Who We Are
Piedmont Picnic Project was co-founded by Elizabeth Weichel and Amanda Matson based on a common love of food history and historical food practices.
Elizabeth was probably destined to become a historian from the beginning.
She was born in a town with the prosaic name of “Central” that was created to be the bustling midpoint of a railway line connecting Atlanta and Charlotte. It was derailed (heh) by the Civil War, and eventually rerouted. However, the name remained, and the end of every summer brings the Railroad Festival to celebrate Central’s almost-famous destiny. There’s a raptor display in front of the old library, funnel cakes across the street from the fire station, and plenty of time to wander up and down the railroad tracks, smelling the tar from the crossties and contemplating the inanity of celebrating a past that never was.
She loves deviled eggs, fried okra, and the hilarious/tragic quirks of American history.
Her background is in history and museums, particularly in the South. She’s written a book about famous Raleighites (Legendary Locals of Raleigh).
Amanda can usually be found picking food out of her or her neighbors’ front yards and then preserving or fermenting it into some new tasty thing. Her interests and hobbies likely parallel those of your grandmother’s.
Amanda grew up in a family that people now would probably call “homesteader light.” Things like making your own maple syrup in suburban Ohio made her feel like a weirdo growing up! It wasn’t until she came back to a lot of those same practices (gardening, preserving, foraging) as an adult that she saw their value and wanted to use and share those skills in the community.
Her background is in community research and advocacy, so she’s all about getting people involved in creating the kind of communities they want to live in. She thinks food is an important part of that.