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Eden Hall Campus: A Hub for K-12 Sustainable Education Efforts

Eden Hall Campus was envisioned as a beacon for current and future generations who wish to work toward a more sustainable way of living. Today, Eden Hall Campus delivers this vision through bachelors and masters-level programs and an unparalleled range of opportunities for sustainability-themed experiences for K-12 students in the Pittsburgh area.

Powered by grants made possible by both the Grable Foundation and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, Kelly Henderson, LEED AP O+M, is finishing her second year as Eden Hall K-12 Education Coordinator, and the Sustainability Leadership Academy Director.

“Our hope is to empower and inspire students to create real change in their schools and communities by exposing them to new ideas and technologies, connecting them to the natural world, and making what they are learning in school come to life with purpose,” said Henderson.

With these programs, Chatham University aims to help students and educators become confident in their passion for sustainable initiatives and less overwhelmed about the question, “where do I start?”

One of the places students can start is the upcoming Seeds of Change: Igniting Student Action for Sustainable Communities conference scheduled to take place at Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus on Tuesday, March 7th, 2017 from 10am – 1:30pm.  The conference will feature up to 100 students from 20 local schools sharing their work on an ongoing or current project that is helping to make their school or community more sustainable.

The Eden Hall K-12 Education program includes field trips, K-12 educator programming, special projects and overnight programs.

FIELD TRIPS TO THE EDEN HALL CAMPUS have been incredibly successful with more than 2,000 visitors from school districts in the tri-state area over the past 2 years. Field trips are designed for fourth through eighth grade students and ninth through twelfth grade students and include exploring topics in sustainability through activities involving:

Built Environment

  • Rain barrels and green infrastructure
  • Wastewater filtration
  • Passive solar design challenge
  • Solar thermal design challenge
  • Materials, products and air quality

Sustainable Agriculture

  • Aquaponics
  • Integrated pest management
  • Mushrooms
  • Food products
  • Farm service

Ecology

  • Biodiversity survey
  • Watersheds and macroinvertebrates
  • Geocoaching

Through Eden Hall’s K-12 EDUCATOR PROGRAMS, teachers can experience the pedagogy and practices behind Project Based Learning (PBL) through partnership programs.  They will also discover how they can take those same principles of sustainability content into their classrooms to create opportunities for student-driven learning through meaningful projects in their communities.

Pine Richland, South Fayette, Fort Cherry, Falk Lab School, Pittsburgh Schiller STEAM Academy 6-8, and others have produced or are in the process of creating school and community-based, student-driven projects. These projects range from school recycling and compost system overhauls to designing and installing micro-scale renewable energy systems to launching awareness campaigns to get teachers to utilize existing outdoor spaces on school grounds during class time.

At Pine Richland’s Eden Hall Upper Elementary, among the many ongoing projects the school is developing in collaboration with Chatham, the Sustainable Architectural Design Challenge, facilitated by the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, has been a popular one with their past two years of sixth graders. This year, students were asked to create a model (using a 1/2-inch scale) showing how a storage barn on Chatham’s Eden Hall Campus can be converted into a place where kids their age could come in the summer to learn about sustainability.

“This project allows students to get a first-hand perspective and application in a real-world setting of sustainable and meaningful architecture and daily living,” said Eden Hall Upper Elementary’s Joanna Sovek. “The project ties into all parts of our curriculum: math, science, ELA, social studies, and art – which fully encompasses our district’s vision of the STEAM initiative.”

The work that begins in the elementary years continues through high school and right into college with the SUSTAINABLE LEADERSHIP ACADEMY (SLA). The SLA is open to rising 10th, 11th and 12th graders, as well as students who have just finished 12th grade. Participants become immersed in a robust hands-on experiential learning program for a full week with faculty in the field where they explore Pittsburgh during day-long guided tours of the city’s sustainable highlights, meet local leaders in sustainability and green building, develop the leadership skills needed to be a change agent, and make like-minded friends from across the country.

“Participating students discover a world of opportunities, not the least of which is that they’re meeting people with shared interests, passion and commitment to global health,” said Henderson.

High school students interested in sustainability also have the ability to apply for the RACHEL CARSON HEALTHY PLANET AWARD, which will be awarded to one deserving student nominated from each high school and community college throughout the United States, who embodies the spirit of Rachel Carson in his or her dedication to sustainability and community development. Healthy Planet Award recipients will also receive preferred consideration for the RACHEL CARSON SCHOLARSHIP, a full-tuition scholarship to attend Chatham University.

