• Allegheny Mountain Institute







  • Allegheny Mountain Institute (AMI) is an educational non-profit organization with the mission to cultivate healthy communities through food and education.

    Our vision is to create a thriving network of collaborative, vibrant communities
    who value the connection between food and health.


    Fellowship Application Period for the 2018-2019 Cohort Begins November 1, 2017
    Check back for details and instructions on how to apply!

  • AMI Calendar

    Join us for Events at AMI Urban Farm & at Allegheny Mountain Farm Campus

    Seed Saving Workshop

    Saturday, October 7, 10AM-Noon

    Learn how to save your own seeds! This hands-on workshop led by the AMI Farm Team will demonstrate how to save seed from a variety ornamental and edible plants. We will also discuss best techniques for storing seeds and starting them in the spring. $20 per person. Click here to register with Staunton Parks & Recreation. Contact Farm Manager David Gianino for more information at David@AlleghenyMountainSchool.org.


    AMI Fellows Capstone Presentations

    Wednesday, October 11, 6PM

    Join us at The Highland Center in Monterey, VA for the AMI Fellows' Capstone Presentations. The eight Phase I AMI Fellows will each highlight an area of selfstudy, and share from their experiences in this culmination and celebration of their six-month long dedication to living, working, and studying at AMI’s Allegheny Mountain Farm campus. Community Potluck is at 6PM. Presentations begin at 7PM. Contact Jessa Fowler, Education Director, at Jessa@AlleghenyMountainSchool.org for more information.


    Pumpkin Fest

    Saturday, October 28, 2-5PM

    Come on down to the AMI Urban Farm where we will be selling pumpkins and offering a variety of arts, crafts, and games for the whole family to enjoy! Join us this fall for a fun-filled afternoon, just in time for Halloween! Contact Farm Manager David Gianino for more information at David@AlleghenyMountainSchool.org.



    Putting Garden Beds to Rest

    Saturday, November 11, 10AM-Noon

    As the growing season comes to an end, it’s important to take the time to tuck your beds in for the winter. Learn how to properly prepare your garden for the winter and the benefits of doing so! We’ll discuss cleaning up beds, what to do for your soil, as well as winter mulching. $20 per person. Click here to register with Staunton Parks & Recreation. Contact Farm Manager David Gianino for more information at David@AlleghenyMountainSchool.org.

  • The AMI Urban Farm at VSDB

    The AMI Urban Farm at VSDB is a project of Allegheny Mountain Institute and Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind (VSDB) in Staunton, VA. The farm provides students of all ages a place to learn, play and grow outdoors. Our 3-acre site located on the VSDB campus consists of a 2-acre vegetable farm, educational gardens, outdoor classroom and kitchen, orchard, and diverse native habitat plantings.

    • We offer a year-round gardening curriculum that teaches community and school groups about the connection between food production, nutrition, and health.
    • We host public workshops and events during the growing season.
    • We provide training and support for teachers interested in developing school garden programs. 
    • Where does all this food go? The food grown at the AMI Urban Farm at VSDB is used by the VSDB cafeteria, prepared and served to students during meal time. The food is also sold to local schools and restaurants, and donated to regional hunger relief agencies.




    Come get your hands in the dirt with fellow community members! Spend the evening outdoors learning, working, and helping us grow good food! ...

    The Public is invited to this family-friendly event that takes place every Tuesday evening from 4-7 PM, during the growing season --all ages are welcome!

    This is a fun, hands-on opportunity to learn gardening skills and help our farm grow. In addition, you can purchase fresh produce, or, in return for your volunteer work, receive veggies for free!


    The AMI Urban Farm at VSDB is located at 113 New Hope Rd. on the
    Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind campus (near the soccer fields)
    . . .
    For updates, weather cancellations, and more information, check out the
    AMI Facebook page or email Katrina@AlleghenyMountainSchool.org with questions.


    Click here for directions!

  • The Fellowship Program

    Applications for the 2018-2019 Fellowship will be available November 1, 2017.


