Each year, campuses across the country quiet down for the summer. It’s a time of stillness, reflection, and peace.
Unless your campus includes a working farm. In that case, you’re looking at about four months of experimenting, digging, collaborating, harvesting, improvising, and most of all, getting your hands dirty. This summer while other Chatham students were interning in marketing offices, hospitals, or non-profits, Food Studies students from the Falk School of Sustainability applied themselves with vigor to their own living laboratory, the Eden Hall Farm at Eden Hall Campus.
There was an abundance of garlic this year—so much that there wasn’t enough space to cure it in the normal facilities. So, students had to improvise. The pool house offered the solution, with enough room to hang what was left.
Each season also offers the chance to hone in on what works well. This time around, extra attention was put into thinning out the carrots that were crowding one another or showing weaker growth, giving the others a better chance to succeed. Tedious work, but it paid off: The student garden saw its best carrot crop to date.
The student garden also planted a selection of Japanese and Chinese crops this summer. One of the success stories was the hinona kabu, a Japanese variety of turnip. Using a traditional recipe, it became a great pickle, called sakura-zuke—pink like a cherry blossom. Working with these foods also became a way to grow cultural understanding.
The Eden Hall campus is a place for both experimentation and collaboration. Students grew rye for Wigle Whiskey, a local craft distillery in the Strip District. With a lot of help from other regional farmers, 3200 pounds of grain were harvested, enough to make two batches of rye whiskey. Everyone is eagerly anticipating getting to taste the results. During the 2014-2015 school year, the Falk School of Sustainability also collaborated with Wigle Whiskey on a New Product Development course that you can read about here.
The work and pick program also had another successful season. Students and faculty volunteer, regardless of experience, to help out in the fields. In exchange for their work, they get to take home food they’ve harvested themselves. The food may only last a meal, but the knowledge they gain is theirs for life. Consider getting involved next year, and check out the Eden Hall Farm Blog for more stories and updates.