Exploring Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus

An afternoon exploring Chatham’s University’s Eden Hall Campus, where academia and farming go hand in hand.  

Exploring Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus // www.WithTheGrains.com

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…

Exploring Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus // www.WithTheGrains.com

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.

Exploring Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus // www.WithTheGrains.com

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. 

Exploring Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus // www.WithTheGrains.com

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. 

Exploring Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus // www.WithTheGrains.com

“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.

Exploring Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus // www.WithTheGrains.com

The blueberries weren’t even ripe yet at Chatham University’s Eden Hall campus, and they were already so much plumper and juicier looking than grocery store varieties.

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!

Exploring Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus // www.WithTheGrains.com

“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.”

Exploring Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus // www.WithTheGrains.com

Nebraska born and corn fed, I can’t help but find myself amongst the stalks.

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. 

Exploring Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus // www.WithTheGrains.com

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. 

Exploring Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus // www.WithTheGrains.com

“…all I could think was ‘Damn I want to study something here.'” 

Exploring Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus // www.WithTheGrains.com

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.'” 

Exploring Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus // www.WithTheGrains.com

The Urban Farmer fitting right into Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus and looking like a campus brochure featured student

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.

Exploring Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus // www.WithTheGrains.com

Exploring Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus // www.WithTheGrains.com

The Field Lab / Aquaculture Lab at Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus

Exploring Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus // www.WithTheGrains.com

The Esther Barazzone Center at Chatham University’s Eden Hall campus houses a kitchen, classrooms, meeting spaces and even a root cellar!

Exploring Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus // www.WithTheGrains.com

The green wall and stepped seating inside the Esther Barazzone Center at Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus.

Exploring Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus // www.WithTheGrains.com

Exploring Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus // www.WithTheGrains.com

Exploring Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus // www.WithTheGrains.com

Like a kid in a candy shop, the Urban Farmer at Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus

Exploring Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus // www.WithTheGrains.com

Exploring Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus // www.WithTheGrains.com

X marks the spot for natural treasures

Exploring Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus // www.WithTheGrains.com

The old apple orchard at Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus

Exploring Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus // www.WithTheGrains.com

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.

Cheers,

 

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Egg Salad Sandwiches for a Picnic at a Vintage Car Show

Egg Salad Sandwiches for a Picnic at a Vintage Car Show // www.WithTheGrains.com

In addition to the many hats he wears- farmer, beekeeper, graphic designer, photographer, environmentalistthe Urban Farmer also wears a kilt from time to time. Marching and playing the bass drum in the Balmoral Pipe & Drum band is one of the very few activities that motivates my soil-loving fella to wear shoes. These kilt & shoe gigs have made for many a unique weekend adventure to cathedrals, parades, historical festivals, a “Tartan Day” and most recently to the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix.

Egg Salad Sandwiches for a Picnic at a Vintage Car Show // www.WithTheGrains.com

The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix is an annual car show and races right through the winding roads of Schenley Park, one of the city’s valuable green assets. In architecture school, we learned to use perspective and contour lines to translate our drawing professor’s slides (slides!) of Grand Prix automobiles to paper. Aside from the many sketches and hearing the yearly rumble of cars in race mode, I never really explored this massive gathering of car enthusiasts. However, bagpipe performances, vintage cars, and a sunny day in Schenley Park all called for a picnic, so I packed a farm-influenced egg salad, and to the car show I went!

Egg Salad Sandwiches for a Picnic at a Vintage Car Show // www.WithTheGrains.com

Strolling through but a small section of the Grand Prix, I gained a new appreciation for these car enthusiasts. I once discounted this annual event as a pompous waste of resources and a flashy display of expensive collections. While I still see elements of excess (i.e.: semi trucks, with more amenities than my apartment, for carting car collections?), I also came to see the celebration of design, quality, old values and the idea of building something to last.

Vintage Car Show // www.WithTheGrains.com

I had to quell the judgmental idealist inside me, acknowledge the charitable underpinnings of the event and simply indulge the side of me who believes in nostalgia, tradition and bringing people together. I also indulged the side of me who really just wants to cruise around town in a vintage, red beamer. After all, I am the owner of this beauty, who awaits some much needed love and care this winter (i.e.: when the Urban Farmer puts on his “mechanic” hat).

Vintage Car Show // www.WithTheGrains.com

Vintage Car Show // www.WithTheGrains.com

Vintage Car Show // www.WithTheGrains.com

Vintage Car Show // www.WithTheGrains.com

Vintage Car Show // www.WithTheGrains.com

I hadn’t the slightest understanding of the racing rules or categories, but the people and car watching enthralled me. Plus, I may have discovered my spirit animal in this real-life Luigi. Consider this a glimpse of my future, white overalls and all!