    The AMI Fellowship is an 18-month, two-phase program that spans two full growing seasons. AMI Fellows gain a deeper understanding of the relationships between food production, natural systems, diet, and optimal human health and participate in hands-on educational program in sustainable agriculture. They go on to work as local food coordinators, school garden facilitators, market farm managers, food systems educators, and advocates for sustainable food systems. AMI's Fellowship Program creates strong leaders who successfully work to build a more cohesive food system.

    Phase I Fellowship

    During Phase I, a cohort of individuals train and connect to the food system as they live, work, and study for six months on our mountain farm campus in rural Highland County, Virginia. On the farm, Fellows gain full season experience in sustainable growing methods on a diversified farm. Here, they grow most of their own food while developing a deeper understanding of the connections between sustainable food systems and community wellness, through hands-on experience, workshops and training. AMI Fellows study a variety of topics, including permaculture design, whole foods preparation and preservation, wellness and nutrition, land stewardship, leadership, and community development. The curriculum includes expert guest instructors, field trips, and daily garden and educational sessions. After learning and working from 8 am - 5 pm, Fellows enjoy a communal dinner of farm fresh foods. Living quarters are shared, handcrafted wood cabins. Fellows cook meals together and enjoy common living. Study areas are equipped with wifi. Meals consist of foods grown on the farm augmented with whole food staples. Fellows spend approximately 40 hours per week learning and studying on the farm, with occasional evening and weekend commitments. Upon successful completion of Phase I, AMI Fellows receive a $1,000 stipend.

    What Will You Study?

    Full Season Organic Gardening

    Rotational Grazing

    Small Animal Husbandry

    Permaculture Design

    Soil Science


    Mushroom Cultivation


    Cooking, Preserving & Fermentation

    Nutrition & Wellness

    Community Development

    Nonprofit Management

    Food Access Issues

    ... and much more!


    "I experienced six months of personal and botanical growth living atop Allegheny Mountain learning about the many intersections between food and community."

    -- Samantha Taggart, AMI Senior Fellow. January 2015






    Life on the Mountain

    It’s hard not to fall in love with our Allegheny Mountain Farm campus. Not only is our soil rich for growing abundant amounts of food, we are surrounded with picture-perfect mountain views, bubbling springs and a night sky lit up the Milky Way. Set on hundreds of acres of land in rural Highland County, the farm is situated on an old farmstead at a Triple Watershed Divide and is bordered by both the Monongahela and George Washington National Forests. Off the mountain, Fellows are welcomed into a rich Appalachian culture and close-knit community of Highland County. Just 30 minutes away, the town of Monterey offers a full Farmer's Market, several restaurants, and community events throughout the summer.



    As an AMI Fellow, you will build a life-long community with a cohort of individuals passionate about living sustainably and cooperatively with nature.

    Phase II Fellowship

    The Phase II Fellowship is a yearlong placement with a partner organization where the AMI Fellows use their knowledge and skills to build organizational capacity and launch new programs. In Phase II, AMI Fellows apply their Phase I training as they work on projects focused on building healthy communities through food and education. Working with Partner Organizations, Senior Fellows help build organizational capacity and launch new programs such as community gardens, school gardens, and develop site-based curriculum. They advocate for sustainable land use, and teach classes in nutrition and cooking for a healthy lifestyle, and more. Supported by the AMI network, Senior Fellows continue to attend workshops and training in leadership, community development, and permaculture design study. Fellows work 40 hours per week with hours dependent on the Partner Organization placement. Occasional evening and weekend commitments are required. All Fellows are assured placements, and each Fellow's interests are considered as when determining Phase II work placements. Fellows receive an annual salary of $18,000 (subject to payroll taxes) and a Permaculture Design Certificate from Shenandoah Permaculture Institute upon successful completion of the year.

  • Meet the Fellows!

    AMI's 2017-2018 Cohort
    Allegheny Mountain Institute is pleased to welcome our sixth cohort of Fellows, who joined us on the Highland County campus for Phase I of our Fellowship Program in spring 2017. Coming from as far away as Wisconsin and as close as Lynchburg, these eight amazing individuals will learn about sustainable agriculture practices, food systems, nutrition, food preparation and preservation, and more!

