By Amanda Green
Amanda graduated with a degree in Business and a minor in Environmental Studies from Washington and Lee in 2006. After college, she served full term as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Kingdom of Tonga, worked as a consultant in international development and then in 2012 earned an MSc from the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester, England. Amanda and her husband Kevin have moved back to Rockbridge County to begin a permaculture farm whose bounty they hope will aid and support community food programs.
“I realized that my calling was to serve others by caring for the land myself, in addition to helping others to do so,” writes Green (w&L 2006).
Growing up and going to college in Lexington, Virginia, I never planned to make a livelihood for myself here. But career experiences near and far in 10 years since graduating from Washington and Lee University provided likely inspiration for life in an unlikely place. The Shepherd Program offered a platform for my interest in service and equipped me with the ability to see the world, including my immediate world, through the lens of poverty.
I have always been interested in three things: food, farming and service, precisely in that order. My first steps were taken for food while my grandfather held out a Saltine cracker. That same grandfather taught me to love the land and to enjoy living from it respectfully. Understanding service came later, but around age 12 I began to devote spurts of energy to helping others. Upon acceptance at Washington and Lee, I was intrigued to hear of the Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability. I enrolled in the Introduction to Poverty Studies Class and eventually became an intern with the D.C. Public Defender Service though the Shepherd Internship Program. That summer was spent learning firsthand about urban poverty as I helped an assigned lawyer gather information for her cases. I encountered numerous people struggling with severe hardship, and each of those people had a story. They wanted not pity, but to be heard by open ears and understood by a mind unclouded by judgement. Providing this small service, if only for a few months, made more perceptive and aware of poverty’s many faces.
Over the next several years, I set out to understand more about poverty. Post-graduation I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in The Kingdom of Tonga, where I managed a youth non-profit and its several programs including an organic greenhouse. I then worked in Northern Virginia consulting on agricultural development projects in civilian-military conflict zones. Graduate study in England at the Royal Agricultural College in International Agricultural Development was supposed to serve as a springboard into life as a global aid professional.
Strangely enough, however, as these years passed my desire for impacting a community on more local scale increased. By the end of graduate school, I realized that my calling was to serve others by caring for the land myself, in addition to helping others to do so. After two years as a chef in Seattle, I moved back to Rockbridge County with my husband to become part of and care for a community as deserving as any other. We hope to make a livelihood from the land we own, but our draft business plan also revolves greatly around supporting the community with what we grow and allowing our land to be a place where those with less can come harvest food at no cost.
It turns out that I didn’t have to travel far to find poverty. But my education and experiences, which started with the Shepherd Program, helped me to know poverty’s many faces and how I can best serve others as well as myself.