Current Fellows

& Alumni

 

Phase I Fellows participate in six months of learning and growing on the Allegheny Farm in Highland County, Virginia.

Phase I Fellows

2019-2020 Cohort

England Avis

England is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University with a major in Communication and minor in Environmental Sustainability. Her internship at Growing Hope, a local non-profit & urban farm in Michigan, helped fuel her passion of connecting to the Earth and to her community by learning and teaching others how to improve their well-being through growing food. Since graduating, England has completed both a Master Composter course and a Michigan Master Gardener Training course. She looks forward to her time at Allegheny Mountain Institute to help expand her knowledge and skill set as a localized food system advocate.

LOla DaLrYmple

Despite being born and raised in New York City, Lola has always felt most at home in the great outdoors. A graduate of Bard College, with a degree in history, Lola has worked on organic farms in Australia, in vineyards and wineries in California and New Zealand, and most recently as a teacher and staff naturalist at Echo Hill Outdoor School on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She is passionate about working with children from all walks of life in expanding their appreciation of nature, as well as broadening their access to (and excitement about) healthy food choices

Natalie Pax

Natalie is originally from Lewis Center, OH, near the city of Columbus. She went to school at The Ohio State University where she graduated with a degree in Environmental Policy, Philosophy, and Geography. She is interested in holistic health, sustainable agriculture and permaculture design as ways to cultivate sustainable relationships between people and with the earth. She is also interested in social and environmental justice, and finding ways to empower communities and individuals to take control of their lifestyles and enable a healthier, sustainable, and just future for all. 

Georgia Meyer

Georgia grew up in St. Paul, MN and recently graduated from Haverford College with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. After a three-month urban farming fellowship in Berkeley, CA, she is excited to expand her knowledge of the food system and learn more about the intersection of food justice and education.

matt hansen

Matt grew up in the small town of Marshall, Minnesota. After receiving his degree in Biochemistry from Regis University, he completed two service years with AmeriCorps. In his first year, he worked with farmworker families in Washington’s Yakima Valley, where he developed an interest in food systems.  He then moved to Juneau, Alaska, where he facilitated art programming for individuals with disabilities. He’s excited to be leaving his office job in Chicago to start this new chapter on the farm.

Tess jacobson

Tess Jacobson is a recent graduate of James Madison University with a BS in Integrated Sciences and Technology concentrating in the Environment. At JMU, she was a member of their Collegiate Wind Competition Team and an intern at the Office for the Advancement of Sustainable Energy where she was involved with learning about the environmental impacts wind energy and teaching K-12 about renewable energy and sustainability. Her love and curiosity for insects has helped her discover her passion for natural resource management, how insects can help and improve food systems, and overall, realize her dream to one day become a beekeeper!

Kaila Topping

Kaila is a Pennsylvania native - growing up in Harrisburg and attending Juniata College where she graduated with a degree in Chemistry. Having spent much of her childhood exploring the outdoors and gardening with her mom, Kaila is passionate about appreciating the natural world and understanding where our food comes from. In the past, Kaila has worked at summer camps, in environmental monitoring, and doing soil science research. Kaila brings a variety of experiences to the table, and is thrilled to learn as much as she can from her work and her cohort during her time with AMI.

naomi Desilets

Born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts, Naomi studied Sustainable Food and Farming and Sociology (minor) at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is interested in working with food justice efforts (specifically food deserts and gleaning) after working summers with community gardens, food banks, food pantries, and teaching youth around the US about where their food comes from. Naomi is excited for this next adventure with AMI and all she will learn and experience in the coming 18 months!

William barden

William is originally from nearby Bath County, Virginia. He studied history at Virginia Tech but his real passion is restoring and working on his parent's farm, which has been in the family for generations. He’s looking forward to supplementing his gardening experience with a knowledge of healthy food systems and how they can positively impact our local communities.

Capstone ProjEcts

Protecting Pollinators with Intentional Butterfly Habitats

England Avis - Ypsilanti, MI

Habitats and micro-climates are increasingly destroyed by urban development and pesticide use, threatening pollinator populations of bees and butterflies. By identifying butterflies native to Highland County and the plants upon which they thrive, this project encourages and guides communities on how to develop pollinator gardens as intentional butterfly habitats.

