Garden launched with Great Ideas funds

As part of the College Council (CC) Great Ideas Campaign, Williams College will now have an organic garden run by the newly established Williams Sustainable Growers (WSG) and funded by the Zilkha Center and CC.

The garden is located on the lawn west of Parsons House, with a second site at the College’s former garden next to Kellogg House. The opening ceremony for the garden will take place April 17. Planting will follow the opening ceremony and the first produce is expected by the last week of the semester.

The idea for the garden was proposed to CC’s Great Ideas Campaign by Jarret Nelson ’10 and McCullough Inglis ’13. After their initiative was approved by CC, Nelson and Inglis were joined by four other students with whom they founded WSG.

Nelson said that discussion about the garden started last October and Lori Van-Handel, then director of the Zilkha Center Sustainable Food and Agriculture program, helped Nelson and Inglis with the initial planning.

While the garden will welcome all students, faculty and staff to “become members of the WSG and [be] involved in the planning, implementation and maintenance of the garden,” according to Nelson,  administrative decisions regarding the garden will be carried out by the WSG through a six-member student executive committee advised by the Zilkha Center. This spring, Lauren MacDonald ’12, Sara Finkle ’13, Sonja Thalheimer ’13 and Andrea Lindsay ’13 will serve on the committee.

The proposal for the organic garden stated that beyond supporting the College’s sustainability goals, the garden can “[create] a starting point for a campus-wide conversation about sustainability and agriculture.” It is expected to provide interested students with a chance to learn how to grow vegetables organically while also supplying students with greater access to fresh produce.

Additionally, produce from the garden can be used to “support social action in the local community through donations of produce to food pantries,”according to Nelson.

Nelson said he sees the garden as “the first step on the path to exponentially [increasing] the amount of local, sustainably grown food on the Williams campus.”

He also sees potential in many other sites on campus which can be used for similar purposes. “With enough interest, it is even possible to imagine a small, off-campus, student-run farm, complete with chickens, dairy goats and beehives,” he said. “And any produce grown by students can be combined with greater purchasing by Dining Services of locally grown organic food so at least one dining hall can be serving an exclusively sustainably produced menu.”

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