Eastern Shore Food Lab

Rethinking Food

The Eastern Shore Food Lab (ESFL) is an interdisciplinary research, teaching, and production laboratory dedicated to studying and experimenting with sustainable food systems, using the Eastern Shore food-shed as its primary context.

By researching the resources unique to the region based on weather, climate, soil chemistry, and microbial biology—and fusing historical foodways with modern technologies—faculty, students, community members, and collaborative researchers re-envision our food system, from how we define food to how we grow it and prepare it.

Campus Activity

  • Naturalist Kathy Thornton discusses ecology along the Sassafras River during the ESFL's Permaculture Orientation program.
    During Permaculture Orientation with the ESFL, students in the Class of 2023 explored how an understanding of nutrition and diet can lead toward ecological harmony.
  • Students in the Horizons program learned how to ferment foods in a special workshop led by ESFL interns.

    ESFL Interns Analiese Bush ’22 and Nicole Hatfield ’21 hosted students in the Horizons of Kent & Queen Anne’s County summer program for a workshop in making butter for freshly baked sourdough bread, and learning how to chop vegetables for sauerkraut to increase nutrient bioavailability in their food.

  • Students foraged for wild foods by kayak as part of the Fermentation Nation summer program.
    What’s it like to make a pizza from scratch? High school students from across the country spent a week in the ESFL learning to make sausage, cheese, and sourdough crusts.
  • ESFL interns Nicole Hatfield ’21 and Annaliese Bush ’22 harvest chicory in the campus garden. The young leave...
    In the inaugural summer of the Eastern Shore Food Lab, student interns are researching wild foods, mastering culinary skills, growing produce, and rethinking the food system.
  • ESFL Intern Alaina Perdon has a talent for cooking perfect tortillas.
    The Eastern Shore Food Lab is working to revive the ancient tradition of nixtamalizing maize for tortilla production.
  • ESFL Interns Julia Portmann and Kelsey McNaul won top awards at Commencement.
    Julia Portmann ’19 and Kelsey McNaul ’19 were instrumental in the launch of the Eastern Shore Food Lab this past year, and their efforts were recognized at Commencement as they garnered two of the most prestigious awards for graduating seniors.
  • Lanning Tyrrel observes the Chester River at twilight.
    The Eastern Shore Food Lab is establishing an outdoor learning space at the River and Field Campus for the study and production of wild foods, primitive technology, and ecological landscape design.
  • Alaina Perdon '22, Bill Schindler, and Shane Brill '03 M'11 represented the Eastern Shore Food Lab and Washington College ...
    An ESFL contingent participated in the Smithsonian’s Earth Optimism Teen Summit to join leaders in the conversation about food sustainability.
  • Master Chef John Nocita at the ESFL.

    Washington College’s Eastern Shore Food Lab opens its doors for the first time with Italian Culinary Institute Master Chef John Nocita giving two presentations on no-waste traditional food preparation.

  • Students traveled to the Atlantic Ocean to make salt.
    Students siphoned, filtered, and boiled seawater to form pure salt crystals on string.
  • Medieval May Day Celebration
    What does a resilient local food system taste like? Permaculture interns and Chaucer students sought to find out.
  • A site design concept by Emily Castle '18 includes spaces for people, wildlife, and food production.
    A new permaculture internship is helping students understand this multidisciplinary approach to ecological design, deepen their relationship with the natural world, and learn how they can cultivate harmony for people and wildlife.

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In the News

  • Dr. Schindler and ESFL Intern Nicole Hatfield '21 appeared on Maryland Public Television's State Circle program.
    Dr. Schindler and ESFL Intern Nicole Hatfield ’21 appeared on the State Circle broadcast segment produced by Maryland Public Television.
  • Dr. Schindler was interviewed via Skype in the Food Lab.
    CNN Newsroom consulted Dr. Schindler for insight into a story of human survival.
  • Edible Delmarva story on the ESFL
    06/01/19 Edible Delmarva
    Edible Delmarva’s feature story on the Eastern Shore Food Lab does a terrific job making the link between the lab’s academic and community missions, highlighting WC students and the work of lab Director Bill Schindler.
  • Chestertown Spy
    04/10/19 The Chestertown Spy

    Bill Schindler, Director of the Eastern Shore Food Lab, is interviewed by The Chestertown Spy. In this 10-minute video interview, he talks about why what the Food Lab has to teach students and the public is so critical to our health, diets, and the future of our food systems.

  • "You were what you ate" podcast on Foodie and the Beast
    Bill Schindler, Director of the Eastern Shore Food Lab, was interviewed by Nycci Nellis of “Foodie and the Beast” on a live broadcast from Washington, D.C., for the program’s “Industry Night” segment. Nellis called it “a mind-blowing interview.”
  • Article appearing in My Eastern Shore MD.
    “It’s about balance. It’s about connections. It’s about learning to live and eat like humans again,” say the Schindlers, Bill and Christina.
  • Learn True Health interview with Dr. Schindler.
    Director of the Eastern Shore Food Lab Bill Schindler discusses his journey to learn about ancestral diets.
  • Shane Brill's foraging at Adkins Arboretum appears in Shore Home and Garden magazine.
    Assistant Director of the Eastern Shore Food Lab Shane Brill ’03 M’11 on wild edible plants.
  • Bill Schindler interviewed on Peak Human podcast.
    Dr. Bill Schindler on food, our ancestors, and how we became human.
  • Inside Higher Ed interviewed Bill Schindler for The Academic Minute.
    Professor Bill Schindler is interviewed for Inside Higher Ed’s “The Academic Minute.”