Discovery cultivates growth. Discovery stimulates the minds and hearts of the young, the old, and everyone in-between to learn and to create. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a beautiful place nearby where families can take their children to play in the dirt and explore how plants grow? Wouldn’t it be fun to have a place where students can learn about the natural world while in nature? Or where teachers can come for inspiration in the classroom? All of these dreams are about to come true.
This year the Allegheny Mountain School (AMS) is teaming up with the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind (VSDB) to create just such a magical place of discovery. AMS Project Manager Trevor Piersol and AMS Senior Fellows Emily Melvin and Ben Samuelson are hard at work this year establishing the VSDB Educational Farm as a beautiful outdoor classroom and hub for garden-based education. Right on the school’s campus, next to the soccer fields, 3 acres of land are just waiting to flourish. The site was the construction staging area for VSDB’s recently finished renovation and is now ripe for some nourishing care and attention.
Trevor Piersol is a native Richmonder, UVA grad, and an avid gardener with a passion for teaching. As an AMS Senior Fellow last year, he managed the 6-month on-farm fellowship in Highland County, VA.
“I am excited to be living in the valley and working on the VSDB Educational Farm Project. From my experience, gardening is a great way to teach children new concepts and important life skills, inspire healthier eating habits, and have fun in the process!”
Emily Melvin is a native of rural Western Pennsylvania.
“Farming has always held a place near and dear to my heart. As a kid I loved playing in the woods and I was proud of the dirt smudges on my face. Participating in nature influenced the way I view the world. After working on several farms I feel ready to start one! I’m excited to create an educational farm with VSDB because I believe that growing food and interacting with nature nurtures children’s minds and bodies. I hope the farm inspires children to make healthy choices and to learn through hands-on experience.”
Ben Samuelson is a native Texan who is glad to be away from the big-city rush of Austin.
“I love gardening because it uses all my senses. When I was very young I was always allowed to make messes and use real tools. Smashed and cut fingers healed and I’m left with a fearlessness in the kitchen and in the garden. Tied for my favorite things in the world are a steaming hot pile of compost and a meal that I grew every bit of. The people I most respect have taught me with their joys. During this year-long opportunity with VSDB I aim to pass on my joy for growing food.”
With your help we plan to grow tasty veggies and fruits for the cafeteria, provide inspirational green learning spaces, and offer hands-on activities for both the VSDB and Staunton communities. Come discover with us!