    Patrick Banks

    Pat has volunteered across the U.S. on various organic farms, but it wasn't until last summer that he began interning and working full time on a local organic farm outside of Madison, Wisconsin, where he truly fell in love with sustainable agriculture. Sustainable agriculture is his passion, and though it’s hard for him to pinpoint one main area of interest, he is excited about the actual growing of crops and connecting people to their food and farmers. He also enjoys studying and discussing topics such as food waste and the impacts that the agricultural field has on our environment as well.

    Maya Epelbaum

    Maya graduated from Washington and Lee University with a Psychology major and minors in Environmental Studies and Philosophy. She led the Compost Crew and Student Environmental Action league at her college. She interned for a summer at Henry’s Fork Foundation in Idaho, where she discovered that she was meant for an outdoor career. Upon graduating, Maya worked as a Campus Organizer for the NJ Public Interest Research Group (NJPIRG) Campus Action for a semester. Since then, she has interned at the Holiday Lake 4-H Environmental Center in Appomattox, Virginia, teaching natural resource classes.

    Mary-Ellen Garner

    Born in Georgia and raised in Florida, Mary-Ellen spent most of her childhood covered in dirt, sand, mud, or clay. She graduated from Rollins College with a degree in International Relations and a minor in Chemistry. Since then she has been doing work-trades in New England and Western Europe, hopping from one passion to the next. Mary-Ellen has always been drawn to medicine, and her primary interest in growing food comes from a deep desire to help break the cycle of poor health and promote community wellbeing through a more customized and localized food system. She believes the desire for connection (to others, to the earth, to our food) is intrinsic to our human experience and is so excited for the awaiting opportunities at AMI to grow and feed this connection.

    Sophia Hutnik

    Sophia is originally from Ithaca, New York and has a Bachelor’s in International Relations/Anthropology from SUNY Geneseo and a Master’s of Science in Human Ecology from Lund University in Sweden. During her bachelor’s, Sophia focused on political issues in the Middle East and Turkey. After her work in political research, she switched her focus to environmental justice and food supply systems during her Master’s program, and now gravitates towards garden-based education as her means of political and social activism. She also wishes to live a homesteading lifestyle in the near future.

    Matthew Kitchen

    Matt is a sprightly native of Manassas, Virginia who went to school at the College of William and Mary and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in theatre and creative writing. His fascination with the multicolored biodiversity of organisms fitting together into the beautifully designed latticework of ecology is even further enlivened when considering people’s place in this system of life. The Allegheny Mountain Institute will be Matt’s first adventure since finishing college, and throughout he aspires to share his enthusiastic love for biodiversity with others.

    Elora Overbey

    Elora was born on a farm in Floyd, Virginia, and lived in New Mexico for 12 years before attending the University of Oregon to study Journalism and Advertising. In Oregon, she worked on a series of stories concerning social justice issues of housing and food security. She recently moved back to Virginia and began volunteering with Lynchburg Grows to work on food accessibility in pursuit of a better understanding of how all these issues intersect. Elora can't wait to begin the AMI program and is looking forward to discovering ways of bringing this knowledge back to help her community.

    Grayson Shelor

    A former “picky kid”, Grayson is now committed to proving the merits of vegetables to children. She firmly believes that growing and preparing healthy food can and ought to be fun and empowering, and that "changing the way people, young and old, think about their meals is the key to better health and stronger communities." Grayson enjoys books, tea, playing tennis, singing along to musicals, hiking, and splashing in creeks in the mountains near her East Tennessee home.

    Stephen Rodriguez

    Stephen was born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky. After receiving his BA in English from Ohio State University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan, he moved to Northwest Ohio, where he worked as a substitute teacher and volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, Mulberry Creek Herb Farm, and Another Chance Sanctuary. Stephen sees gardening as a uniquely empowering and therapeutic activity and wishes to raise awareness about the benefits of eating locally grown produce through the creation of community gardens.

