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another perk of an on-campus farm

Harvesting potatoes at Eden Hall
Harvesting potatoes at Eden Hall

“Everything we can make from scratch,” says Chatham’s Shadyside Campus executive chef Dan Dooley, “we do.”

“Chef Dan” is proud of the food he and his staff serve at Anderson Dining Hall, and with fresh beef patties, hand-breaded chicken tenders, and produce grown on Chatham’s Eden Hall Campus, deservedly so. In fact, this year Chatham was ranked 7th in the nation for best food grown and sourced locally by Sierra Magazine’s 2015 “Cool Schools” report. The rating reflects the amount of food purchased locally and the presence of sustainable practices such as composting.

“Around 20 percent of the food and beverage we buy is from sustainable and local sources,” says Anderson’s General Manager Rob Coyne. “By ‘local’ we mean about a 150-radius. Local producers, artisans, family farms.”

“I encourage my staff to get creative,” says Chef Dan. “Once we got in some potatoes and fennel, and one of my staff members said ‘Hey, there’s this soup I used to make in my restaurant,’ and I told her to go for it. It was a big hit.”

Students in Anderson Dining Hall
Students in Anderson Dining Hall

Twenty miles north of Pittsburgh, Chatham’s 388-acre, net-zero Eden Hall Campus grows produce year-round with the help of a solar-powered hoop house, a roster of Masters in Sustainability and Masters in Food Studies students, and Allen Matthews, Chatham’s director and instructor of sustainable agriculture.

“If Allen’s got it, we’ll take it” laughs Chris Galarza, who has been executive chef at Eden Hall since July.

Eden Hall feeds fewer people than Shadyside (about 40 compared to 550), and Chef Chris uses this as an opportunity to build relationships with the students there. “I ask students what they like, what they miss about their mom’s cooking,” says Chef Chris. “We like to get them as engaged as possible. Today we did a Korean barbecue.”

“We want to minimize waste, so we get creative with what we have. The other day we had some leftover salmon, so we made some salmon cakes, and then discovered that the salmon skin puffs up just like a crackling when you fry it.”

“I give my team as much as autonomy as possible,” says Chef Chris. “One time we had some nice potatoes left over, and someone had the idea of a Pittsburgh-style lasagna, using pierogis. And we smoke our own brisket, and had some left over, and we turned it into smoked brisket mac and cheese.”

Eden Hall Executive Chef Chris Galarza (third from the right) with his staff
Eden Hall Executive Chef Chris Galarza (third from the right) with his staff

“I don’t think the kids up here have taste buds,” laughs Chef Chris. “They eat some of the spiciest things I’ve ever had in my life. One of the Falk School professors, Ryan Utz, grows Chocolate Bhutlah peppers, which are eight times hotter than a habañero. We make hot sauce with that and they put it on everything. We go through a half gallon every two weeks.”

We get everything as close to local as possible. All of our dairy comes from Turner dairy – local. Eggnog, most of our veggies are from Eden Hall or local sources, squash. Braised beef cheeks from Cunningham’s Meats, pork from Hatfield’s.

“I’ve worked at some crazy cool places,” comments Chef Chris. “I’ve worked at a five-star resort, and Eden Hall is still way cooler.”

 

interview with Angie Jasper, Director of Cultural and Community Events

angie

Since 2014, the Eden Hall Campus Summer Series has been bringing entertainment and cultural events to the North Hills. This past summer, events included performances by the Pittsburgh Opera and the Improvised Shakespeare Company; a children’s festival; a bluegrass jam; farm-to-table dining events; and culinary workshops. We spoke with Angie Jasper, Chatham’s Director of Cultural and Community Events to get her reflections about the Series.

This past summer series, was there anything that happened that really surprised you?

For our classical music concert, I was really pleased by the turnout. It was a huge audience that came, lots of people traveled in from Pittsburgh. And everyone dressed up for the concert, like they were going to see a classical music concert in the city. That made it a lot of fun in the space.

We also had our first dance party! Right at the end of the J.D. Eicher and the Good Nights concert, that was really exciting—most of the stuff we do there is pretty low key, you know, in the bluegrass concert you want people to get up and move around, but we had a full on dance party, which I was super excited about. The audience was super into it and pushed for them to do an encore—I think they played I Feel Good—and the people just came right up to the stage and started dancing and having a good time. It was a great way to see out the night.

other summer series

How are you working on building the relationships between neighboring communities and townships around campus?

Alice Julier, program director and associate director of Food Studies) has been a huge help with that. She really has a good understanding of what’s happening in the community, as does Allen Matthews, director and instructor of Sustainable Agriculture), who’s the farm manager up there. I use them as a resource to know who are we working with, where are the students working, and how can we partner with them. I use them as a resource to engage the people up there to get involved.

Who proposes and teaches the sustainability workshops?

We talk with Falk School faculty members about what they’re interested in teaching and what we think community members are interested in learning. Falk School graduates teach workshops, too. Tony Miga, who was part of the inaugural class of the Masters of Sustainability, taught the oyster workshop and rainwater harvesting workshop, and Matt Kettleborn, who was the assistant farm manager, taught the composting one. We do try to keep it to those who work at Eden Hall, so we can showcase what we’re doing at the campus out to the community.

Of all that happened this summer, what are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of the fact we doubled our numbers from last year. Last year, we had 1000 attendees. This year, we had 2000. To see that growth for this new programming is awesome, because that’s what we do this for. We do these events for people to come and to see them, and to see the campus. For more people to know about us and come to repeat events was fantastic.

What are some other ways Eden Hall’s community outreach is evolving?

I think a big thing that’ll be coming up in April is the opening of The Commons. This will be the central hub of campus, open to the public, with its café also open to the public. I think that’ll make the campus much more accessible to the outside. There are also hiking trails coming to campus, public art will be coming, we’re opening a lot of spaces up for rentals.

If you wanted to have a wedding or reception, there’s the beautiful original barn; if you wanted to have a business meeting, there’s the field lab classrooms; for a birthday or graduation party, try the lodge, where there’s an old rec room, a patio that leads out onto the pool—all that is going to make us feel much more a part of the community. – Angie Jasper

We’ve also got Community Create Nights going on throughout the school year. Each month takes on a different topic across two sessions, based on what the Falk School faculty actually teach on campus and what types of programming we actually have going on up there, but on a much more manageable schedule for a beginner. They give a basic idea for what the rest of that course of study might entail. The schedule for those is online at chatham.edu/createnights.

And monthly dinners will be launching with the other farming partnerships Eden Hall has in the area. They’ll be BYOB, smaller scale than the farm-to-table dinners we put on in the summer, but they give a good look into what’s going on both at the school and at farms in the local areas. So all that is going on! You can find that stuff on our social media and you can sign up for an e-mail list at chatham.edu/summerseries to get the scoop on these kinds of events as they come up. There’s always a lot going on!