An afternoon exploring Chatham’s University’s Eden Hall Campus, where academia and farming go hand in hand.
Three years ago (and some change), I was sitting in my neighborhood coffee shop, when I ran into a close friend of mine. She was there for a coffee meeting with a particularly handsome fella, who I didn’t recognize from her normal group of activists. She introduced me, and I swear his blue eyes pinged like a cartoon when he looked at me. He asked if I needed anything (“so thoughtful,” I noted), and then came that feeling…
A kaleidoscope of butterflies (the very poetic and technical term!), swarmed into my stomach. This man had an effect on me- a “will the universe that our paths will cross” sort of effect (and they did!). We continued to bump into each other unexpectedly, but my very close friend schemed and orchestrated in the meantime. As you might have guessed, that fella became “the Urban Farmer,” and somehow three years have passed since we decided that we were all in.
I coined “the Urban Farmer” as his nickname because of his dreams of having his own pied-à-terre, but no matter where we may live, I know he’ll always try to make it a better, greener place. Even if, for some god-awful reason, he has to wear a suit and tie for the rest of his life, he’ll always be the Urban Farmer to me. His heart is in the soil, the air, the rain, the flowers, the bees and the fruits of the field. I love him because of the soil he nurtures in his heart, not because of the soil he holds in his hands.
In three years, I’ve learned a lot about him, but I’ve learned even more about myself. I’ve learned I need to speak up more (and conversely, shut up more too!), try to fix less, and just be there more. I’ve learned being independent and being guarded are not synonymous. I’ve learned just how much I love him and trust his love for me.
“A kaleidoscope of butterflies (the very poetic and technical term!), swarmed into my stomach. This man had an effect on me- a ‘will the universe that our paths will cross’ sort of effect.”
What better way to celebrate three years of love and learning, than to learn and build something together? In the three years I’ve known him, the Urban Farmer has always expressed an interest in sourdough bread making. As a grainy girl, I wholeheartedly supported this dream, so a sourdough bread making class with Shauna Kearns, at Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus (i.e.: the university’s farm campus), was the perfect way to celebrate our anniversary.
So, on a sunny Saturday, we went to Eden Hall to wrap our brains around starters, poolish, proofing, shaping and the grand experimentation that is baking bread. We left with our own starters, Polly and Penelope, some confusion and a willingness to try this long-honored tradition. We also left the workshop with a desire to explore our beautiful surroundings, and that we did!
“Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus is far more than a 388-acre plot of land. It’s the embodiment of a commitment Chatham makes every day to support sustainability and environmental education.”
More about Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus:
Located in Richland, PA and home to the Falk School of Sustainability & Environment, Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus is far more than a 388-acre plot of land. It’s the embodiment of a commitment Chatham makes every day to support sustainability and environmental education.
At Eden Hall, the campus doesn’t just house classrooms, but is a classroom. It’s an international showcase of possibilities and a laboratory where faculty and students collaborate to develop the next-generation tools and processes that will provide social, economic, and environmental benefits to our communities and to our world.
Many of my fiends, including the inspiring Hanna Mosca, are products of the Masters in Food Studies program at Chatham. That program has piqued my interest, but seeing Eden Hall’s greenhouses, fields and sustainable buildings had me ready to load up a backpack and head to class.
“…all I could think was ‘Damn I want to study something here.'”
As much as I loved school, the Urban Farmer would have preferred to be outside, but even he felt lured by Eden Hall’s charms. As he put it, “I’ve always hated school. I still remember clawing at the coat rack in pre-school refusing to go to class. Not much changed through college either. But walking through the solar-powered greenhouses and aquaponics labs, and ancient orchards, and the immense quiet that surrounds Chatham University’s Eden Hall, all I could think was ‘Damn I want to study something here.'”
Who knows? Maybe the Urban Farmer will become the Master Urban Farmer? Either way, inspiration washed over both of us, and the sheer quiet (even with a wedding starting in the background), brought a much needed moment of peace, a chance to poke around and feel like happy, adventurous children. It was a perfect Saturday under billowy blue skies.
Happy Anniversary to the Urban Farmer! I still need to bake us a cherry pie because that’s the tradition, but for now, our thoughts are on grainy loaves with thick crusts and gaping holes. Stay tuned for both, and if you’re near Pittsburgh, be sure to check out the events listings for Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus, so you can take in some of this beauty for yourselves.