In 2019, AMI embarked on a multi-year farm to school initiative with Waynesboro Public Schools in Waynesboro, VA. Beginning at Kate Collins Middle School, AMI Staff and Fellows are leading the development of a community-facing vegetable farm and interdisciplinary garden-based curriculum. The farm and on-campus raised bed garden will serve as platforms for improving student achievement, leadership skills, physical health, and social-emotional learning, as well as addressing issues of food scarcity and community wellness in greater Waynesboro. 

In early 2021, we will break ground on a one-acre production and education farm, allowing students, teachers, and families to join in growing vegetables for school and community use. Farm and garden-based programming will provide a real-life platform for students to apply the Virginia Department of Education's 5 C’s - critical thinking, creative thinking, communication, collaboration, and citizenship skills - while bolstering the social, economic, and individual health of the Waynesboro community. 


November 18, 2020

WAYNESBORO, Va. (WVIR) - Waynesboro Public Schools is empowering students to address community challenges, specifically food access and workforce needs.

Two schools now have implementation grants to put their plans into action.

The State Department of Education has awarded Kate Collins Middle School and Waynesboro High School $300,000 each for Extended School Programs.

“It really is more about programs that happen outside of the traditional school day,” said Dr. India Harris, Director of Secondary Instruction for Waynesboro Public Schools.

The first program is growing the evening building trades class at Waynesboro High School. That means continuing input from community partners.

“What are their needs? What are they seeing that they are in need of,” asked newly hired Denise Cotter who’ll be managing the Extended School Program for Waynesboro Public Schools. “And matching that with the interests of our students and giving them these life skill courses.”

That could mean teaming with Blue Ridge Community College and others for training in things like logistics and forklift operations, phlebotomy, and emergency dispatch.

“To offer some of those more short-term certifications that kids will be able to get right out into the workforce,” said Harris.

The second program is at Kate Collins Middle School, partnering with Allegheny Mountain Institute and White’s Spring Valley Farm for a student-run community garden addressing food access and equity. More than 60 kids already want to be a part of it.

“They really respond to that idea of equity and thinking about how that works within a community,” stated Harris.

And, it’s providing real-life context to what they’re learning inside the classroom.

“It’s talking about science and soil. You’re talking about weather. You’re talking about economics of food scarcity and how do you get from the farm to the table,” said Cotter.

The Extended School Program calls for students to be leaders with active roles in addressing those community challenges.

“Really focus on getting the kids at the table and taking a role in designing these programs and moving them forward,” said Harris.

Waynesboro Public Schools can apply for these grants for two more years while working to make these programs sustainable.

Copyright 2020 WVIR. All rights reserved.

AMI & WPS In the news


Allegheny Mountain Institute

PO Box 542

Staunton, VA 24402 


AMI at Augusta Health


Fishersville, VA

Allegheny Farm Campus 


Hightown, VA