With more than 100 programs completed, work in the realm of K-12 education is continuing at Chatham’s Eden Hall Campus, creating a new hub for sustainability education.

“With the Eden Hall Campus K-12 programs, I anticipate our students taking away a more dynamic view of sustainability in terms of understanding what it encompasses; the impact of sustainable systems on a regional, state, national and global level; and an appreciation of the resources available in our region,” says Dr. Trisha Craig, Director of Curriculum & Instruction at Fort Cherry School District.

“I hope that the opportunity presents to them a more diverse viewpoint of sustainability. Students need to see that there is more beyond their backyard and local community.”

chatham resettles new residents

close-up of rainbow trout
Photos courtesy Tony Miga

It was an overcast Wednesday morning, but spirits were high as Eden Hall Campus welcomed its newest residents.

Over 20 people—including reporters from KDKA and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette—were on hand to greet the newcomers: 500 rainbow trout, non-native to Pennsylvania, here to be permanently resettled in their new homes: three fiberglass tanks, each standing about five feet tall and containing 500 gallons, in Chatham’s aquaculture laboratory.

The fish were briefly retained in buckets while last-minute logistics were worked out, but soon they were released, transported to their new residences in green, traffic cone-sized nets by Aquatic Laboratory Director Roy Weitzell, PhD, and his research assistant, Master of Sustainability student Samantha Harvey ’18.

release

Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), are native to the West Coast of the US. “They are relatively hardy, certainly as compared to our native brook trout,” says Weitzell. “My plan is to use the experience we gain with rainbow trout to culture the native brook trout.” Rainbow trout are stocked widely throughout the northern and eastern US, and widely used in aquaculture globally.

“You can’t ask for a more photogenic fish,” notes Sarah Hamm, Social Media Manager at Chatham University.

“Rainbow trout are one of the most widely studied aquaculture species, so we know a lot about their biology,” Weitzell continues. “We’re confident that we can successfully raise them in our system. This should open the doors for any number of research projects dealing with culture and conservation of the trout native to Western PA.”

The 5-to-6-inch collaborators, who declined requests for an interview, were delivered by Laurel Hill Trout Farm, in a hatchery truck with tanks outfitted with temperature control and supplemental oxygen. The fish had lived their whole lives at the farm.

truck

The aquaculture lab is used in undergraduate and graduate courses and projects led by Weitzell and colleagues at the Falk School of Sustainability & Environment, including Sustainable Aquaculture, Aquatic Ecology, and Basic Agroecology. It’s also regularly used for a variety of K-12 outreach efforts, including aquaponics workshops for students and teachers.

The Falk School of Sustainability & Environment is a wellspring for leadership and education dedicated to addressing sustainability challenges across a range of environments. Through hands-on experience, assistantships, summer immersion programs, community engagement, and a robust academic foundation, students emerge as professionals that will transform thinking in the fields that comprise sustainability. 

 

global food garden at Eden Hall Campus

global-food-garden_crop

The idea started in the “Food Culture and History” course taught by Alice Julier, PhD, Program Director and Associate Professor in the Master of Arts Food Studies program in Chatham’s Falk School of Sustainability & Environment.

“As part of the course, students are assigned a region of the world, and they research the cuisine and culinary practices of a part of it,” says Alice. “What I’ve found over the years is that they need to talk about the ingredients that go into those cuisines. Imagine places that consume a lot of rice, potatoes, corn—those staple crops define cuisines. So now, we focus on the agriculture as much as the culture.”

Thus was the Global Food Garden born. It’s a fenced-in 26,205 sq. feet, right by the Lodge, north of the old glass greenhouse. The Garden’s current caretaker, Jenalee Schenk, is a two-time Chatham alumna, having graduated in 2010 with a BA in Professional Communication and Visual Arts, and in 2012 as a member of the first cohort of the Master of Arts in Food Studies program.

Some of the Global Food Garden’s highlights:

Latin American garden
• Purple and pink Peruvian potatoes
• Ten varieties of chiles
• Tomatillos
• Jicama
• Mexican midget tomatoes
• Mexican sunflowers
• Epazote (an herb that aids digestion)
• Cape gooseberries, also known as ground cherries

Mexican sunflowers
Mexican sunflowers

“One of our students from Guatemala wanted to try a traditional meso-American agro-forestry crop design,” says John R. Taylor, PhD, assistant professor of Sustainable Agroecology. “We had been looking for a place to plant corn, so we decided to do it as a traditional ‘three sisters garden’ from Native American culture.” The three sisters are corn, beans, and squash. Corn shades the beans and provides a pole for their vines to climb. Beans provide nitrogen for the corn and help to stabilize the plants; and the squash provides a heavily shaded ground cover to prevent soil moisture from evaporating.

