How We Work

Groundswell International is a global partnership working to strengthen rural communities to create and spread healthy food and farming systems from the ground up.


What does global partnership mean?

Groundswell’s founders intentionally opted for a decentralized partnership structure. We prioritize downward accountability to rural communities, rather than upward accountability to external development agendas. We are committed to the global partnership of Groundswell because together we are stronger and can have a great impact in support of rural communities, small-farmer agroecology and local food systems. 


How do you select your local partners?

In general, we work to get to know potential partners by first collaborating on pilot programs. Based on this experience, we will consider whether longer term partnership is of mutual interest. Our criteria for partners includes:

  1. Similar vision, mission and values
  2. Compatible methodology
  3. Partnership is mutually beneficial
  4. Willingness to work together on joint programs and learning
  5. Capacity for autonomous management
  6. Contributes to strategic collective action
  7. Geographically strategic
  8. Track record and legitimacy
  9. Motivated


Why do you work in rural communities?

Over 1 billion people in the world are hungry, and 80% of them are rural farmers and food producers. Groundswell’s partners work with rural people at the community level to sustainably grow more food and improve their lives. We also help them spread successful approaches to farming, strengthening local economies, and build alliances with urban communities and wider social movements. While we focus on local food and agroecological farming systems, we also support people to address other priority concerns – such as community health, equity between women and men, savings and credit cooperatives, income generation and resilience to disasters.  All of these issues are connected in rural communities.


Real development happens and is sustained when local people take the lead, build their skills,
create healthy, representative organizations and generate prosperity – and when societies put
in place the policies and institutions to foster this


Learn more

Where We Work


Groundswell’s guiding principles:

  1. Creating opportunities for people to take action and to lead
  2. Test new ideas on a small scale
  3. Mobilize local resources first
  4. Strengthen local organizational capacity
  5. Promote a multiplier effect
  6. Build bridges to movements for social change

In all of this work, we also support some cross cutting principles: 

  • We encourage equity and inclusiveness. As most farming is now done by women, we emphasize gender equity and leadership development and opportunities for women.
  • We focus on strengthening local food and agroecological farming systems, while also support community-based organizations to address other priority needs in a holistic manner. 
  • We ground our action locally, supporting positive change from the bottom up, and coordinate globally to share lessons and amplify the voices of rural people to shape supportive policies and a more people-centered paradigm for development.

Keep up to date on our latest impacts around the world.

Get Involved.


Empower a family farmer today.


Watch videos and learn more.


Host a presentation or event.

Spread the Word

Be an ambassador on social media.