Growing Together

Project Leads: Violet Stone

Welcome to Growing Together.  We are a community of farmers, educators, earth-workers and change-makers from all backgrounds, ages and walks of life.  Our lives are connected through acts of growing food and growing people.  We share a common goal of creating more peace, connection, trust and allyship in our rural and urban communities.  This program primarily serves New York State.

The Growing Together Community, December 2023

Group photo of participants and facilitators "Coming Home: Centering in Self and Community" retreat

Learn about our recent Retreat "Coming Home: Centering in Self and Community" below.

Meet Your Facilitators

Pork RhyneWith a deep-rooted commitment to social equity and agricultural empowerment, Pork Rhyne has championed transformative initiatives across the globe. As the founder of AGRO Educators International, they've equipped over 5,000 AgroPreneurs with skills for sustainable livelihoods and have actively furthered inclusive agricultural practices through collaboration with organizations like the National Young Farmers Coalition and EATBETA International Foundation. While his work encompasses a vast range of endeavors from grantmaking redesign focused on diversity to spearheading regional food system collaborations, a consistent theme is their leadership in facilitating growth, understanding, and equitable progress in the agricultural community.

VioletViolet Stone leads a wide range of retreats and workshops for the agricultural community drawing on themes of connection, wellness, purpose, integrity and courage.  She sees this work as contributing to a more inclusive ‘culture’ of agriculture where all voices are warmly welcomed, honored and celebrated, including the voices of our ‘inner teachers’, sometimes referred to as our souls.  In this highly technological age abundant with ideas, assertions and resources, we have much to learn from the act of offering one another genuine listening, open-hearted attention and wonder. Violet has led programs for the Cornell Small Farms Program since 2007 and served as the New York Northeast SARE Professional Development Coordinator since 2007. She has been prepared as a Practitioner with the Center for Courage & Renewal.

JamillahJamillah El Bey (Roo) is a gardener, earth worker, integrated healer and wellness educator. Jamillah brought boundless enthusiasm and deep wisdom to our former community, Reconnecting with Purpose (2020-2023).  Always inspired by natures gifts and wonders, Jamillah continues to search for the best version of herself. This constant reflection is what lights the path to her life’s mission to “uplift fallen humanity”.  She is always seeking ways to be of service to the communities, families and individuals that are in need.  Her hobbies include and are not limited to woodworking, toy making, quilting, art of all kinds. She also has a pretty awesome library that includes books that span various topics.

Lodging and Accommodation


Lodging:  Inner Light Lodge offers simple rooms with  single beds. Some double rooms available. Sheets, blankets and towels are provided.  Shared bathrooms with showers are designated as Gender Neutral (Retreat floor), Womens (Retreat Floor) and  Mens (first floor). Click here for more photos and info.

Wi-Fi: At the lodge, phone reception is strong.  However, to encourage participants to stay in a retreat mindset, wi-fi internet is not available.  A phone hotspot may be used if internet is needed.

Food:  The Lodge serves vegetarian meals with a focus on local, seasonal and organic food.  Meat eaters are absolutely welcome to bring protein like sliced meat or canned fish to keep in the fridge to supplement your meal.  If you require gluten free, dairy free, or vegan food, please let us know so the kitchen can plan accordingly.

Participant Commitment

The Retreat was grounded in a set of principles and practices drawn from the Center for Courage & Renewal approach.  The Courage & Renewal approach helps us actively and intentionally choose to nurture ways of being with ourselves and one another that move against the violent, oppressive forces that create personal and societal division.

This retreat offered two invitations: 1) expand community with mindful colleagues working at the intersection of farming/food/nature and 2) incorporate the principles and practices into program design, facilitation, farm or work culture

For those of you interested in developing your capacity to bring the principles and practices home to communities you serve, support and mentorship will be provided in the months following the Retreat.  You'll have the opportunity to engage in paired practice with a colleague to cofacilitate a short (2 hour) virtual program. Conversation guides, mentorship and resources will be provided. You may also partner with project leadership to facilitate longer programs and retreats.  The following areas have been identified as Retreat themes of interest over the next 3 years.

  • Cultivating Farm Wellness, a program exploring how farmers can feed and care for themselves while feeding others.
  • A Changing World, a retreat for farmers and earthworkers to explore fear, grief and gratitude in an era of climate change and mass extinction.
  • Creating Benevolent Agricultural Communities, a retreat for farmers and earth workers of all backgrounds exploring identity and integrity, connection, care and trust in the context of our urban or rural agricultural communities.
  • Cultivando Bienestar, a similar program to “Cultivating Farm Wellness” offered en español and adapted to better serve the needs of the Latino/Latina/LatinX farming community.
  • Leadership Embodiment. An interactive, experiential program for educators, change-makers and activists to engage with inclusivity, centering practice, centered listening, inspiration and advocacy.  


Please contact the project facilitation team:

Violet Stone at or 607-339-5014
Jamillah El Bey at
Pork Rhyne (aka Rhyne) at

Sponsored by the Cornell Small Farms Program and Northeast SARE

This project is supported by the Equitable Farm Futures Initiative funded by New York State Agriculture and Markets and the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program under sub-award number SNE23-010-NY funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

News and Updates

A Path to Farm Community

By Violet Stone | April 3, 2023

The Cornell Small Farms Program’s “Reconnecting with Purpose – A Renewal Experience for NY Farm and Food System Educators and Change Makers” fosters a welcoming and trustworthy space for participants…

Read More

Reconnecting with Purpose Program Welcomes Applicants for Year 3 Cohort

By Violet Stone | August 12, 2022

As farm and food system educators or change makers, we face enormous challenges to our efforts to support improved livelihoods of those we serve.  Although we may work hard toward…

Read More

Reconnecting with Purpose Program Welcomes Applicants

By Violet Stone | August 9, 2021

As farm and food system educators or change makers working alongside rural and urban farm communities, we face enormous challenges to our efforts to support improved livelihoods of those we…

Read More

See the full archive from Reconnecting with Purpose