John walks me through other field experiments that the students have set up. “It looks like the Brandywine tomatoes are susceptible to early blight,” he says. “But that’s farming, right? You’re constantly experimenting.” Students are evaluating not only eight different varieties of tomatoes, but also methods of spacing them—double vs. single row, high density, vs. lower density.

Ethiopian garden
Teff is a traditional Ethiopian grain crop with tiny little seeds, and right now it looks like elegant, long, brown fronds taking a sweeping bow. “It was really beautiful until it rained really hard and all fell over,” laughs John. Also featured in the Ethiopian garden:

• Collard greens
• Ethiopian ground pepper
• Herbs and spices including cilantro and black cumin
• An Abyssinian red banana that came from e-bay. “It doesn’t really have an edible banana, and is mostly used for fiber,” he says. “But during times of food shortage, you can eat the interior of the stem. It’s edible-ish.”

Abyssinian red banana
Abyssinian red banana

Pan-Asian garden
“We have some Thai crops, some Chinese crops,” says John. “A lot of what we’re doing here is new to us. For instance, this pink Thai tomato looks like it’s starting to ripen, but I’m not really sure when it’s ripe.”

• Sesame
• Lemongrass
• Adzuki beans
• Asian varieties of eggplants
• Different varieties of peppers
• Thai basil
• Bunching onions
• Thai baby watermelons. “I was trying to get them to grow up this trellis, but they seem to just want to trail. Maybe they’ll help suppress some of the weeds,” says John.

Thai baby watermelon
Thai baby watermelon

The ranges of varieties are part of the research component of the Global Food Garden. “We’re looking at not only interspecies but also intraspecies crop variety,” says John. “For example, here we’re comparing two varieties of cabbage – Chinese and Napa. We’re looking at criteria like weight, flavor, and disease/insect resistance. These Napa cabbage are like little insect motels. The leaves are loose enough that they just get in there. They’re beautiful, but not very insect resistant,” he laughs.

The Global Food Garden is also hosting three different verities of rice – a Japanese sushi variety, a variety called Carolina Gold that was brought by enslaved people to the southern US in 1700s, and Russian variety called Duborskian. “Rice doesn’t need to be grown in a paddy, and we’re trying to see if we can propagate it here,” says Alice. “We are a world of immigrants, and we migrate.”

What are the plans for the crops grown in the Global Food Garden? “In the fall, we’ll use some of the crops in different classes, for example, in a fermentation course. I’ll probably focus on medicinal herbs,” says Alice. Some of the plants will be moved into the greenhouse. In tropical climates, crops such as tomatoes are perennials; not so here.

But that comes later. “The first thing we’re going to do is have a feast when the new students get here,” says Alice. “It’s one of the ways we share what we’re doing with our new students and with our returning students. Take everything out of the garden and have a fantastic party.”

Chatham’s Master of Arts in Food Studies in the Falk School of Sustainability emphasizes a holistic approach to food systems, from agriculture and food production to cuisines and consumption, providing intellectual and practical experience from field to table.

The whereas’s heard ’round the region

EBC-Exterior
The Esther Barazzone Center, dedicated April 28, 2016

 

An hour and a half before guests were due to arrive, drizzle turned to rain and Eden Hall Campus (EHC) sprang quietly into action:

  • Gravel pathways made it easy for water to sink into the earth, rather than run off, as would happen with concrete.
  • The rainwater harvesting system collected the rain, cleaned it, and rerouted it for use for irrigation and other non-potable duties.
  • Raingardens filled with native plants soaked it all in.
  • Crops that will feed Eden Hall community members were watered.

Impressive as that might sound, EHC does so much more than deal intelligently with stormwater, and the completion of the first phase of building that makes it all possible is only one of the reasons that 250 people have ventured into this gray morning on April 28 to gather here in celebration.

As guests arrived, shaking off umbrellas and marveling at what was for many their first look at the new Commons building, there was an excitement in the air that even the prospect of an Eden Hall-sourced lunch did little to quell.