Vintage Car Show // www.WithTheGrains.com

Vintage Car Show // www.WithTheGrains.com

Vintage Car Show // www.WithTheGrains.com

Vintage Car Show // www.WithTheGrains.com

The engine of this forest green car (above) might be impeccable. It might trace its roots to a pastural English village. I have no idea. I was simply blown away by the leather detail on the spare tire!

Vintage Car Show // www.WithTheGrains.com

Vintage Car Show // www.WithTheGrains.com

Vintage Car Show // www.WithTheGrains.com

Vintage Car Show // www.WithTheGrains.com

Vintage Car Show // www.WithTheGrains.com

Vintage Car Show // www.WithTheGrains.com

Vintage Car Show // www.WithTheGrains.com

Vintage Car Show // www.WithTheGrains.com

Vintage Car Show // www.WithTheGrains.com

Vintage Car Show // www.WithTheGrains.com

Vintage Car Show // www.WithTheGrains.com

Vintage Car Show // www.WithTheGrains.com

I went for the bagpipes, the sunshine and the park picnic, but as it turns out, I’m really a sucker for a red, vintage set of wheels. Whether you’re browsing beamers, a flea market, or simply a park on a sunny day, try this egg salad for your next picnic. You’ll revel in some sandwich nostalgia made healthier and more vibrant by farm-fresh, seasonal ingredients.

Single-Grain

Bon Voyage!
-Quelcy

Farm Fresh Egg Salad Sandwiches

About this Recipe: Greek yogurt, dijon and local eggs come together with accents of local celery and sweet peppers. You don’t need to measure anything. Just trust your tastebuds and your eyes to achieve the right flavor, color and texture. Using local celery makes a big difference in flavor, and be sure to include the greens. Pick a flavorful mix of greens for the sandwich such as mustard greens, which add a pleasantly bitter accent, much like a hint of wasabi. For a little sweetness, add a slathering of organic relish to the bread.

[Read more…]

Wine-ing, Dining & Unwinding: Our Staycation at Choderwood

We could have been in Bali. We could have been in Thailand. We could have been in Peru. We could have been anywhere, and that suited me just fine. However, we were in Pittsburgh, hidden from all the familiar sites, soaking up the river views like we never had before. Though we were minutes from home, everything I brought with us was inspired by a trip that existed in the Urban Farmer’s head.

Choderwood by Quelcy 15

Before visions of farming fully took over his head space, the Urban Farmer had planned to celebrate his big 3-0 jeeping, surfing and beach bumming from California to Chile. Fortunately for me and for this city, he chose Pennsylvanian soil, instead of white sand, between his toes. To celebrate the travels that will come in due time, and to celebrate our one year of shared time, we escaped to Choderwood. There, the greenery and big expanse of sky encapsulated us, and our minds were free to wander wherever they chose.

Choderwood by Quelcy 56

Themes, narratives, and stories fill my head. They guide my menus, my decor, my designs, even my outfits. I forget that not everyone thinks this way, not everyone picks a bottle of wine based on what they would pick if they were in Argentina’s wine country. If you too find yourself arranging bouquets of lavender to transport you to Provence, or hovering over a pot of paneer to try to imagine how a spice market might smell in Mumbai, then the themes guiding our staycation might seem second nature, even intuitive.

Choderwood by Quelcy 49

These menus were not my most intricate, and there were no recipes, but should you want to channel some South American dreams of your own, maybe you too will grab a bottle of Malbec and head to a scenic view. Maybe you’ll browse the wine store with confidence as you judge the bottles by their labels alone. Take these ideas as far as you want, and if you’re not the visual, imaginative, theme-driven type (and that’s ok indeed!), maybe you’ll gain a faint glimmer of understanding of what it’s like inside the theme party that is my head.

Choderwood by Quelcy 59

These concepts and narratives are jumping off points, and when it comes to unplugging, they’re not meant to be complicated. Ultimately, all the wine-ing, dining and unwinding felt (and should feel) a little like this tune

With your feet on the air and your head on the ground
Try this trick and spin it, yeah
Your head will collapse
But there’s nothing in it
And you’ll ask yourself

Where is my mind? 

