FARM & FOOD SYSTEM
Allegheny Mountain Institute believes in the power of food to build vibrant, healthy communities.
That's why AMI's tuition-free Fellowship fully sponsors, trains, and empowers Fellows to become teachers and advocates for a food system that is socially, environmentally, and economically just. Selected Fellows spend six months in experiential, residential Farm and Food Study at AMI’s Allegheny Farm Campus, followed by a Community Action Year, applying their training in partnership with regional non-profit organizations.
The AMI Fellowship builds strong leaders who successfully work to transform the food system. AMI alumni go on to work as farmers, educators, scientists, food entrepreneurs, designers, non-profit leaders, policymakers, and lifelong leaders in the food movement.
Applications for the 2022-2023 Fellowship have closed. Email us to get notified when 2023-2024 applications open.
Farm and Food Study Scholarship applications are also available!
While AMI offers a tuition-free and paid Fellowship, additional financial responsibilities can prevent individuals from participating. AMI is now offering a scholarship intended to offset personal expenses incurred during the Farm and Food Study for those with demonstrated financial need. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color applicants are given preference in recognition of the ways systemic racism causes the active exclusion of BIPOC individuals from farming education, land access, and wealth-building opportunities. Learn more.
Farm and Food STUDY
May 16 - October 26, 2022
From May to October, AMI fully sponsors a cohort of passionate individuals to learn, live and study together on the Allegheny Farm in Highland County, VA.
Fellows gain a full season of hands-on, diversified experience in agricultural methods that enhance the health of our ecosystem. This primarily includes intensive vegetable production, food preservation, and whole food cooking. In addition, Fellows learn poultry care, rotational grazing, mushroom cultivation, beekeeping, fruit cultivation, agroforestry, and ecological farm design. Fellows are directly involved with outreach, education, and sales, and may work to teach in a school garden, sell at a Farmers Market, and supply Community Supported Agriculture share.
Daily experiential learning is augmented by in-depth workshops and field trips led by passionate, experienced staff and topical experts. Through these activities, Fellows deepen farming skills and explore critical food system issues, examining the intersections of food policy, climate change, racism, and socioeconomic justice.
The Fellowship challenges and encourages both self-directed and collaborative learning. The Farm and Food Study culminates in a capstone project that provides Fellows with the opportunity to explore and hone their skills and interests.
Farm Fellows spend approximately 40-50 hours per week learning, studying, and working on the farm in a typical week, with occasional evening and weekend commitments for chores and AMI events. Fellows are granted 3 personal days, 3 wellness days, and 3 holidays. AMI provides accident insurance coverage. While the Farm and Food Study is tuition-free, AMI offers a scholarship intended to offset personal expenses for those with demonstrated financial need.
The Farm and Food Fellowship is an 18-month program, and AMI expects all successful Farm Fellows to commit to the following year of Community Action. Successful Farm Fellows receive a $1,400 stipend. $1,000 is paid upon successful competition and commitment to the Community Action Year contract and $400 is paid with the first Community Action Year paycheck. At AMI's discretion, Fellows may be asked to repay the costs of the Farm and Food Study Fellowship if they voluntarily leave the program, are asked to leave the program early, do not meet measures for success, or fail to commit to or complete the Community Action Year.
Fellows will learn how to feed themselves and their communities using methods that enhance the health of our ecosystem. Fellows will gain hands-on, diversified, farm experience and formal instruction in fruit and vegetable production, poultry care, rotational grazing, mushroom cultivation, beekeeping, agroforestry, ecological farm design, food preservation, and whole food cooking.
Grounded in a common sense of place and in close proximity to nature, Fellows with a diverse range of experiences and passions will form a cohesive and cooperative cohort that supports and challenges its members to gain skills and confidence to apply, share, and deepen their learning as advocates for the cultivation of healthy communities.
Transform the Food System
Fellows will explore critical food system issues - including the real and intertwining effects of climate change, colonization, racism, and socioeconomic injustice – and cultivate a toolbox of skills, knowledge, attitudes, and strategies to call upon in the work for change.
Community Action Year
January 9 - December 15, 2023
AMI approaches our mission to cultivate healthy communities through food and education with a unique three-fold and interconnected strategy: 1) the implementation of the Fellowship 2) support schools, hospitals, and other institutions to integrate farming, nutritious food, and related education into their food systems and outreach initiatives, and 3) participate in regional collaborations to build a strong, equitable and healthy food system. Fellows are integrated into key partnerships and regional efforts during their Community Action Year.
Starting in January, Fellows are paid to put their training and gain experience with innovative farming and education initiatives while furthering the goals of each unique partnership. This involves a year of immersive farm and food work in Highland, Augusta, or Rockingham Counties including Staunton, Waynesboro, and Harrisonburg, VA. Depending on their Community Action Year placement, Community Fellows may work with current or future partners to:
Grow and distribute diversified crops on a market-style farm
Implement educational sessions for innovative health care
Maintain school or community gardens
Integrate and teach food and ecological literacy into school activities
Support farmers markets and direct-to-consumer programs
Develop distribution channels for increased access to healthy foods
Support community food coalition activities
Mentor the next cohort of Fellows
As part of their Community Action Year, Community Fellows meet each month for peer support and professional development, participate in a workshop or field trip, and contribute to workdays rotating between each of the partner organizations. All Community Fellows are supported with monthly one-on-one mentoring. As the Community Action Year draws to a close, the curriculum supports Fellows to develop and prepare for post-fellowship goals.
During the Community Action Year, Fellows are paid an hourly wage of $13 per hour. In every position, Fellows participate in at least 8 hours per week of farm or garden work to gain a second season of experience. Fellows work 40 hours per week and occasional evening and weekend commitments are required. Health insurance benefits, workers’ compensation insurance, 10 days of paid time off, and 1 day of wellness leave every 5 weeks are provided.
Fellows gain a full second season of experience, confidence, and skills in agricultural methods that enhance the health of our ecosystem.
With the support of their cohort, Fellows reflect upon their own agency, develop a sense of social responsibility, build interpersonal connections, and find equitable and collaborative pathways for change within their community.
Transform the Food System
Fellows support partners and their goals for community health and food system change, utilizing and developing their skills, passions, and interests in the process.