Friday, April 26, 2013

Want to learn how to farm? Groundswell's 2013 Sustainable Farming Courses

Groundswell Offers 2013 Sustainable Farming Programs
Ithaca, NY – 
Are you thinking about farming as a part-time or full-time livelihood? Are you looking for a solid introduction to organic farming principles, practices and business opportunities? 
The Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming is now taking applications for its 2013 Sustainable Farming Certificate Program, as well as several shorter courses.  These programs provide hands-on training in small-scale, commercial organic farming systems and are geared for beginning and aspiring farmers.   
They also appeal to serious homesteaders, agricultural science students, educators, and others who need to deepen their knowledge of sustainable production practices and gain a realistic understanding of the opportunities and challenges involved in small-scale farming.   
"We work hard to attract a diverse group of trainees each year," says Groundswell Director Joanna Green. "People of all ages and demographics are getting interested in farming, and they all need access to the training and the resources required to be successful." Groundswell especially encourages people of color to get involved, as well as new Americans, LGBT and others who have sometimes been excluded from the sustainable agriculture/local foods movement. 
A campus without walls 
Groundswell 's courses are taught by experienced farmers on diverse working farms in the Finger Lakes area.  These include West Haven Farm in Ithaca, Northland Sheep Dairy in Marathon, Kingbird Farm in Berkshire, and The Good Life Farm in Interlaken, which serve as the main "Mentor Farms" for Groundswell programs. 
 "With Groundswell, you're getting the best farmers in the area to open up their farms, their business plans, their marketing strategies, growing practices and maybe most importantly, their lifestyles," says Allan Gandelman of Main Street Farms in Homer, NY. Gandelman and his business partner Bob Cat both participated in Groundswell programs before and during the launch of their innovative indoor farm business, which now produces and markets sustainable-raised Tilapia and specialty greens year-round. 
100-Hour Sustainable Farming Certificate Program now in its third season 
This is the third season Groundswell is offering its 100-hour Sustainable Farming Certificate Program. The program runs from May 6 to October 26 and provides a well-rounded, in-depth immersion in organic crop and livestock production. It also exposes trainees to a variety of models and mentors for successful small farm management.  The curriculum combines on-farm workshops, classroom training, farm tours, and supervised on-farm work experience.
This year Groundswell is also offering a series of shorter courses for those who don't want to take on the full 100-hour Certificate Program.  These include several advanced-level Intensives, geared for farmers with at least two years of production experience.
Groundswell's 2013 Sustainable Farming Programs include:
·         Sustainable Farming Certificate Program: 100 hours, May 6 – October 26
·         Finger Lakes CRAFT: Monthly farm tours and social gatherings
·         Organic Farming Fundamentals: Six sessions, May 8 - June 26.
·         Commercial Organic Vegetable Production Basics: Eight sessions, May 22 - August 28.
·         Organic Livestock Production Basics: Six sessions, July 3 - August 7.
·         Pastured Poultry Intensive: Full-day workshop, Aug 12.
·         Sheep Dairy Intensive: Full-day workshop, Aug 18.
·         Hog Breeding & Farrowing Intensive: Full-day workshop, Sep 16.
·         Draft Horse Intensive: Two-day workshop, Sep 28-29.
·         Poultry Processing Practicum: Full-day workshops, dates TBA. 
Tuition for each program is on a sliding scale, and tuition support is available for those with financial need. Program details and an online application form can be found at  For more information email or call 607-319-5095. 
The Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming is an initiative of the EcoVillage Center for Sustainability Education/Center for Transformative Action.  Support is provided by USDA's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute for Food and Agriculture-USDA, Grant #2010-49400-21799, Park Foundation, and Appalachian Regional Commission's New Americans Initiative. For more information, visit

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