Natalie and Daniel introducing the meal they’ve created. Beets are a recurring favorite
Every Thursday, the Zilkha Center interns gather together in the Environmental Center’s kitchen to share a lunch. The interns rotate cooking duties, and every meal is crafted with sustainable ingredients sourced from our community garden and the College’s CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share of crops from Caretaker Farm. Working in pairs, the interns have whipped up egg scrambles, crepes, salads featuring homegrown strawberries, and more. Each week, invited guests from on and off campus are invited to join in the meal.
Over the last few weeks, guests have included Jennifer Munoz, founder of the Growing Healthy Garden Program in North Adams, Dukes Love, Provost of the College, and several student researchers and their professors. The conversation around the table is always insightful, warm, and friendly, but the true star of the weekly lunch is the food itself. Artist-in-residence David Taverez muses: “I like that they’re locally sourced– knowing where your food comes from is really important, but I also think actually going to the farm and interacting with the people who helped make your food is really wonderful.” The assigned chefs for the week always stop by local farms to obtain ingredients, and over the course of the summer, a rapport is developed between the interns and the farmers. Access to sustainable food, and having a stake in its creation, is one of the great privileges of living in the Berkshires, and the weekly lunch acts as both a celebration and meditation on that good fortune.
Serving out food
Of course, access to sustainable food via Community Supported Agriculture and local farms is not universal. Shares in farms like Caretaker have to be purchased, and not every family has that kind of capital. Access means bringing sustainable food to all communities, and that’s why organizations like the Growing Healthy Gardens program in North Adams are so important: Jennifer Munoz manages multiple community gardens in the Adams/North Adams area, where anyone who’s interested can learn about organic farming and build community. At least weeks lunch, Jessica reflected on seeing one of the kids who grew up with the program over the years. “I saw him at a gas station”, she began, as she passed the jar of habanero jelly she’d brought for the meal. “He’s entering the Navy next year, and when he recognized me, he was so happy. ‘Are you still doing that program? Please tell me you are, I loved it!’” Her proud smile was more than enough proof that the love was reciprocated.
The conversations surrounding sustainable food have mostly been centered around Williams’ campus, but Williams’ relationship with food is also tied to the communities that surround us. Local farms like Caretaker, as well as organizations like the Growing Healthy Gardens Program, blur the line between food and community and reveal how the two are intrinsic to one another. The Zilkha Center’s weekly lunches are celebrations of the work, care, and community that creates food, and promoting access to sustainable eats is an ideal, manageable step forward within our own community. If given the opportunity, visit local farms like Caretaker, or contribute to community gardens, both on and off campus. If you’re doing the former, make sure to look for their lavender; David highly recommends it!
For more on the Growing Healthy Gardens program, as well as other food access initiatives in the Berkshires, check out the Berkshire Food Web website!
For more on Caretaker Farm, check out their site as well!
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