Student Profile: Rachel Waugh, MAFS '19



Eden Hall Campus has a history that we at Chatham celebrate. It connects to our focus on women’s leadership and gender equity, and the story, if you haven’t heard, is that Sebastian Mueller, an immigrant from Germany who moved to Pittsburgh to work for his cousin Henry J. Heinz, bought Eden Hall Farm, and used it (in part) as a retreat for women employees (read more here).

But that’s not the whole story. Today we know much more, thanks to Master of Arts in Food Studies student Rachel Waugh’s final project for the “Learning Through Food” class with Assistant Professor Chris Murakami.

The course is designed to help students develop their identities and approaches as food educators. “I absolutely loved the class,” says Waugh. “The focus was on questioning what we’ve learned about how teaching is supposed to work, and exploring alternatives.” 

As a final project, Waugh designed a tour of Eden Hall Campus that focuses on the earliest known occupants of the land, acknowledging that it “shares the legacy and continued violence of settler colonialism with the rest of the state and country.”

Waugh focuses on the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (which consisted of five first nations: Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, and Mohawks) as early inhabitants. “The Haudenosaunee Confederacy is often described as the oldest participatory democracy in the world, and its constitution is said to be the model for the United States’ Constitution,” she writes. In an effort to pay tribute to the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, Chatham commissioned the White Tree of Peace earth sculpture in the Esther Barazzone Center from Pittsburgh artist Julianne Sota, which the tour pauses to consider.

tree of peace.png

As it does, Waugh reads a part of Sota’s artist statement to the group.  The act of reading from the artist’s statement, and the tour in its entirety, highlights marginalized communities and members who have been part of the space’s history, and whose contributions have often gone undervalued or unseen.

Waugh’s tour winds across campus, visiting the forest, the orchard, the Lodge, the Barn, and other locations indoors and out. She shares facts about Eden Hall’s history, including the fact that there were at one time peacocks on the property, and that where the parking lot is now, there used to be a horse arena, complete with judging box. “The orchard is a bit of a mystery, because of scant records other than maps,” says Waugh. It’s known that the orchard used to be much larger (around 100 trees, compared to around 20 today), but it is not known who planted them. Nor is it known, outside of a couple of exceptions, what varieties of apples are represented in the Orchard. On the tour, Waugh quotes a Chatham alumna, Maria Joseph ‘13 as hypothesizing that since  ‘Eden Hall farm was not far from the Butler Railroad line ... it is quite possible that the trees of Eden Hall orchard arrived ready to be planted after having traveled hundreds of miles in a boxcar[1].’

Unknown. (n.d.). Picnic at Eden Hall Farm: People Having Lunch Outside at Eden Hall. Retrieved from Chatham University Archives & Special Collections.

Unknown. (n.d.). Picnic at Eden Hall Farm: People Having Lunch Outside at Eden Hall. Retrieved from Chatham University Archives & Special Collections.

The tour culminates in a shared meal. Dishes are designed in consideration of the land’s agricultural history and include a corn and bean succotash (referencing the Haudenosaunee Confederacy’s staple crops, known as “the Three Sisters”—beans, corn, and squash), rose tea to reflect the relaxation aspects of the land and reference a rose garden that had been present on the Farm, and apple crisp, which, Waugh writes, “unites the Orchard production prior to the Heinz retreat, the sunbutter to represent the Haudenosaunee Confederacy as the Fourth Sister, and the maple syrup as a product of Chatham University.” The complete tour runs about an hour and a half, dining included.

For Waugh’s master’s thesis, she plans to design a museum exhibit around food and immigration. To that end, she’s traveling to Brooklyn to meet with alumna  Catherine Piccoli, MAFS  ’12 of the Museum of Food and Drink to learn about Catherine’s experience curating museum exhibits.  

Waugh is also interning at the Hillman Family Foundations, researching grant requests and areas of interest to the foundations, including economic and community development; food economy; arts education; and health and human service. She’s also researching food incentives and food funding initiatives in other cities to inform the legacy foundations' investments.

So far, Waugh has done the complete tour once and an “edited version” for this year’s Food Studies students and the undergraduate food systems class. She’s currently investigating offering it for a couple of conferences this fall. In the meantime, she’s glad to have had the chance to allow future generations to “really get the story of all that has happened (around the lands of Eden Hall Campus). After creating the tour, I loved walking around campus so much more, because there was so much history there.”

Chatham's Master of Arts in Food Studies in the Falk School of Sustainability & Environment 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.

  1. Joseph, M. Memoir of an Orchard: Understanding Orcharding Practices in Western Pennsylvania of the Past Century as an Historic Foundation for Organic and Sustainable Fruit Production. [Thesis]. Pittsburgh, PA: Chatham University, 2013.


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