprise Incubator, located at EcoVillage, will provide opportunities for aspiring farmers like these Finger Lakes CRAFT interns, and urban market gardeners who need access to land.

It's not too late to contribute to Groundswell's Farm Enterprise Incubator campaign!!!

Hey all you local foods fans... We have great news to share! Folks just like you have stepped up to the plate with over $12,000 in contributions towards our Spring campaign goal of $15,000! Way to go Groundswell boosters! This campaign is entirely for the purpose of building infrastructure for the Farm Enterprise Incubator.

If you haven't gotten around to writing your check or making that super-easy online donation, there's still time! Help us make it possible for beginning farmers and market gardeners to have affordable access to land, production facilities, support services, and ongoing mentoring from experienced farmers. You can read all about the Farm Enterprise Incubator here. Whether you can afford $5 or $5,000, your contribution will help put us over the top, and on our way towards our total goal of $45,000 for infrastructure development. And if you didn't receive a letter in the mail from us back in December, it may be that we don't have your snail-mail address. Send a message to info@groundswellcenter.org and we'll be sure to get you onto our list. Thanks!

Joanna Green, Director

ANNOUNCING: Groundswell's Sustainable Farming Certificate Program

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Trainees will be instructed by experienced farmer mentors like Todd McLane of West Haven Farm, as well as subject matter experts from our partner institutions such as Cornell University, USDA, and Cornell Cooperative Extension.

New farmer training program offers 100 hours of instruction, April to November

Groundswell is thrilled to announce the launch of our new hands-on training program for serious aspiring farmers and market gardeners. Beginning April 15 and running through November 15, the program provides 100 hours of classroom training, hands-on workshops, farm visits, and supervised work experience on sustainable farms. Instruction is provided by outstanding farmer mentors and subject matter experts from across the region.

Our flexible curriculum is geared for both entry-level trainees and more experienced beginning farmers and interns who want to deepen their knowledge of sustainable production practices and the science behind those practices. Trainees can choose to concentrate their studies on the management of vegetables, fruits, livestock, or poultry, or pursue a diversified curriculum. Each trainee will have an individualized Learning Contract, and will be evaluated on the basis of that contract before being awarded a certificate of completion. The April-November curriculum focuses on sustainable production systems and exposes trainees to a variety of successful small farm management models. A separate certificate program will be offered in the winter with a focus on business planning, management and marketing.

Groundswell is committed to the vision of a regionally self-reliant food system that provides good food and economic opportunities for everyone. We're working hard to make the program a welcoming one for trainees from diverse cultural, racial, and economic backgrounds. Minority, new immigrant and limited-resource trainees are especially encouraged to apply. Most classes will be held evenings and weekends to accommodate folks with job, family or farm responsibilities.

Tuition for the 2011 Sustainable Farming Certificate Program is just $600, and substantial scholarship support is offered. Our online application form will be available February 1. In the meantime, let us know of your interest by sending an email to info@groundswellcenter.org.

Groundswell’s New Farmer Training Program is offered in collaboration with Finger Lakes CRAFT and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, and is supported by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Grant #2010-49400-21799.

6-credit Summer Practicum now open for applications

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Students in the Summer Practicum get plenty of hands-on training as well as a challenging academic experience. And tons of fun!

8-week intensive runs June 1 - July 25

Once again we're pleased to offer our unique Summer Practicum in Sustainable Farming and Local Food Systems in cooperation with the Environmental Studies Program at Tompkins Cortland Community College. The class meets for three full days each week to explore the issues affecting sustainability of agriculture and food systems through readings, discussion, lectures, field trips, labs, and immersion in the actual work of operating a successful and sustainable small farm.

Students will spend most Mondays working and learning at West Haven Farm at EcoVillage. Farm Manager Todd McLane provides instruction in a variety of sustainable farming practices, from crop cultivation to pest and weed control, to harvest, post-harvest handling and record-keeping. On Wednesdays, the class meets at one of EcoVillage's comfortable Common Houses to interact with a stellar line-up of guest speakers from Cornell, Ithaca College, TC3, and the local community. On Fridays we hit the road and visit more local farms, food businesses, and community organizations for a close-up look at Ithaca's vibrant local food system.

We encourage students and community members from diverse cultural, racial, and economic backgrounds to consider being part of the 2011 Summer Practicum. Substantial scholarship support is available for limited resource students. Tuition for those enrolling through TC3 (in ENVS-149) is $834 for New York State residents, $1,728 for nonresidents, plus a lab fee of $250. Tuition for non-credit students enrolling directly through Groundswell is $850, which includes the lab fee. To apply, send an email to info@groundswellcenter.org and we'll direct you to our online application form.

Scholarship support provided by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Grant #2010-49400-21799.

