During Phase I (April 30-November 1, 2017), a cohort of passionate individuals committed to revitalizing our foodshed, live and study together for six months at the mountain farm campus in the Highlands of Virginia. 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.
Applications for our 2017-2018 Fellowship
are due February 1, 2017.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
with any additional questions.
Qualified applicants will be interviewed no later than March 1.
Final selections will be made no later than March 20.
In the first phase of the program, Fellows connect to the food system as they live, work, and study on our beautiful mountain farm campus in rural Highland County, Virginia. On the farm, Fellows gain full season experience in sustainable growing methods, small animal husbandry, and rotational livestock grazing on a diversified farm. In addition, fellows study topics such as permaculture design, whole foods preparation and preservation, wellness and nutrition, land stewardship, leadership, and community development through hands-on experience on the farm, expert guest instructors, field trips and daily educational sessions. After learning and working from 8 am - 5 pm, Fellows enjoy a communal dinner of farm fresh foods. 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 will receive a $1,000 stipend.
Full Season Organic Gardening
Small Animal Husbandry
Cooking, Preserving & Fermentation
Nutrition & Wellness
... and much more!
It’s hard not to fall in love with our 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.
AMI Fellows apply their Phase I training as they work on community projects focused on building healthy communities through food and education. Working with AMI and other Partner Organizations, Senior Fellows build organizational capacity and launch new programs such as building community gardens, developing school gardens and site based curriculum, advocating for sustainable land use, and teaching nutrition and cooking for a healthy lifestyle. Fellows work 40 hours per week with exact 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 much as possible when determining work placements. Supported by the AMI network, Senior Fellows continue to meet regularly for leadership training, professional development, and permaculture design study. Fellows receive a monthly stipend of $1,500 (subject to payroll taxes) and a Permaculture Design Certificate upon successful completion of the year.
Watch to learn more about AMI's Phase II!Check out where they are now and what great work they do.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Jessa joins AMI after earning a Master's in Education from the University of Washington, where she studied and worked in the fields of nutrition and garden education, non-profit management, and curriculum development.
She strives to empower all ages to grow and enjoy healthy foods. She loves the pop that canning jars make when they seal, the satisfaction kids get from pulling up carrots, and hiking with her Highland County-native husband, Chris Swecker.
AMI Allegheny Farm Manager
No phone calls or mailed applications, please.