Our Story

Groundswell International's 12 founding members

Groundswell’s founding conference.

Groundswell’s founders and partners have worked for decades to enable thousands of rural communities and organizations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to sustainably improve their lives. We have been at the leading edge of developing methods to spread agroecological farming practices, farmer innovation, farmer-to-farmer extension, community health, and strengthening local organizations to lead their own development processes. During this time we have also collaborated across borders to share our experiences, learn from each other, and return to our countries to apply those lessons and spread success.

Our global agricultural and food system is broken and needs to transition to one that is more sustainable and beneficial to the world’s population. This must happen in the face of the linked challenges of climate change, natural resource depletion, and worldwide economic and social upheaval.   At the same time, farmer-led social movements are growing, and there is increasing recognition that agroecology and food sovereignty are key solutions.

In August 2009, 12 people from eight countries – Burkina Faso, Canada, Ecuador, Ghana, Haiti, Honduras, the Philippines, and the United States – gathered at Overlook Farm in Rutland, Massachusetts to create Groundswell International as a global partnership to contribute to this movement and these bottom-up solutions. We are a partnership of local civil society organizations, NGOs and people grounded in diverse contexts and experiences, yet we share a common approach to supporting social change, a history of collaborating over many years, and a common dream.

Since then our founders and new members have achieved more than we could have hoped for in such a short time. We have expanded from supporting partners in Ecuador and Haiti the first year to supporting partners in Burkina Faso, Ecuador, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mali, Nepal, and Western North Carolina. 

Our Vision:

We envision a world where communities learn from and support each other locally and globally and take action to protect their rights and resources, build local economies that generate physical, spiritual and environmental wellbeing for all, and have a voice in the decisions that impact their lives.

Our Mission:

Groundswell International strengthens rural communities to build healthy farming and food systems from the ground up. 

Our Values:

  1. Lasting Change – We address the root causes of poverty and support social change processes that bring lasting improvements in people’s lives and provide equal opportunities for all.
  2. Community-Led Processes – Our work is people-centered, responds to local priorities, and promotes creativity, innovation and learning.
  3. Local Action, Global Impact – We seek to strengthen local leadership and organizations while pursuing common global goals by fostering connections between partners.
  4. Continual Learning – We strive to continuously improve our practice to ensure our work is sustainable, relevant and effective.
  5. Walking the Talk – We are committed to transparent, grounded actions and maintaining positive, coherent lifestyles that promote the causes we have taken up.