  • Follow the AMI Fellows

    What's it like to be a Fellow? Check out AMI Fellows and Alumni blog posts!

  • Watch to learn more about AMI's Phase I Fellowship

  • Watch to learn more about AMI's Phase II!

    Check out where they are now and what great work they do.

  • Growing Food. Building Community.


    It Takes A Village to Teach a Cohort!

    We couldn't achieve our goal of helping individuals and communities create a vibrant and accessible local food economy without the support of our community of friends, donors, and partner organizations, who all believe in AMI’s mission.



    Donate to AMI today and help us continue to build
    our educational programming and community projects,
    through your generous support.

  • AMI Alumni

    AMI alumni continue to make an impact in communities. Former Fellows are now nonprofit directors, environmental educators, food entrepreneurs, permaculture designers, graduate students, sustainable farmers and lifelong leaders in the local foods movement. Check out where they are now, and what great work they do:

    Paul Krysik

    I stepped foot onto the mountain in the spring of 2013, a beginning farmer/local food advocate curious about what the next two years might bring. No one besides the fates would have known the knowledge and growth that AMI helped me obtain from immersing myself in study and practice with the growing AMI family. Most of all, my AMI Senior Fellowship position as the 2014 Village Manager prepared me in unspeakable ways for what life had in store for me in the next chapter of my journey.


    Today, I have the pleasure of working with the Chicago Botanical Gardens’ Urban Agriculture Department: Windy City Harvest. My main role in one of their many programs is with the Harvest Corps program. The program is a transitional job training program for people who were once incarcerated in their life. My main duty as Farm Operations Crew Leader is to train our members in urban agriculture skills and help them prepare and find future employment in the many opportunities here in Chicago.

    Lisa Millette

    Every day I touch thousands of lives. This is possible, when one's work is with seeds. In every singular, viable seed an embryo awaits the sufficient conditions to grow into the world. Countless lives pass through my hands and the hands of my co-workers every day.


    I have joined Turtle Tree Seeds as their assistant seed garden manager. We offer over 300 varieties of vegetables, herbs, and flowers grown using biodynamic and organic practices both in our seed garden and by other farmers and gardeners who use biodynamic methods. Turtle Tree Seed is part of a Camphill Village in Copake, NY, a life-sharing community which includes people with developmental disabilities. 


    Each day, our group of about 20 adults of all abilities help with processing, cleaning and packing our seeds. We are also beginning to raise seedlings which we will grow out this season for seed as well as caring for the biannual crops over-wintering in our greenhouses. Most of us highly anticipate the spring - the start of this year's seed gardens, the hum of the bee hives, the blossoming of the apple trees.


    As a child, my mother taught my sister and I to pull the dead petals of the marigold to discover the seeds the plant had developed there. We stored them in old coffee containers for the following year. In the summer of 2009, the UMass student farmers harvested a row of Siberian Kale that had unintentionally gone to seed and likely saved enough seed for the next decade of student farmers.

    Ben Samuelson

    I belong to the 2013/2014 fellowship cohort of the Allegheny Mountain Institute.  My AMI Senior Fellowship was with the founding team to create the AMI Urban Farm at VSDB. That was the first educational farm I helped to build, now I'm working on the third.


    I signed on as a "Location Manager" for a non-profit called The Amir Project. Amir builds gardens and farms at summer camps and runs programming during the camp season aimed at teaching ideas of social justice as well as the more obvious "where our food comes from" rag.  It is a compelling idea and I saw it work.  With just a little reminding and mindfulness I saw children take an understanding of our role of power in the garden. 


    My job at the Amir Project was to first help run our seminar to train 80 farmers to go tend and teach in gardens at camps across the country, then to manage a team of 5 to build (from scratch) and run programming in a productive one-quarter acre farm in just three months! That is an insane goal and we did it.

