Allegheny Mountain Institute Open House

Situated atop Allegheny mountain at an elevation of 4,000 feet on the border of Highland and Pocahontas Counties, is an educational facility known as Allegheny Farm. The farm will be hosting visitors to its eighth annual open house on Saturday. I spoke with farm representative Jessa Fowler to find out more about the open house.

Jessa, what’s your role at Allegheny farm?

My role on the Allegheny Farm is education director of our farm and food fellowship. We also have a farm manager who’s in charge of managing the farm itself. We have nine fellows in phase one and five fellows in phase two.  The Phase One fellows arrived on May 13. So they’ve been here about two months.

For how many years has the farm been offering this open house?

Our farm has been, I guess it’s really the fellowship has been, offering this open house since the fellowship began in 2011. So it’s basically been going on eight years.

Who attends the open house?

The open house is fun, because sometimes people come up who’ve been there before, and they like to see the changes from year to year. And then we also get a smattering of new people every year. So it’s a, it’s a good mix of folks.

Can you give me a brief overview of what visitors can expect on Saturday?

So when visitors come and drive in on our beautiful driveway, you will be greeted by a fellow and they will help you park your car and then they’ll either point you down to where our main campus is or help arrange a ride for you to get down there.  At our main campus, we’ll have farm-fresh appetizers.  We’ll have produce for sale. And that will also be the starting point of our farm tours. So folks can join a tour and get really a firsthand account of what life is like as a fellow, what the fellows are doing up there. Folks are also welcome to just walk around on their own.

What have the fellows been doing to get ready for Saturday?

Some of what the fellows have been doing is some farm beautification. They’ve been doing a lot of weeding to make it beautiful for folks. The fellows have also been busy working on displays, so pictures, explanations of what they have been working on.  They’re starting to work on preparing the food and they don’t want to start that too early, because they want it to be really fresh for folks.  But they’re starting to get those plans in your way.

When I attended last year, I was greatly impressed by the variety of plants in the garden.  How many varieties of plants do you grow on the farm?

It’s hard to say how many different kinds of different things we’re planting. And one of those reasons is that we are an educational farm. And so we want fellows to be able to see what Brussels sprouts look like when they’re growing and what, what’s another weird one, what kohlrabi looks like.  Because, you know, many people have seen what a tomato looks like, but to see celery is like oh, that’s what it looks like in the ground. And then another reason we get to grow a lot of things is because we’re trying to have a really diversified farm and that can help with our soil health. It can help reduce pest issues on the farm.

What about livestock?

We introduced four cows to our farm last year.  This year, a couple of them have had babies. So now I believe we have six. Dylan, our farm manager is working really hard on getting a rotational grazing system up and going on the farm so that we can be moving the cows on a regular basis and really taking the best advantage of our pasture.

Do you have chickens?

We do have chickens. Yes, we have Barred Rock and Rhode Island Red chickens. We did have some broilers that we actually just harvested for meat a couple weeks ago.

What’s your favorite part of the open house?

When you’re driving 250, you wouldn’t know that the Allegheny Mountain Institute is back there and you wouldn’t know how beautiful it is and all that we have going on. So, for me, one of the most interesting parts of the open house is to come off of this beautiful ridge and then find this little village of fellows who are living and working and growing their own food and preserving their own food and eating their own food and just finding this community back in the middle of nowhere.

The first thing that struck me when I visited the farm was the view.  It seemed like I could see forever.

Depending on the day and how clear it is, you can see four or five mountain ridges.  From 601, you can see Spruce Knob, which is the highest point in West Virginia.

How can potential visitors get more information about the open house?

The open house is Saturday, July 20 and runs from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.  There is more information about the open house on our website:  Folks can also call up to our farm and that number is (540) 468-2300.

Thank you, Jessa. Saturday looks to be a beautiful day.

Cool. Thanks.

For Allegheny Mountain Radio, this is Mickey Frank Thomas.

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Mickey Frank Thomas

Mickey Frank began his radio career in October 2017 when he was offered the impossible-to-fill 9:00 p.m. to midnight slot on Saturdays, where his coordinated mix of pop, soft rock and R&B from the 60s through the 80s met with little acclaim. Deciding that he needed a more awake audience, he added the 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. afternoon drive slot to his workload when it became available in December 2018. Originally from Morton, Illinois, good, old Mickey Frank has lived in more places than he can count on his fingers and toes, but now resides in Highland County.  Email Mickey Frank at

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