Groundswell International strengthens communities to build healthy farming and food systems from the ground up
Groundswell International is a partnership of local organizations and their network of grassroots community groups. We work in West Africa, the Americas and South Asia. Our programs catalyze the transition from unsustainable agriculture and extractive economies to regenerative, just farming and local food systems. Communities and family farmers improve their wellbeing, produce more abundant and nourishing food in ecologically sustainable ways, increase their incomes, build resilience to climate change, and strengthen local economies and cultures.
Real solutions to real problems
Groundswell International supports family farmers to continuously innovate and spread agriculture that works with nature instead of against it. Farmers’ groups experiment with and develop the most effective agroecological techniques for their local environment and context, and then spread them through farmer-to-farmer networks and organizations. This is the essence of agroecology. Decades of experience and evidence prove that agroecology restores soil fertility, captures rainfall and recharges groundwater, increases biodiversity and tree cover, strengthens local seed systems, and contributes to the regeneration of entire landscapes.
Despite often facing extreme marginalization, women play a central role in creating healthy families, communities and ecosystems. They are also increasingly responsible for most farm labor. Our programs promote women’s leadership and gender equity. We empower rural women to develop mutual support groups; gain access to land, tools and savings; learn ecological agriculture techniques; and, increase their incomes. With this support, women are able to improve their families’ food security, health and nutrition, while building their own self-confidence and taking on growing leadership roles.
Many farming communities are trapped in a downward spiral of exploitation and poverty. Agroecology provides an alternative. But, in order to displace industrialized and processed food that undermines human health, damages the environment and drives climate change, people must purchase and eat healthy, sustainably-produced local food. Groundswell International strengthens local markets by supporting community-led savings and credit, grain reserves, seed banks, youth groups, cooperative farmer enterprises, and direct farmer-to-consumer relationships.
Healthy farming systems must also result in improved family nutrition. Groundswell International supports farmers to increase their access to nutritious food by diversifying their plots and household gardens, extending their growing season, and providing nutrition education. We focus on the nutritional value of traditional, local foods. Women, in particular, increase their food production and income for family needs through individual and collective plots, dry season vegetable gardening, savings and credit groups, and the processing and sale of local agricultural products.
Bottom-up efforts to create healthy farming and food systems and build resilience to climate change require government support to succeed. Too often policies undermine, rather than support, citizen-led efforts. Groundswell International strengthens dialogue, understanding and coordination between communities and decision makers, so that local programs and policies support regenerative agriculture and local economies. We document and disseminate lessons, results and recommendations for scaling agroecology that are grounded in local practice.