    Now I am living and working in northern California at the Environment Celebration Institute's demonstration farm. This is the non-profit that Elaine Ingham works through. She is something of a celebrity in the biological farming movement, and for good reason. Her soil biology consulting work has been quietly transforming unstructured and lifeless farm soils back into resilient productive havens for microbes, like soils are meant to be. Her work has been widely embraced internationally, and the demand for consultants is outstripping supply.  She relies on scrutinizing compost for the life it contains, using extreme discernment to select the right compost for the job, and applying it as an inoculant, not a fertilizer.  Our workhorse is the light microscope, we make a lot of compost, and keep a lot of records.The purchase of the farm was final in the late spring of this year. There is still a great deal of work to be done on our soil which has been chemically managed and is currently host to very few organisms other than bacteria.The purpose of the farm is to be a teaching center for the microscopy skills necessary to understand and inform all types of growing operations.Currently Elaine uses the farm as a kind of personal retreat for about one week each month where she can garden, catch up on email, and rest from her global work life.This is lucky for me as I get lots of coveted one-on-one microscope time with her which seriously rocks. I am getting back to my roots in Biology (my undergrad major) and quickly gaining soil literacy.These skills are needed all over the world and I am honored and flattered to be considered to do this big work. 


    There's not much gain in counting nematode eggs and flagellate cysts before they hatch, but I'm excited for whatever is next.I usually have a hard time looking down the road, even a few months.In fact, AMI gave me the longest steadiest engagement I've had since college.Wherever I go I take the fruits of that immersive learning and meaningful work that I shared in Virginia with my cohort.

    Roger Woo

    AMI taught me so much about the power of food in building, nourishing, and sustaining local communities. It has inspired me to build a small farm business of my own, and reinvigorated my vision of building a farm-to-table restaurant and educational hub someday. However, I also want to empower others to grow their own food and in doing so, contribute to a more resilient and diverse food system, wherever they may be.


    Since I've left Virginia, I've encountered mentors who taught me not only how to grow vegetables, but also how to run an effective business enterprise. This season, I'm excited to be finally growing for myself, managing a farm with two other business partners in Southern Ontario. We've carved out a one-acre market garden, tucked away in the valley of an old Simmental cattle farm. There remains much for me to learn, and while AMI did not give me all the answers, it certainly instilled in me the confidence that I'll be able to figure things out. I look forward to the challenges of this journey, and I hope you will join me as I share my experiences about gardening, cooking, and everything food-related through my podcast, 'To Grow a Meal'


    You can find us on iTunes, Google Play, or www.togrowameal.com

  • Who is Allegheny Mountain Institute?


    Laurie Berman
    Founder, Board President

    Laurie moved to Highland County in 1975. There she began taking an active role in local environmental protection and intensive organic gardening.  Her non-profit community involvement includes being a founding board member of the Highland County Arts Council, The Highland Center, Highlanders for Responsible Development, and most recently as the Founder of Allegheny Mountain School, now Allegheny Mountain Institute.  

    Currently on the Board of the Valley Conservation Council, Laurie is a strong advocate and spokesperson for maintaining and building agricultural vitality while protecting and preserving our valuable soil structure and watershed.  However her deepest passion is in growing food and teaching others to appreciate the importance of eating fresh foods for optimum health and well being.

    Laurie is also an avid naturalist, beekeeper, permaculture enthusiast, hiker, music maker, and mother of three grown daughters, who all share her love of gardening, earth stewardship, and fresh cuisine.

    Sarah Collins-Simmons
    Vice President

    Sarah grew up in Nelson County in the mountains of Virginia, so she felt right at home when she moved to Highland County in 2011 to participate as one of the founding Fellows at the Allegheny Mountain School, now Allegheny Mountain Institute. Sarah loved being a part of the Highland County community so much that after finishing her Phase II placement at The Highland Center, she has continued to live here.


    Today, Sarah uses the additional skills she acquired through the Fellowship as the Orchardist and Cellar Master for Big Fish Cider, Co. based in Monterey, Virginia. In addition to being a board member for the Allegheny Mountain Institute, she serves on the Highland County Economic Development Authority, Highlanders for Responsible Development, and the Highland Tourism Council.