Ithaca Crop Mob organizers will speak at NOFA Winter Conference

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This Sunday at 8 a.m., Ithaca Crop Mob organizers Katie Church and Rachel Firak will speak at the Northeast Organic Farming Association's 29th annual Winter Conference. Their presentation, entitled "Stories from the Crop Mob: Barn Raising in 2010," will discuss how the crop mob got started, how it functions, and what agricultural activism and cooperative volunteerism can offer our communities. They will be joined by Deb Taft of the New York City Crop Mob, the only other crop mob group in the state.

The conference, held from January 21st-23rd at the Saratoga Hilton in Saratoga Springs, NY, will focus this year on the theme of "Diggin' Diversity." Learn more and register...

Business Supporter Spotlight: West Haven Farm

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West Haven Farm has been an out-and-out inspiration in agriculture education and outreach from the very beginning. We want to thank West Haven not only for their support of Groundswell's programs, but for being being model farmer mentors in our community. Thank you John and Todd!

West Haven Farm is a 10-acre certified organic farm located in the town of Ithaca. We have been growing high quality fruits and vegetables since 1992. Ecovillage at Ithaca leases our parcel of land to us, and the land is held in a permanent conservation easement by the Finger Lakes Land Trust, so we know it will always be kept open for farming. Growing organic fruits and vegetables isn’t just a job for us; it’s a way of life! We want folks to get excited about their food and where it comes from. There has always been a commitment to education here, so partnering with Groundswell was a natural fit.

West Haven Farm serves as Groundswell’s primary farm “campus,” hosting Groundswell workshops and tours. In addition, WHF hosted the “lab” portion of Tompkins-Cortland Community College’s and Groundswell’s Summer Practicum: Sustainable Farming and Local Food Systems. We also serve as a mentor farm for the Finger Lakes CRAFT program.

West Haven Farm is committed to the next generation of farmers. Farm managers John Bokaer-Smith and Todd McLane both serve as Groundswell Farmer-Educators, members of the USDA project management team and Todd is also a member of the Groundswell Steering Committee. You can learn more about West Haven by visiting our website.

Barriers for beginning farmers?

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Farming is not easy! Cornell is helping us understand and address the barriers faced especially by beginning farmers.

Cornell’s Beginning Farmer Education Enhancement team has collected the responses from its first Beginning Farmer Barrier ID survey. They're now designing a second survey that will dig deeper into the needs of beginning farmers and educators. If you're one of the beginning farmers who took the survey, Cornell invites you to join in a special focus group by phone. For your participation you'll receive either a $75 honorarium or one free enrollment in one of their terrific on-line classes valued at $150. If interested contact Erica Frenay at the Cornell Small Farms Program, 607-255-9911 or ejf5@cornell.edu.

The Food Safety Modernization Act becomes law

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On Tuesday, January 4th, President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), ending a long and contentious debate about the government's role in the food system. In general, the FSMA is designed to limit the spread of foodborne illness through increased regulation. Among other things, the bill allows the Secretary of Health & Human Services and the Food & Drug Administration to more frequently inspect food processing facilities, recall tainted food, and impose stricter regulations on imported food. While most applauded the move as much-needed consumer protection, many were concerned that new regulations could put family farms and other small producers at a great disadvantage.

Thanks to the efforts of many grassroots political action groups, the FSMA we have today is far more sensitive to the needs of small- and mid-scale farms and food producers. Instead of imposing one-size-fits-all regulations, paperwork, and costs, the Tester-Hagan and other amendments ensure that our local food producers receive fair and evenhanded treatment. The result is an FSMA that most sustainable agriculture organizations are hailing as a "victory" for the local food movement and consumers in general.

According to the National Sustainable Agriculture coalition, six amendments in particular sponsored by NSAC and remain intact in the final version of the FSMA were critical in making the FSMA a better, more effective Act for small farmers... Read more...

USDA NRCS offers funding to NYS organic producers

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On January 3rd, the Natural Resources Conservation Service announced that $775,000 in funding is now available to help New York organic and transitioning producers implement soil and water conservation practices on their agricultural operations. Conservation practices can include, but are not limited to, planting cover crops, establishing grazing systems, and implementing nutrient management systems.

Participating farmers will be paid a rate for each conservation practice implemented, for up to $20,000 annually and a maximum total of $80,000 over six years. Producers who qualify as beginning, limited resource, or socially disadvantaged, will receive a higher payment rate.

Applications are accepted on a continuous basis, with the funding cutoff date set for March 4, 2011. Additional information is available at www.nrcs.usda.gov.

Help Us Build the Groundswell!

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Groundswell depends on the efforts of our volunteers and local community supporters. There are lots of ways you can get involved. To find out how you can make a donation or become one of our business supporters, click here. And please help us spread the word about Groundswell by sharing this newsletter with others. Thanks!

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Groundswell is featured in a video about Ithaca's Local Food System, created by the Agriculture Bridge Project.

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