Choderwood by Quelcy 60

Way out in the water
See it swimmin’

I was swimmin’ in the Caribbean
Animals were hiding behind the rocks
Except the little fish
But they told me, he swears
Tryin’ to talk to me, to me, to me.

Choderwood by Quelcy 48

The Urban Farmer found his spirit animal in this black cat, who kneaded his legs and nestled against him. I, however, found him mocking me sarcastically.

Choderwood Pool Antiques

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Choderwood by Quelcy 39

Choderwood by Quelcy 17

Choderwood by Quelcy 42

Choderwood by Quelcy 14

Choderwood by Quelcy 13

Choderwood by Quelcy 41

Choderwood by Quelcy 03

Choderwood by Quelcy 33

Choderwood by Quelcy 32

Choderwood by Quelcy 31

Choderwood by Quelcy 28

Afternoon Snack Menu:

Tortilla chips, guacamole & salsa
mango lemonade
snap peas
Guajillo Chili Chocolate Mexicano by Taza

Taza Chocolate

A snack of chips and salsa is surely not the most creative menu I have put together, but I imagined how the Urban Farmer would have worked his way through Mexico, adding spice and heat to everything he ate. In between chili chocolate bites, he would have had his fill of the sweet juicy mangos. Once he ate those mangos and avocados, nothing else would ever compare.

Choderwood by Quelcy 30

Choderwood by Quelcy 62

Dinner was an equally simple interpretation- sprouted grain quesadillas with quinoa, corn, grilled chicken, salsa, avocados, a dollop of Greek yogurt and repeated glasses of Argentine wine. The theme was never meant to be an intensive culinary exploreation. With such a changing, dramatic backdrop, simplicity was key.

Choderwood Wine Dinner

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Choderwood by Quelcy 70

Choderwood by Quelcy 61

Choderwood by Quelcy 66

Without phones, projectors or computers, we reveled in the sun vanishing behind an ominous gray sky while playing Twenty Questions. We reveled in a very drastic change of pace that gave way to a morning of peachy tones rendering a brand new scene.

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Impressionist painters would have chased this scene with chaotic brush strokes, but we watched it slowly and blissfully, enjoying the wholesome breakfast that magically appeared at our dock in true B&B fashion.

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Choderwood by Quelcy 74

Choderwood by Quelcy 75

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Whether we were in Pittsburgh or pretending to be far, far away, whether we were crafting narratives or watching our mind float away with the waves, we were able to enjoy every minute. Time stood still, and we were able to disconnect all the stressful thoughts and just enjoy a river, many trees, fruity notes and spicy bites.

Single-Grain

-Quelcy

A Staycation at Choderwood, Part II

A Staycation at Choderwood // www.WithTheGrains.com

I have been in Pennsylvania more than I have not been in Pennsylvania.

This realization bewilders me. I’ve never really felt like a Pennsylvanian. I feel no allegiance to Pennsylvania. I was born a midwesterner, and though we moved when I was minuscule, my family never embraced Pennsylvania as home. Philadelphia was so close to us, but we fell shy of its strong cultural influences. Instead, my upbringing was set against the cookie-cutter backdrop of suburbia.

A Staycation at Choderwood // www.WithTheGrains.com

When is a city your city?

From the burbs, I ventured to college in Pittsburgh, but the university was its own microcosm, a mini globe on a parcel of manicured lawns. Carnegie Mellon, unlike the city,  was very much a part of my identity. Based on time and location, you could call me a Pittsburgher, but this city has always felt more like a backdrop than a fiber of my being. Our values don’t always align. Our ambitions don’t always align, and I surely do not wave a terrible towel.

A Staycation at Choderwood // www.WithTheGrains.com

Yet, here I am. I may never feel or claim to be a Pittsburgher, but I’ll take its growing amenities. I’ll sip the finer coffee drinks. I’ll watch the progress, and I’ll occasionally treat myself to the finer food scenes, but ultimately, I just want to carve my own world from its grid. I want to carve a world where nooks and crannies are curated, where the earth and sky feel clean and safe, where the food is always trustworthy, where simple details help me appreciate each passing day. (See why I fell for that Urban Farmer fella?)

A Staycation at Choderwood // www.WithTheGrains.com

Steve and Jody Choder did exactly that! They carved out a world, Choderwood, where the city fades away, where the rootless can relish how placeless they feel, where little details await discovery. They carved out a world where the rivers are celebrated and where relaxation enraptures you in minutes. It’s blissful.

