Williams Sustainable Growers gets planting!

This spring, the Williams Sustainable Growers (WSG) continued their work from last fall at Parson’s Garden. In 2020-21, the pandemic hit the garden club hard, with restrictions on event sizes that limited the scale of the garden. In addition, last year marked ten years since the construction of Parson’s Garden which, while exciting, means that the infrastructure is showing signs of age.Man in flannel shirt demonstrates beekeeping skills to a group of students

Thus, this year’s theme has been the revitalization of the garden club. We have done some updating of the garden facilities, and have even been able to hold some events in the garden! Two weeks ago, we set up an outdoor table out back, as well as two trellis archways, and we have plans to build new benches for students and others to be able to fully enjoy the garden space. For people who will be here this summer, keep an eye out for some vining plants growing up and over the arches!

Early spring garden showing covered beds and a metal arbor

Thanks to the help of so many people, we were able to host a number of big events this year. In collaboration with the Queer Student Union, the Williams Sustainable Growers hosted a spring garden party with grilling, music, and planting flowers with connections to queer history including pansies, lavender, and roses. The WSG also celebrated Earth week with a full week of activities. The week started with mason bee house building, where we constructed natural houses for solitary bees. Look out for the decorated bee houses around campus under the overhangs of roofs! Earlier this year, we started several trays of herb seedlings to give away during the Earth Week fair on Paresky lawn, and ended up distributing over 50 herb and flower plants. The week wrapped up with a trip to the house of longtime beekeeper Tony Pisano’s urban homestead where we learned about beekeeping and urban gardening, and spent time with a small flock of very friendly chickens.

Group of people gathering in the garden on a foggy morningAs our last frost date approaches, the garden is completely transforming every week. This past week, as beets, carrots, radishes, and tatsoi sprouted, we spread the first bit of our new compost pile on two of our garden beds. In them, we transplanted the first of the seedling transplants we started in March. We are also so excited to see our longer projects develop. In addition to the projects of mulched paths and cover crops, the garlic we planted last fall has come back incredibly healthy– next fall, perhaps we will bring back an old WSG tradition: Garlic Fest!

Next week, many of our seed starts will be planted out, and we will begin preparations for the real growing season to begin. Though most students will be heading off campus for the summer, the garden will be tended to by two Zilkha Center interns who will care for the plants until it is time to harvest them in the fall. We look forward to celebrating with you then!

-Lydia von Schwanenflugel (’23)