Archive for January 23rd, 2014

January 23, 2014

Lunching and Learning with BIA Fellow Jessi Turner!

by Melissa Harding


We were recently visited by BIA Fellow Jessi Turner for a special lunchtime lecture on her work with native ginseng populations. Jessi’s work involves more than just plants, but their effect on the culture and economy of the Appalachian region. In fact, much of her research involves the interactions that local ginseng harvesters have with the plants, the buyers, and the local regulating agencies. Over-harvesting, deer browse and land-use changes are threatening ginseng populations. Jessi is investigating the sustainability of ginseng harvest, especially in relation to surface mining. Ginseng is a plant that is culturally, medicinally and economically valuable and she hopes that her research will help to protect it for future generations!

Check out this great video that Jessi’s lab created to help ginseng harvesters be better stewards of their plants:

The above photo was taken by Molly Steinwald.

January 23, 2014

From the Ground Up: Urban Gardening Basics

by Melissa Harding

Jamie and group

As part of the Museums Connect program, made possible by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the American Alliance of Museums, Phipps is partnering with the Gidan Makama Museums in Kano, Nigeria to provide an immersive experience for 15 local high school students in each city. Participating students will learn about nutrition, cooking and cultural food traditions by following local food from farm to table and will be communicating with students at their partner institutions. This project will last from September to June, resulting in the creation of a community cookbook that will be designed and created by participating students. Students will also meet each month for a Saturday workshop involving activities designed to get them thinking critically about their food system and food culture. Calling themselves the Global Chefs, this group of students is excited to learn more about what food means in their lives.

For the first meeting of 2014, the Global Chefs were visited by a very exciting guest! Chef Jamie Moore, Director of Sourcing and Sustainability for the Eat ‘n Park group, a local chain of family restaurants, was on hand to help them create a wonderful meal. Joining him were Nancy Hanst and Alyce Amery-Spenser from Slow Food Pittsburgh. Together, they chose a menu from the students’ previously submitted recipes and came up with a delicious combination – green tossed salad, baked moi moi, spicy coconut shrimp soup and sweet potato pie. This was a pretty ambitious menu, but Chef Jamie helped the students pull it off smoothly, teaching them ways to be more efficient in the kitchen. He also modeled the importance of flexibility and substitutions, replacing a hard to find shrimp powder with homemade shrimp broth in the baked moi moi. Finally, he taught food presentation skills, helping the students to create beautiful, individual servings.

While half of the students were cooking, the other half learned about urban gardening and how they can tie their own food consumption to the land. Specifically, they talked about gardening in small spaces, using techniques like vertical growing and inter-lapping plants. They also learned the principles of compost and soil ecology and worked on garden planning.


Additionally, students shared the recipes that they brought for January’s assignment, which was to bring in recipes featuring vegetables. The recipes they brought ranged widely, including: cornbread; collard greens; summer steak salad; oven-fried onion rings; potato pepper stew; vegetable quiche; gajar halwa, a carrot and nut-based dish; samosas; vegetable stir fry; and pasta and broccoli. February’s assignment, which focuses on the upcoming cookbook, is to bring in a recipe that is presented in a visual mock-up that will represent their vision for the cookbook. The students are very excited and have lots of great ideas – we can’t wait to see what they come up with!

To see more photos from the day, check out the slideshow below!

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The above photos were taken by Kate Borger.


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