    Growing up, Sarah first learned to care for plants from her parents in their garden and yard. After going to the University of Virginia to study architecture and environmental science, she discovered landscape architecture and went on to get a Masters Degree in that field from the University of Georgia.


    Sarah is married to Joshua Simmons, a Highland native, and the County Building Official as well as a general contractor. Together, they enjoy spending time outside, hiking and camping with their two dogs. They also caretake a small farm while they make plans for their own farm. Sarah also enjoys making pottery, jewelry, baskets and working with wood and recently co-launched Highland Made, a locally operated pottery studio and maker space for the people of Highland to further their artistic desires.

    Thomas Hadwin



    Tom was trained in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Ecology at the University of Michigan. He went on to manage environmental work for electric and gas utilities in Michigan and New York, believing that it would be easier to influence corporations to behave responsibly from within.

    He later founded a computer, software and services company to promote the advantages of the newly introduced personal computers. He also created an organization to heal ailing businesses, eventually traveling the country to help businesses get back on their feet.

    He moved to Kaua’i and helped government leaders and the island utility to explore various sustainability issues, including local food, renewable energy, housing and transportation issues. As a faculty member he was able to facilitate student learning at the high school and college level.


    A lifelong organic gardener, he hopes to promote the training of a new generation of farmers and local food advocates to build greater physical, social and financial health in our local communities.


    Noah Goldstein


    He spent his childhood in the lush woods of Tennessee, his teenage years in the dry forests and deserts of Israel, and his adulthood in Boston, New York, and Boulder. Everywhere he goes he always finds himself in love with the natural world.

    He has a B.A. in Biology with a specialization in Ecology and Conservation from Boston University, and a Masters in Traditional Oriental Medicine from Southwest Acupuncture College. He has spent time farming in the Berkshires and pushing the edge of cooperative urban homesteading in Brooklyn, where he worked as an environmental educator for the New York Restoration Project.

    Noah now lives in Boulder, Colorado, where he merges his understanding of ecosystem dynamics with those of the human body to promote health and optimal vitality as an Acupuncturist and Herbalist. Noah also tends to chickens, bees, and a growing garden. He is also a dedicated husband and father.

    Julianne McGuinness

    Originally from New Jersey, Julianne lived in Alaska for 25 years until she returned to the East Coast in 2015 to spend more time with family.

    She served as Executive Director for the Alaska Botanical Garden for 7 ½ years, and now has her own writing and consulting business, Aisling Mhor Consulting --“Dream Big” in Irish Gaelic. She co-authored the Alaska Cooperative Extension Service publication on “Growing Garlic in Alaska”.

    A lifelong avid organic gardener, micro-farmer, and Master Gardener, Julianne loves to cook, farm, forage, kayak, and travel.  She has a B.A. in Psychology, and completed coursework for a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.  She has worked as a social worker in Manhattan, managed a community radio station in Alaska, and was a caterer and camp cook. Her campfire recipes have been featured on the Food Network.

    Julianne is a lifelong student of herbal medicine and nutritional healing and plans to have an organic garlic and medicinal herb farm when she settles down in one place again. Julianne is pleased to share her expertise in non-profit management and community development as a member of the AMI Board of Directors.

    Somers Stephenson

    After graduating from Virginia Tech in 1974 with a degree in Textiles, and upon the suggestion of a good friend, Somers opened a women’s clothing store in Altavista, Virginia in 1976.  In 1977, she moved the business to Lynchburg, Virginia, and over the next 30 years, with the help of an outstanding staff and great customers, Somers’ Place became one of Central Virginia’s leading women’s clothing boutiques.

    Shortly, after the sale of the business, Somers fulfilled a lifelong desire and attended and graduated from Rhodec International School of Interior Design and went on to create interior design projects for individuals as well as colleges and businesses over the last several years.

    Somers' natural tendency to be of service to others became apparent when she became aware of the alarming decline in the health of our citizens, including our children.  As a result, she was inspired to be part of the answer rather than part of the problem. In addition to investing time in educating herself about health, nutrition and exercise, Somers enrolled in the Duke Integrative Medicine Professional Health Coach Training Program and graduated as a Certified Professional in June 2015.


