Beginning Farmer Incubator Opportunities, New York State

NEWS RELEASE - Contact: Joanna Green, Groundswell Director, 607-277-0180, info@groundswellcenter.org

A Groundswell of opportunities for beginning farmers! Park Foundation awards $15,000 grant to the Groundswell Farm Enterprise Incubator

 ITHACA, NY - The Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming is extremely pleased to announce that the Park Foundation has generously pledged $15,000 to help launch Groundswell’s Farm Enterprise Incubator. The Incubator, located at EcoVillage at Ithaca, will help provide new farmers with the land and the support they need to start their own farm enterprises. “There is a completely new generation of beginning farmers in our region who would like to provide our families, children, and the community with healthy, sustainably-grown food. However, these new farmers face a lot of challenges in accessing the land, resources, and learning experiences that are necessary to launch productive enterprises,” says Devon Van Noble, Groundswell Incubator Development Coordinator. “We would like to thank the Park Foundation for recognizing the importance of practical opportunities for beginning farmers to learn not only how to sustainably farm, but how to manage and grow a sustainable business.” A “Farm Incubator” is a land-based training program that provides beginning farmers with a low-risk, high-support avenue to try out a new agricultural venture. The Groundswell Farm Enterprise Incubator will offer affordable land, water, fencing, tractor services, and business development support to beginning farmers in our area. This year, the Park Foundation’s funding will help jump-start development of the on-site and organizational infrastructure of the Incubator.

"As farmers, we can provide valuable apprenticeships to potential new farmers, but the Farm Enterprise Incubator project will give them the opportunity to use what they have learned and gain their own experience," says Michael Glos of Kingbird Farm, one of Groundswell’s Mentor Farmers. “It’s great to see the Park Foundation and other community members driving this project forward." The Park Foundation’s support marks the second major grant Groundswell has received in the past two years. Since its inception in 2009, Groundswell has grown tremendously, launching the 8-week TC3 Groundswell Summer Practicum, the Finger Lakes CRAFT and the Ithaca Crop Mob in 2010. A major 3-year grant from the USDA allowed Groundswell to develop its New Farmer Training Program to provide further on-farm training opportunities to aspiring farmers in 2011. The Park Foundation’s grant, along with other community support, will make it possible for Groundswell to launch another crucial beginning farmer pathway, the Farm Enterprise Incubator. “This generous grant represents a challenge to the community to find additional innovative ways to support beginning farmers as they grow through the incubator program and develop their businesses in our community," says Krys Cail, local convener of the Central NY Slow Money Group. It is essential that the incubation of new agricultural ventures be a truly “community supported” process, and Groundswell hopes that all members of our community will take an active role in providing for the long-term food security of our region. If you or your business are interested in helping Groundswell develop the Farm Enterprise Incubator, please visit our website at www.groundswellcenter.org. Groundswell is an initiative of the EcoVillage Center for Sustainability Education/Center for Transformative Action. Support for Groundswell comes from individuals and businesses who believe in the importance of strong local food systems, and from the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute for Food and Agriculture-USDA, Grant #2010-49400-21799. For more information, visit www.groundswellcenter.org. Are you an aspiring farmer or market gardener? Check out Groundswell's sustainable agriculture education programs at www.groundswellcenter.org!

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