A Staycation at Choderwood // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Staycation at Choderwood // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Staycation at Choderwood // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Staycation at Choderwood // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Staycation at Choderwood // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Staycation at Choderwood // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Staycation at Choderwood // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Staycation at Choderwood // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Staycation at Choderwood // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Staycation at Choderwood // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Staycation at Choderwood // www.WithTheGrains.com

If you’re looking for a mental, physical and spiritual escape, follow the trail to this dock, and spend a night on this houseboat. It’s a wonderful world unto itself, one that will inspire you, should you, like me, be hoping to carve your own corner.

Single-Grain

-Quelcy

A Houseboat Staycation at Choderwood (Anniversary Experience #2)

“Pack your guitar, your swimsuit and maybe a book…anything that helps you relax,” I told the Urban Farmer.

It was time for Experience #2 in my series of Surprise Anniversary Adventures! 

A Houseboat Staycation // www.WithTheGrains.com

A staycation at Choderwood was just the escape we needed!

If you were going to beach bum and surf through South America, as the Urban Farmer had once intended to do, you might find yourself on a houseboat. This was my inspiration for Surprise Anniversary Adventure #2. (Surprise #1 was all about Star Gazing.) We were only driving a few miles from home, but once we arrived at the surprise destination, we may as well have been a continent away!

A Houseboat Staycation // www.WithTheGrains.com

“This is Choderwood, and we’re going to stay on a houseboat!” 

After a very short car ride, we arrived at the entrance’s wooden gate. “Do you know where we are?” I asked the Urban Farmer, who “jokingly” had guessed I was taking him to the wave pool. He still had no idea.

A Houseboat Staycation // www.WithTheGrains.com

For a city so branded by its rivers, Pittsburgh offers so few chances to interact with the riverside.  

What Steve and Jody Choder, owners of Choderwood, offer is both a chance to escape and to celebrate the city in one revitalizing experience. They have transformed what was once a private, lock master’s riverside home into an urban retreat, with beautiful gardens, a pool, a hot tub, chickens, ducks, hammocks and two houseboats- Namaste and Boho. We arrived at Namaste, our floating home for the night, shut off our phones and lost ourselves in much needed r&r!

A Houseboat Staycation // www.WithTheGrains.com

We stayed at this oasis for a day and a half, but my mind, body and spirit felt as if we had escaped for weeks! Time seemed to move more slowly, as we let ourselves just stare into the distance. There were so many beautiful details, and each scenes changed with passing clouds and breezes. Even the rainy spells were mesmerizing.

A Houseboat Staycation // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Houseboat Staycation // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Houseboat Staycation // www.WithTheGrains.com

Without schedules or to-do lists, we set about exploring our floating home and then sipping the more extravagant cold-brew coffee I had packed in my “glamping” arsenal.

A Houseboat Staycation // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Houseboat Staycation // www.WithTheGrains.com

“Namaste” felt so expansive, with smart space-saving design elements and just the right finishing touches by Steve and Jody. Plus, what other B&B in this city is going to offer river views like these?

A Houseboat Staycation // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Houseboat Staycation // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Houseboat Staycation // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Houseboat Staycation // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Houseboat Staycation // www.WithTheGrains.com

The boat even had a bathroom! I had mentally prepared to “rough it” on this front, but much to my surprise, this really was glamping in all its plumbed glory.

A Houseboat Staycation // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Houseboat Staycation // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Houseboat Staycation // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Houseboat Staycation // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Houseboat Staycation // www.WithTheGrains.com

We almost missed the most efficient use of the boat’s space. What I had assumed was a small cabinet turned out to be another bunk!

A Houseboat Staycation // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Houseboat Staycation // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Houseboat Staycation // www.WithTheGrains.com

The Urban Farmer did bring his guitar, his board shorts and an intense desire to nap, which are all the goals you need when visiting a place like Choderwood. I’m not as naturally gifted when it comes to daytime snoozing, so I’m lucky to have such a talented master in my midst.

A Houseboat Staycation // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Houseboat Staycation // www.WithTheGrains.com

We were uniquely in Pittsburgh, but we were also rootless. It was just the escape I needed to quell some of the wanderlust inside me. Stay tuned for dinner scenes and more glimpses into this magical riverside retreat!

Single-Grain

Namaste!
-Quelcy

ps: If you want to experience this for yourself (and I hope you do get the chance!), check out Choderwood’s Air BnB listingDisclaimer: This post was sponsored by Choderwood, but all opinions and states of relaxation are mine!

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