The opening remarks and the lunch
In nature, nothing exists alone, begins the donor wall in the entranceway of the new building. This quote from Chatham alumna Rachel Carson pinpoints a sense of shared experience that President Esther Barazzone echoed in her opening remarks. “This is an absolute thrill for all of us to see so many of you taking part in our first communal meal here.”

Esther was followed by Sigo Falk, chair of the erstwhile Falk Foundation and Chatham Board member since 1981, who noted the multiple dimensions of sustainability, including social justice. Then lunch was served, family-style, and guests feasted on Arugula and Pickled and Roasted Beet Salad with Honey Beet Vinaigrette and Popcorn Croutons; Apple Whiskey Glazed Pork and Rye Berry Pilaf; and Braised Rainbow Chard and Kale, all grown at Eden Hall or sourced from Hatfield Meats or Wigle Whiskey.

lunch

After lunch, guests heard  from Richland Township Manager Dean Bastianini, State Representative Hal English, and Director of the Southwest Regional Office of the Governor Erin Molchany.

Eden Hall Campus is not only a model for sustainable design and net-zero mission nationally, but is also is the world’s first sustainable college campus. We love firsts, here in Pennsylvania. Especially firsts that put us on the global map. And we will continue to hold up Eden Hall Campus and the Commons Center as an example of what we can accomplish together.”
– Erin Molchany

The dedication
The Commons Dedication segment of the afternoon began with remarks from David Goldberg from Eden Hall architectural partner Mithūn. “I’m honored to have collaborated with Chatham Board of Trustees and the Chatham leadership team,” he said. “Esther—your vision and commitment to the project are just unmatched by anything we’ve ever seen.”

esther
Next, Jennifer Potter, Chair of the Chatham Board of Trustees told us that “bold vision, strong leadership, and an embrace of doing big things in a short amount of time have been the hallmarks of Esther’s presidency.” She declared it a great honor to read the resolution at hand, and exhorted guests to “bear with me, this is when I do all the ‘whereas’s’.”

Five whereas’s later: “Therefore, be it now resolved that the Board of Trustees approves dedicating the Commons at Eden Hall as the Esther Barazzone Center at Eden Hall Campus.”  The room rose to its feet, applauding. In a voice brimming with emotion, Esther thanked the Board.

This honor means the world to me. This Board has led me, and given me the privilege of saying that I helped lead them.”
– Esther Barazzone

She also thanked Chatham’s community partners, Richland, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. And finally, “Thank you especially to the faculty, the students and the others who work at Chatham. You are, of course, the heart, the soul, and the reason why we do these things. May you learn joyously here. ”

proclamation

The keynote speaker
Next, Falk School Dean Peter Walker introduced keynote speaker Barton Seaver—a young and charismatic sustainability-focused seafood chef turned academic and activist, who gave a dynamic and thought-provoking talk, beginning with the summers he spent as a child by the Chesapeake Bay.

“Every morning at the crack of dawn, I was down by the docks, gathering bluefish, blue crabs, spots, skate,” he said. “There was bounty in those waters, and that’s how I understood the world to be. Then later, when I opened my own restaurant and got to write my own menu, I was inspired by that time. I said ‘All right, let’s get bluefish, blue crabs, oysters…’ and my suppliers said ‘Kid, what are you talking about? We ate all those. What else do you want?’”

Seaver says that it was at that point that he realized that if we have the power to harm the oceans (and fish from the ocean have the power to harm us, through mercury levels), the flip side is that we can also use seafood to heal, and that we can restore the ocean’s systems. He sees it as a turning point in how he began to view sustainability—from a vantage point of guilt to a vantage point of opportunity.

barton

“In the U.S., we eat over 175 lbs per person per year of meat, compared to roughly 14 lbs per person per year of seafood,” said Seaver, calling the meager amount of omega-3 fatty acids in the diets of women of childbearing years in the U.S. “an epidemic.”

Seaver thinks deeply about messages of sustainability, how they’re delivered, and how those deliveries might improve. “I talk to people and then use their own words to explain why the oceans are important,” he said. “The word ‘environment’ practically never came up. Instead we talked about economics. Jobs. Culture, heritage, health.”

