Appalachian Institute for Mountain Studies

Contact information
Farm Address:
120 Prairie Sky Ln.
Burnsville, North Carolina, 28714

Primary Contact: Jim Veteto
Primary Phone:
    Number: 828-536-0338


Internship information
General Farm Description: Appalachian Institute for Mountain Studies (AIMS) is a non-profit 27-acre farm dedicated to biocultural conservation and climate change solutions. We house a seedbank of 2000 Appalachian heirloom seeds collected during the masters and dissertation fieldwork of Dr. Jim Veteto, a 70-tree heirloom Appalachian fruit orchard (mostly apples), and 20 acres of intact Appalachian Cove Hardwood Forest (2nd most diverse temperate forest type in the world) full of medicinal and edible plants and wild mushrooms. Our approach is influenced by Taoism, Cherokee philosophy, and Permaculture with the farm divided into three different ‘worlds’ or ‘realms’ (these cross-fertilize with the more well-known 5 zones of permaculture design). The lower world gardens contain mostly medicinal herb and leafy greens gardens with some orchard and perennial food plants (roughly permaculture zone 1). The middle world contains the Arthur Hollifield Southern Seed Legacy garden where we grow out a diversity of our annual Appalachian vegetable collection, with an eye toward climate resilient varieties and main crop production (roughly permaculture zone 2). The upper world gardens contain a wide diversity of native and introduced perennial food plants, heavily focused on climate resilient perennial tubers, in addition to fruits and other plants in our forest garden (roughly permaculture zone 2-3). The JR Dawkins Appalachian apple orchard winds wistfully through each of the three realms. This is not a market farm, but rather an engaged sustainability project. We are researching workable solutions in Giduwagi-Appalachia to the climate catastrophe that is now upon us and figure that we have 10 years at the most for doing so. In fact, we believe, based on long-term anthropological research, that these are the most important 10 years in human history. We are looking for people with similar assumptions to join us in this important work of creating a climate (and covid) resilient human future. We are situated at the base of the sacred Black Mountains (very important in Cherokee cosmology), the highest mountain range on the entire east coast, with 80% of our property bordering National Forest lands and thousands of acres of hiking (zone 5), with 13 pristine springs and 3 creeks on-site. AIMS land has been utilized ceremonially by Native Americans for at least 5000 years.

CRAFT Member Farm? No

Internship Starts: May 15, 2021
Internship Ends: August 15, 2021
Number of Internship Available: 1-4
Application Deadline: open until filled, potential for joining during the season as positions become available
Minimum Length of Stay: 1 month

Internship Details:

25 hours of work a week (5 hours a day), the rest of the time is available for exploring the beautiful South Toe Valley (the South Toe is the cleanest river in NC). A mix of tending medicinal, annual, and perennial gardens, in addition to the orchard. Some work on developing a permaculture microvillage. The internship can be more focused on any of these specific areas of the project if you have a special interest. Another potential area is the digital realm, particularly on rainy days. Website and online ethnobotany academy development. Looking for 1-4 interns for this season.

Educational Opportunities: You will be interning with Dr. Jim Veteto, an internationally and regionally recognized leading expert in environmental anthropology, ethnobotany, agroecology, permaculture, Appalachian and Cherokee Studies. You will increase your knowledge in foraging, plant id, gardening, seed-saving, permaculture, holistic orcharding, and all-around earthskills. Poetry, song-sharing, Taoist meditation circles, wilderness walks occur regularly at AIMS and we offer period classes to the community (currently on hold due to covid, we may try to schedule some depending on emergent conditions) that are free to interns in the following (and more): Climate Catastrophe Gardening, Biocultural Conservation Gardening, Heirloom Seed Saving, Fruit Tree Pruning, Apple Grafting, Everything Apples!, Cherokee Traditional Environmental Knowledge, Forest Bathing/Botany/Meditation hike, Permaculture Underground Railroad, Forage and Feast, Appalachian ethnobotany, Sassafras: An Ethnobotanical Immersion. There are many other educational opportunities offered by Mountain Gardens, Celo Community and other nearby farmers and educators, including the annual Southeast Permaculture Gathering in the first week of August.

Skills Desired: Basic gardening and outdoors skill a plus, or experience working with plants in different capacities. Good work ethic, willingness to learn, and positive attitude. Also desiring someone with natural building skills to work on a Cherokee-style house. Minimum one season of gardening or several years of carpentry experience

Meals: Basic staples (grains, beans) are provided along with whatever can be foraged and harvested from the gardens. Independent intern cooking space is available as well as more communal area in main house. We typically try to prepare and clean-up meals together communally, eating as much off-the-land as possible.

Stipend: no

Housing: There are two spaces left in a small house. In addition, there are two spaces in the upper floor of a nice and dry barn, a covered tent platform, and plentiful camping.

Preferred method of Contact: email then follow-up phone call if mutual interest is established