As part of the increasing attention to food sustainability at Williams and with the support of the Zilkha Center, the Williams College Sustainable Growers student group was established in spring of 2010, to highlight the relationship of food culture and environmental issues, and raise consciousness on campus about the consequences of our individual and collective dietary choices.
The Sustainable Growers broke ground in a highly visible location in front of Parsons House in early April 2010; 12 raised vegetable garden beds were constructed. In September 2010, 4 additional raised beds were added to the Parsons Garden site; in May 2010, the garden group revitalized a second site at Kellogg House and in September 2010, a third garden site was planted at the President’s house. At the intersection of residential, culinary, intellectual, and extracurricular life, the Williams campus garden provides the entire Williams community with the opportunity for hands-on engagement with our foodways and culture. The gardens act as visible focal points that initiate conversation on ecological agriculture and provide a practical understanding of where food comes from and how we can take an active, responsible role in growing it.
The Williams gardens are much more than a home for over 80 varieties and a source of delicious, organic produce. Food bridges communities and brings people to the proverbial table – to share, eat, and collaborate. Importantly, the garden presents innovative opportunities to incorporate food as a mode of discourse within the curricula of many academic disciplines. The garden teaches planning, marketing and distribution skills, and provides the base for many wonderful inter-cultural, extracurricular meals and programs with community groups, local schools and regional farms.