All too often what we hear is ‘Save the oceans!’ We’re not trying to save the oceans; we’re trying to save our reality around those oceans. We’re trying to save dinner. Frankly speaking, we’re trying to save ourselves.” – Barton Seaver

The denouement
Following Seaver’s address, guests broke for coffee, champagne, and Eden Hall Global Cow cookies (you had to be there). Guests were encouraged to roam about the Commons, where signs and staff members were positioned to provide information, and to join small group tours that that left from the Commons.

post-event

“Sustainability begins in our hearts and minds,” concluded Seaver’s address. “And fortunately, our hearts and minds have found a loving home”—he gestured around at the Esther Barazzone Center—“here.”

The opening was previewed by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and NEXT Pittsburgh

Living at Eden Hall

smaller
Eden Hall residence enjoy a soap-making workshop.

Last fall, Chatham welcomed its inaugural full-time student residents to the Eden Hall campus. We spoke with Graduate Resident Director Catherine Giles (Master of Sustainability, ’16) and Tenzin Lhakmon (MFA Creative Writing, ’17) about their time spent on this unique campus.

What sorts of things are available for you to do outside of class?

Tenzin: Eden Hall is a campus that is close to earth, environmentally speaking. You can hike the trails and there are events that you can take part in. And usually we have one or two events happening every week. For example, I recently took part in an event for soap making and yoga.

There’s a bowling alley in the Lodge, as well as a billiards table. We have workout equipment on the third floor of Orchard Hall. The trails remain open for the entire day and I’m constantly finding new paths that I hadn’t previously explored or realized connected. We have several consistent, popular events, such as Mug Club, Yoga, and Bluegrass Jam. And in the summer, students, faculty, and community members can come to Eden Hall Open Swim at the pool behind the Lodge. – Catherine Giles, MSUS ’16

Where do people socialize?

Catherine: Right now, people mostly socialize at the Lodge or where there’s food. In the future, I anticipate most people will socialize in the Commons. When there are events, like the Bluegrass Jam, we can get quite a few people to attend. Currently, most students, unless they live at Orchard, are only at Eden Hall for class.

cafe

How present is the mission of sustainability in day-to-day life?

Tenzin:
Living at Eden put us at the hearts of the sustainability mission and having to sort out your trash or your leftovers every day is an education in itself!! And recently I learned the dorm uses solar power for electricity that we have around the clock. It feels good to be a part of that.

Catherine: The mission of sustainability is everywhere at Eden Hall. I’m trained as a Tour Guide as well, and from that, I know all about how the infrastructure, down to the metals chosen for the outside of the buildings, were sustainably harvested or retrieved, and have a very specific purpose in the grand scheme of Eden Hall.

20845691213_21eb042c0d_k

Can you share a favorite moment you’ve had here that you might not have had living in a more traditional campus environment?

Catherine: At night, the paths are illuminated with lights aimed downward. In the summer, walking from the turnabout to the Amphitheatre, these lights attract insects. Frogs and toads frequently sit in front of the lights and feast for hours. And one time, I saw the Eden Hall bear. I was on the shuttle with another resident when the driver shouted, “Look there’s the bear!” and we all turned to see the bear running in front of the Lodge, across the street, and into the far tree line. Shadyside has squirrels, not bears!

Tenzin: Just living so close to nature, and also to the people. I feel like I have formed a very close and genuine relationship with the people here. The chefs and cooks at Eden Hall feel like family. And I am thankful to the Eden Hall Campus for bringing these people into my life. I really am.

WOW Retreat

What’s your favorite thing about living at Eden Hall?

Tenzin: The environment, the freshness of the surroundings, the wind, the flowers, the trees, the calmness… and of course, the people.

Catherine: My favorite thing about living at Eden Hall is that it’s so nature-oriented. I’m immersed in the wilderness, but my room is never too far away. Even when you’re “lost” in the woods, you always know where you are and how to get back home. As beautiful and quaint, as Shadyside is, Eden Hall just simply has more nature. I’ve seen the bear. I’ve seen the albino deer. I’ve stayed up late catching toads and getting my feet wet in the grass. On a cloudless night, you can lie on the Amphitheatre stage and clearly see the stars.

 

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!

 

Eden Hall Farm Summer Recap

work and pick

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.

garlicThere 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 timcarrotse 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.
edenhall-rye

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.

solar cooking

cooking with hot dogs

Grilling. Each summer, millions of people look forward to rethinking cooking—to stepping out of the kitchen and onto the grass, patio, or beach. Now you’re cooking with gas, as they say. Or with charcoal. With a non-renewable resource, anyway—as we do whenever we cook.