1.

Vermicomposting and its Many Uses in a Garden

William Barden - Millboro, VA

Vermicomposting- or composting with worms - is a fast-acting way to break down organic matter and create good, nutrient-rich compost for your soil. This project demonstrates how to build a vermicomposting bin and make use of its many benefits around the garden or farm.

2.

Creating Truly Local Brews: Wild Yeast Wranglin’ and Hop Production

Lola Dalrymple - New York, NY

Matt Hansen - Marshall, MN

Most of the typical “local” beverages actually import ingredients from far off. This project aims to make brewing as local to the mountain as possible, capturing and culturing wild yeast strains from fruit trees around the farm to craft beer and cider with a true sense of place. Additionally, this project creates a new structure for growing hops that doubles as a social space in our farmhouse garden.

3.

Value-Added Products at AMI: A Feasibility Study

Naomi Desilets - Worcester, MA

Canning and fermenting foods can extend the availability of local, healthy foods. At AMI, Fellows learn to preserve food to feed themselves and up-and-coming Fellows. This project researches and outlines the steps and changes AMI would need to consider in order to make these same healthy foods available for sale to county residents.

4.

Resource Guide on Sustainable Energy Systems for AMI’s Mountain

Tess Jacobson - Herndon, VA

Utilizing sustainable energy can reduce environmental impact, lower utility bills and increase energy resiliency. This project provides the Allegheny Mountain Institute with a resource guide and steps to take for obtaining a solar power system for the mountain. This project also explores other sustainable options and shows the importance and impact that sustainable energy education could have on the organization and surrounding community.

5.

Native American History in Highland County

Georgia Meyer - St. Paul, MN

Though the evidence is all around us, the history of Native American tribes occupying present-day Highland County is little known and not well documented. This project provides future Fellows with a book containing information on tools and agricultural practices used by indigenous tribes in the local area so that Fellows can better understand who came before them.

6.

Permaculture in Practice: AMI Village Garden

Natalie Pax - Columbus, OH

Permaculture design principles can help create beautiful, abundant and low maintenance garden spaces. This project reclaims the ‘Village Garden,’ a small garden plot designated for each year’s Fellows to care for that has been difficult to maintain. The goal of this project is to uncover and preserve existing elements within the plot and create a Village Garden Guide that draws on Permaculture principles to help future Fellows cultivate and manage the space sustainably and effectively.

7.

A Nursery at the AMI Farm to Provide Plants for Silvopasture

Kaila Topping - Harrisburg, PA

Silvopasture systems integrate livestock, trees and forage to benefit both animals and plants. To help fulfill AMI’s goal of creating silvopastures in our existing fields, this project takes the first step: cultivating needed plants. This project utilizes both propagation and seed starting methods to begin growing plants that will thrive in the Highland County climate.

7.

Phase II Fellows

2018-2019 Cohort

In Phase II, Fellows give back and apply their Phase I training through a year of service with AMI and partner non-profit organizations throughout Augusta and Highland Counties, Virginia. 

Julia loman

Since graduating from the University of Virginia with a degree in Biology and Studio Art, Julia has been exploring the convergence between art, farming and community in Detroit and her home state of Virginia. Through her work at the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory on Belle Isle, an urban farming apprenticeship, and at Wollam Gardens flower farm in Virginia, she expanded her knowledge about plants and cultivating the land. These experiences have strengthened her belief in the power of people coming together around plants and food. In her Phase II placement on the Mountain Farm, Julia manages the Allegheny Farm’s gardens, village and farm stay program. She hopes to bring her enthusiasm for growing food and exploring the natural world to the new Phase I Fellows.

Grace Grattan

Grace was born and raised in Arlington, Virginia and went to school at the University of Virginia where she graduated with Bachelor’s degrees in anthropology and linguistics. She’s interested in helping individuals and communities foster new relationships with their food as well as working to cultivate and promote curiosity in local flora, fauna, and nutrition. In Phase II, Grace is working at the AMI Farm at Augusta Health as the Farm Engagement Coordinator where she manages volunteers and works with the farm team.

