Allegheny Mountain Institute
Farm Staff & Fellows
During Phase I (April through October), AMI Farm Fellows live, work, and study at the Mountain Farm campus in Highland County, VA. They study regenerative farming, nutrition and wellness, permaculture design, and community development through expert guest instructors, field trips, and educational sessions. In Phase II (January – December of the following year), AMI Fellows work in the service of AMI and/or a non-profit Partner Organization and focus on activities such as: growing food and increasing food access, teaching nutrition and cooking, creating infrastructure for local food systems, and developing school gardens and site-based curriculum.
Allegheny Mountain Institute, or AMI, is an educational non-profit organization with the mission to cultivate healthy communities through food and education. Its origins are in Hightown, VA, where it was founded in 2011 by Laurie Berman, who had been a resident of Highland County since 1975. It originally began as Allegheny Mountain School under the umbrella of the Highland Center. In 2016, Allegheny Mountain School became Allegheny Mountain Institute, bearing its own 501(c)3 status.
AMI’s Mountain Farm is located on a triple watershed divide at 4200’ and is both a working farm and home to its flagship program, an 18-month Farm
and Food Education Fellowship. This Fellowship is a two-phase program that prepares and empowers individuals to become teachers and ambassadors for a more vibrant and accessible local food system.Selected Fellows spend six months in immersive training on our mountain farm campus (Phase I) and one year in service work with non-profit partner organizations (Phase II).
In 2018, AMI launched a new project in Augusta County: the AMI Farm at Augusta Health. It is a joint venture of AMI and Augusta Health to raise awareness about the importance of healthy eating and sustainable growing practices. AMI and Augusta Health share the vision that access to excellent health care includes access to healthy food. The project is rooted in the missions of both organizations to promote health and well-being in the community.
In the same year, the AMI Mountain Farm also welcomed several new developments, such as the Farm Stay Program. The new Farm Stay program at its Mountain Farm site is a unique opportunity for families, groups, and individuals to learn more about sustainable agriculture and the joy of eating freshly picked and prepared foods. In addition to overnight stays, the public is invited to participate in workshops with the Fellows on AMI’s Mountain Farm. For more information check out AMI’s website, Facebook page, or reach out by emailing or calling.
You can find AMI’s products at the Highland Farmers’ Market May-October and at the Highland Inn. They also offer Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) boxes, which provides a weekly box of fresh, local produce to customers during the bulk of the season. CSA shares are paid for in advance, which gives AMI an opportunity to purchase seeds and other materials prior to the start of the growing season. AMI also donates produce to several partner organizations in Highland such as Meals on Wheels, the Word of Faith Food Pantry and the Blue Ridge Mobile Food Bank.