But what if you could cook with a renewable resource? Cook with the world’s first fire, and cut out the middlemen? That is the promise—and increasingly common practice—of solar cooking. Solar cooking works by using curved and reflective surfaces to concentrate the heat of the sun on a small surface area, where the food is placed.

In some places, it’s huge—literally and figuratively. The Solar Bowl in Auroville, India is 45 feet in diameter, and can cook two meals per day for 1,000 people.

Solar Bowl at Auroville
Solar Bowl at Auroville

But most solar cookers are quite portable, and inexpensive. They save cost by requiring no fuel, and reduce environmental damage produced by the use of fuel. And—with the right model—they can do anything from grilling meats and vegetables to making soup to baking bread.

Intrigued? Join us for an overview of all things solar cooking, plus demonstration and food tasting, on Saturday, July 18 from 9:30am – 1:00pm at the Field Lab at our Eden Hall Campus, in the North Hills. The event—which is free and open to the public—will include a tour of the campus, where you’ll see some of our 400+ solar panels. They generate enough energy to power 14 homes for a year, but can cook a hotdog only indirectly. Learn more and sign up today.

harvesting rainwater at Eden Hall Campus

ThinkstockPhotos-99234163_v2In January, Governor Jerry Brown called a drought State of Emergency in California. Five months later, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released data showing that May was the wettest month on record in the contiguous U.S. with an average precipitation total 1.45 inches above average. While these are two very different problems, they both point to “two sides of the same coin:” how we must manage water more effectively in our changing climate.

Pittsburgh is rainy: We get an average of 146 days of precipitation compared to a national average of 100 days. On those days, excess water – water that is neither collected nor absorbed by the ground – flows into storm drains. Underground, the stormwater system joins with our sewage system, and sewage and water travel together to be treated at the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN) wastewater treatment plant, which processes up to 250 million gallons of wastewater daily.

This system worked fine when it was built at the turn of the century, and it still works in dry weather. But the population has grown, and now whenever it rains more than ¼ inch, the system becomes flooded, and ALCOSAN must close its gates. Sewage flows into our rivers, streams, and creeks, carrying debris, chemicals, bacteria, and animal waste.

At Chatham University’s net zero Eden Hall Campus, we are modeling both innovative and age-old techniques around water management, including rainwater harvesting for collecting and using rainwater. For his thesis project, Master of Sustainability alumnus Tony Miga ’14 designed and implemented a rather large-scale rainwater harvesting system for Eden Hall. On a Friday in May 2015, it was used for the first time.

setup1
Barn and underground cistern tanks

Here’s how it works: Rain falls onto the roof of the storage barn, runs into the gutters, and is piped into three 1500-gallon underground cisterns, where it’s stored for use for irrigation. Overflow from the cisterns waters a nearby rain garden.

“Debris from the rooftops gets mixed in there,” Miga notes, and water is filtered six times, starting with fine mesh screens that fit over the gutters and ending with a UV filter that eliminates pathogens and other contaminants. “It’s probably overkill for our purposes,” he acknowledges. “We’re only using it for irrigation. There’s very little risk. We’re not spraying it, or bringing it into buildings. “

The state of the gutters before being cleaned

When the system is turned on, water runs from the cisterns, underneath a road, and into the moveable high tunnel and hoop house on the other side, where it’s used to water crops. It’s not the only source of water there – a line for municipal water was added for flexibility, back up, and research. Miga says that it allows them to experiment with using different types of water for growing. Harvested rainwater will also be used to irrigate the agriculture field.

hoophouse1
The moveable high tunnel and the hoop house

Miga anticipates that the rainwater harvest system will provide 35,000-40,000 gallons of water annually. He’s also proud that the project makes use of an existing structure, rather than calls for new construction. “We inherited this property, and we’re making an effort to use what is here,” he says.

At Chatham’s Eden Hall Campus,  rainwater harvesting is combined to manage stormwater runoff with permeable surfaces, natural drainage, 22,027 sf of infiltration galleries (small pipes in gravel that collect water when it rains), and almost 30,000 sf of rain gardens. Rain gardens feature deep-rooted native shrubs, perennials, and grasses that receive runoff from roofs, sidewalks, streets and parking lots, and hold the water in a shallow depression as it slowly infiltrates into the ground.

Eden Hall will also treat wastewater on-site, using a six-step system that can handle up to 6,000 gallons per day. Once disinfected, wastewater will be used for toilet flushing and irrigating land. Water quality will meet or exceed all State of Pennsylvania standards.

Learn more at chatham.edu/edenhall.