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Toto, I Don't Think We're in California Anymore

By Katerina Mesesan, Farm Fellow

In the midst of a global pandemic on a rare rainy night in Los Angeles, I boarded a plane heading to rural Virginia. I packed 3 large bags worth of farm clothes (basically just goodies from my local Goodwill), socks, shoes, toiletries, and my city - Los Angeles, California.

To say that rural Virginia and sunny Los Angeles are very different from one another, is a definite understatement. Driving up the mountain with our Executive Director Kim and seeing the vast amount of green, large country homes and confederate flags - I knew I wasn’t in California anymore. However, I knew this program was perfect for me. I get to be immersed in a curriculum that is centered not only on how and why we grow food, but our food systems, our inequities, and how through community we can fix them.

As a professional culinary instructor for 5 years, I have chosen food to be an integral part of my life. I love teaching and exploring new ways to help people in the kitchen find joy and happiness. Hopefully, it will spark a love for food and cooking that will last for generations. However, like so many others, the pandemic took a hit on my career. I lost a huge part of my identity, my pride, and my purpose. At the end of 2020, I was left at a crossroads for what I wanted my life - both personally and professionally - to look like.

Then came AMI. A place that harnesses the power of food to build education and community. These next 6 months will be integral to my growth as a person and a professional. Every single person in this program, from the Fellowship Director Jessa to my fellow Fellows, has already made an impact in these past few weeks. The journey begins now and I’m excited for the future.

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