Season's Greetings

By Kaila Topping, Phase II Fellow


I have never lived according to the season. Life in the suburbs affords the luxury of buying tomatoes in the winter and the assurance that city works will salt and plow a path to wherever I want to go. Aside from a general awareness of the daily weather so I know how many layers to wear, the seasons have not been particularly important to the pace of my life.

Enter AMI.


Enter farming.


Enter no-tomatoes-until-the-earth-says-so.


Oh, the naivete. My lack of seasonal awareness became apparent as I transitioned to living on the mountain, and learned that, no, I cannot have fruit because apples won’t be ready until fall. At first I resisted, craving the things I could not have, but once the fruit finally came it was a cherished gift that felt deserved. I grew to appreciate how to work with the season, not against it. How the food will taste so much sweeter if fresh from the ground. How to be patient and know the earth will provide when she is ready.

One of the first carrots I harvested last spring.

Mountain farm changing colors in the fall. Photo Credit: Matthew Hansen.

Living by the season is teaching me to live like the earth. I am trying to appreciate the slow pace of winter, in anticipation of the seasons to come. Spring will be teeming with life, and we’ll begin to feel the momentum slowly build with each sprouting plant. Once summer hits, we will run with it, trying to keep up with all the life bursting around us and chasing every bit of light long into the evening. Come fall, we are tired, the pace begins to slow, and we start to catch our breath. And finally winter arrives, a time for slumber, a time to tend to our tired bodies.


Icy day in Highland County. Photo credit: Pen Goodall.

As I begin my new position on the AMI Farm at Augusta Health, I try to notice the unique traits of the season I am in, and appreciate the beauty in each one. While there is obvious excitement on a farm in the summer months, there is still a subtle whisper of life in the winter. Lift a stone or pull back some hay and you will find life, awaiting its time until spring. My time in the Fellowship has shown me the importance of hard work, but also the necessity of rest. So I will be still in the winter, but come spring we will shake off the sleep and begin to grow.

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Allegheny Mountain Institute

PO Box 542,

Staunton, VA 24402 

 

AMI at Augusta Health

540-886-0160

Fishersville, VA

Allegheny Farm Campus 

540-468-2300

Hightown, VA