    Staunton, Virginia

    Sue Erhardt
    Executive Director

    Sue brings over 20 years of experience in education and urban agriculture to AMI. Prior to joining AMI, Sue served as Director of Education with Casey Trees in Washington DC, and held leadership roles with The Greening of Detroit and the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council. Sue has created and implemented environmental education programs for adults and K-12 students and has extensive experience in training and directing staff and volunteers to get the most out of their time and talents.


    Julia Church
    Admin Manager / Development Coordinator

    Julia brings over 20 years of nonprofit experience to AMI, specializing in Communications and Development. Her background includes work in the areas of education, environment, maritime interests, visual arts, and museums. She served as Communications Director with the environmental nonprofit, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater in New York working to promote youth empowerment and education programs, environmental awareness campaigns, and a Green Cities agenda. Originally from Patrick County, Virginia, she comes from a long line of farmers. After a decade in the Hudson Valley, she and her husband are happy to now call the Shenandoah Valley home.


    David Gianino
    AMI Urban Farm at VSDB Manager

    David has always been passionate about growing food and sharing his knowledge with others, and he has been actively growing fruits and vegetables for over 12 years. He earned his Bachelor's of Science in Horticulture from the University of Georgia, where he also earned a certificate in Organic Agriculture Production and a certificate in Local Food Production. He returned to UGA and earned his Master's of Science in Horticulture. He has worked on small-scale farms and gardens, where he taught gardening workshops, sold produce to markets, and worked to promote community gardening and farming projects in the greater Augusta, Georgia area. He hopes to one day own a homestead and host educational workshops and retreats, and continue to educate and involve local communities. His hobbies include hiking, pottery, home brewing, gardening, teaching, biking, scuba diving, and camping, to name a few.


    Highland County, VA

    Jessa Fowler
    Education Director

    After studying ancient agriculture in college and co-teaching fifth grade, Jessa followed her passion for building healthy communities as an AMI Fellow in 2012. In her subsequent work at the AMI partner organization, The Highland Center, Jessa worked to build local food systems in the region. Jessa earned a Master's in Education from the University of Washington, where she studied and worked in the fields of nutrition and garden education, outdoor education, non-profit management, and curriculum development.


    Carter Wallace
    Farm Manager

    Carter Wallace brings a passion for eco –literacy and experience in farm management and design. He is a devoted husband and father, jazz musician, and "ag-tivist." Carter's love for engaging with food production and nature connection has led to him serve as a garden educator for at-risk youth in Los Angeles, as a good food journalist for the Pacifica Radio Network, and as a farm manager at Farfields Farm in Afton, VA. He is driven to be a part of the carbon farming solution to climate instability, particularly through the Holistic Management of livestock, and agroforestry.


    Maggie Wilder
    Village Manager & Lead Gardener

    Maggie was born and raised outside Berea, Kentucky where she developed a love and passion for the land and outdoors. She completed her B.S. in Geography at Western Kentucky University. Maggie graduated from the Peace Corps Masters International Program at the University of Washington in the spring of 2015 with a Masters of Forest Resources. As part of this program, she served two years as an Agriculture/Environment Peace Corps Volunteer in Adaba, Ethiopia and taught small-scale sustainable gardening, tree nursery establishment, and leadership and life skills. She also conducted research with a local, community-based ecotourism as part of her thesis.


  • AMI in the Media!

    Check out our most recent published articles spreading the word about how much our programs have to offer.

  • Contact Us

    Allegheny Mountain Institute's offices are located in Staunton, VA,
    and our mountain farm campus is located in Highland County, VA.

    Email us at info@alleghenymountainschool.org


    Allegheny Mountain Institute

    PO Box 542
    Staunton, VA 24402

    Staunton office: 540-886-0160


    Formerly known as Allegheny Mountain School.
    Click here to visit our old website and view previous blogs.

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