Growing at WEPO

I spent the past year in the United Kingdom as a student in the Williams-Exeter Programme at Oxford (WEPO). WEPO is a collaboration between Williams and the University of Oxford’s Exeter College, which enables 26 Williams Juniors to study in Oxford’s tutorial system each year. While studying at WEPO, I worked as a collaborative intern between the Zilkha Center (ZC) and WEPO creating a garden space. I had interned for the ZC as one of the ‘66 Environmental Center Landscaping and Garden Intern during my first two years at Williams, so I was pleased to continue similar work across the pond this year.

Satellite map outlining the property - garden location marked by a red star in the back of the property
The WEPO complex north of Oxford. Location of the beds marked with red star.

My role as a garden intern was to launch an edible garden that will foster WEPO students’ connections with nature and provide them with a place for community building during a busy academic year.

The WEPO Complex is composed of three conjoined houses in the suburbs of Oxford, England. We put two new garden beds into the backyard of the WEPO Complex, which is easily accessible to the 26 WEPO students.

In the first bed, I planted broccoli, Swiss chard, cabbage, and turnips. I chose these vegetables since they are easy to manage over summer and will be ready for harvest when the next WEPO cohort arrives this fall.

The second bed will be planted with a garden of perennial plants by the coming intern, in line with the Zilkha Center’s attempts to plant majority perennial and edible plants around the ‘66 Environmental Center.

In the future, I hope the WEPO garden can help foster connections among WEPO students, between Williams students and Oxford students with shared gardening and harvesting events, and invite students to ponder similarities and differences between the environment in the Berkshires and in Oxfordshire, UK.

– Theo Detweiler ‘24