While spring begins to flourish, the team at the Allegheny Mountain Institute (AMI) Farm already has planted seedlings in preparation for an early crop of vegetables destined for the AMI Farm at Augusta Health.
“We’ve started kohlrabi, spinach, onions and kale seedlings indoors,” says AMI Farm executive director Sue Erhardt, “and we will move these to the high-tunnel greenhouse for them to mature.”
The spring vegetables will be the first of many deliveries to the hospital, which last year received 300–400 pounds of food in each delivery. This year, the AMI Farm at Augusta Health is shooting for at least 8,000 pounds of produce in total, but it is hoping it can meet or beat last year’s grand total of 15,000 pounds.
The farm is a vital part of Augusta Health’s program to help the community learn about fresh, nutritious vegetables and how to prepare them in balanced — and tasty — dishes. “We want people to look at the ways different foods and nutrients help bodies over the short and long term,” Erhardt says.
Gardening classes for young and old might also spur some folks to grow their own. Grayson Shelor, AMI education director, shared a brief preview of upcoming classes. “Recently, we offered Planning and Planting Your Garden, and later there will be classes on container gardening and square-foot gardening, which allow people to grow good food even in a limited space,” he explains.
Classes last year included one on how to grow food in hay bales. A second class on accessible gardening helped people who had stopped gardening because of pain or mobility issues. Thanks to the class, they could enjoy the physical and mental benefits of gardening once again.