Allegheny Mountain Institute Welcomes New Farm Manager


Each year, Allegheny Mountain Institute brings in a new group of young people to Highland County to join in the mission of cultivating healthy communities through food and education.  This year, a new Farm Manager was brought on board as well.  Meet Dylan Kennedy.

He says, “So, I’ve spent most of my adult life in Kentucky.  I come here from the last five years managing another diversified farm operation in central Kentucky at a historic site called Shaker Village.  I’ve done some agricultural projects in some varied places, so I’ve had an urban farm in New Orleans.  I’ve got some mountain experience as well in the mountain west in the Teton Region growin’ vegetables and workin’ with some cattle out there, but, again, most of my experience comes from Kentucky.”

“And I’m here because I love diversified agriculture and have been a big part of the regenerative agriculture movement as much as I can in the last few years, so, what we mean by that is, really, the integration of animals, crops, different farm enterprises to create a more robust system that can eliminate off-farm inputs and, overall, create a healthier system for people and planet.”

“My primary role as Farm Manager is to oversee the development of the farm, so that’s vegetable gardens, fruit production, livestock.  We’re diversifying in to some different kinds of poultry this year, but, of course, we’re an educational program, and we’re a community action place really, to be quite honest, so that was really a big part of the draw for me is to get my hands in to a lot of that.”

“I have been associated with non-profits and for-profit farms in the past, and for some reason, I tend to gravitate toward places that have these educational components to their operation, and, so, I’m excited about the opportunity to teach and to work with young people that really have a passion to learn.  In some of my former roles, it’s been more geared toward tourism or, perhaps, school groups, and it’s always great to reach out to anybody that you can to teach this thing, but the ability to work with young people that are here intentionally, that was a huge draw for me, so aside from just the development of the farm, which may go in any number of directions, it’s the working with the people, the young people that really excites me.”

Dylan gives his take on why AMI is so important.  He says, “Lots of these skills and lots of this knowledge is being lost.  They have been for several generations.  That’s not a new trend.  It’s somethin’ that’s been slowly happening, and we’re startin’ to see a resurgence, I believe, of people about our age who really have a desire to learn some of these things, and not only to learn some of the skills that have been lost, but to take ‘em the next step”

“So we’re learning a lot of things.  We’re teaching, and we’re experiencing things that were known by generations in the past, but I think its important to put into perspective that we’re not trying to go in to the past.  What we’re trying to do is take the best of the past and make a better future out of it, so, that’s where, you know, bringin’ some of these older ideas, some of these older practices, mixing them with the new, and especially mixing them with the new and young generation of people with the energy and the excitement that they come with.  We can’t predict where that leads, but I think it’s pretty safe to assume that it’s gonna go in a good direction, and, so, I think that’s why it’s important.”

There are ongoing opportunities to get involved with AMI, including an upcoming event.  “We do have the Seed to Plate Dinner that’s comin’ up the end of this month, June 29th,” Dylan says.  “We are still selling tickets for that.  You can get those on our website or you can also get those at The Curly Maple here in town.  I believe we’re tryin’ to sell fifty, and it’s a fundraiser and just an event to kinda bring awareness about what we’re doin’, let some of the local community members meet some of us, meet some of the Fellows, see what happens up there, obviously enjoy some great food and some great community, so it should be a good event.”

Dylan comes to the area along with his fiancé, Jill, who is working in marketing and public relations for the Green Bank Observatory.  Dylan says, “I’d just like to let everybody know who’s listening – I’m sure I haven’t met a lot of you – but this place has been unbelievably welcoming to both me and my fiancé.  We’re glad to be here, and we can’t wait to meet everybody in person and continue to integrate into this community.  It’s a beautiful place.”

Story By

Chris Swecker

is the Assistant Station Coordinator and a News Reporter for WVLS. He has roots in Highland County going back several generations, and he grew up in Monterey. Since graduating from James Madison University with a bachelor’s degree in Media Arts and Design, he has pursued his career at a news station and advertising agency in Virginia, on Microsoft’s campus in the state of Washington, and in both states as sole owner and employee of a video production company. He enjoys exploring life with his wife, Jessa Fowler, traveling, hiking, hunting, gardening, and trying new foods, all while discovering more about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. He feels blessed to be a small part of this talented AMR team to help give back to the community that has provided him with so much.

Current Weather