Freddy Carruth

Freddy grew up in the small Appalachian town of Lewisburg, WV and the big coastal city of Charleston, SC. At Clemson University, Freddy studied Plant and Environmental Sciences, with a concentration in Agricultural Biotechnology. After working on research with the USDA and large-scale beekeeping in Utah, Freddy moved to Virginia to participate in the Allegheny Mountain Institute Fellowship. Through the Fellowship, Freddy now works with Project GROWS, an educational nonprofit focused on improving the health of youth in the Staunton, Augusta, Waynesboro areas as a Garden Education Assistant.

Nick Hodgson

Growing up working for his father’s landscaping business, Nick found himself gravitating towards the world of hard physical labor and being outdoors. He studied Kinesiology and Business, but his studies extended much further than his years in school and he considers himself a lifelong learner. He became increasingly interested in farming through volunteer experience on several organic farms. Most recently, his work on a non-profit farm with many social and community missions has heightened his passion for growing nourishing food and building community.

Ariel Duran

Originally from Valley Stream, Long Island, NY, Ariel studied Entrepreneurship and Environmental Sustainability at Baruch College in Manhattan. Ariel comes to AMI with experience in a variety of facets of the food system: in restaurants, on farms, and in classrooms. His passion for food makes him excited to learn more about the food system and its connection to community and the Earth. As a Phase II Fellow, Ariel is the Community Projects Coordinator for AMI in Highland County. In this position, he is working with Highland County Public Schools to help manage their school garden program. He also helps to organize AMI events and projects for the Highland County community.

Audrey Carter

A native of Richmond, Virginia, Audrey has enjoyed time in a variety of underprivileged areas and has witnessed the effects of a systemized food culture. She hopes to become a well-rounded advocate for food equality and access. Audrey brings experience in elementary and Deaf education, farm work and animal husbandry, to serve as Project GROWS Community Food Projects Coordinator.

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 AMI’s Mountain Farm as a beginning farmer and local food advocate curious about what the next two years as a Fellow might bring. The AMI Fellowship prepared me in unspeakable ways for what life had in store for me in the next chapter of my journey. In early 2015, I joined the Chicago Botanical Gardens’ Urban Agriculture Department: Windy City Harvest team as a Harvest Corps Crew Leader in my home city of Chicago. I now coordinate and manage a two-acre incubator farm site in Bronzeville where I mentor the new agricultural business aspirations of Windy City Harvest graduates and grow $40,000 worth of vegetables on ¼ acre for Midwest Foods, a local produce wholesale company.

AMI 2013- 2014 Fellow

Anna Tracht

Phase I of AMI was a gift. It was a time to slow down, dig in, and pursue passions and skills I hadn't had time to explore – like working with two other Fellows to create an apothecary for my Capstone project. Phase II was an exciting whirlwind; I spent the year working with The Highland Center, developing and running a Culinary and Hospitality Internship Program, supporting the Highland Farmers Market, and reopening The Highland Inn Restaurant as a local food destination. I was energized and inspired by the Highland farming community, and how people were linking together different parts of the food system in new and innovative ways, especially given Highland County's remote location and the accompanying challenges. It was these connections- both personal and on a systems-wide level- that pushed me to pursue work with food hubs and increasing local food access. When my time with AMI came to an end, I was motivated to continue the work of building local food systems. About a year ago, I accepted a position with Cultivating Community, a food justice non-profit based in Portland, Maine. In my role as the Sales Coordinator and CSA Manager, I support a training farm and food hub for new American farmers. I work with refugee and immigrant farmers in providing produce to about 450 CSA members and numerous markets, schools, and food pantries throughout southern Maine. We aim to equip the farmers with skills and tools to graduate and become independent farm business operators. As I begin my second season with Cultivating Community, I still draw on foundational experiences and lessons learned during my AMI Fellowship each day, and I'm sure I will continue to do so for years to come.

AMI Fellow, 2015 cohort

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.

AMI Fellow, 2012 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

AMI Fellow, 2013 cohort

Ben Samuelson

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 Fellow, 2013 Cohort

 
 

Allegheny Mountain Institute

PO Box 542,

Staunton, VA 24402 

 

AMI at Augusta Health

540-886-0160

Fishersville, VA

Allegheny Farm Campus 

540-468-2300

Monterey, VA