By Celeste Berg, Williams College
“I used to not care, but now every living, breathing moment centers around the relationship we’ve built with Williams,” says Bill Stinson of nearby Peace Valley Farm. Although I’ve volunteered at Peace Valley a couple of fall mornings with my cross country team, motivation struck to pay the place an educational visit, and thus I found myself winding along muddy Treadwell Hollow Road to the picturesque yet desolate three acre farm. Sitting at the wood table in his rustic kitchen and clutching a ceramic mug of coffee, Bill Stinson described the modest beginning of his partnership with Williams. Transactions began in the 1980’s, but at this point in time Williams was merely a “dumping ground” for Stinson: he would offer the college leftover produce, and when proposition corresponded with institutional need, the exchange was beneficial for both parties. Today, a much more developed symbiotic relationship exists not only via sale and purchase, but also between Stinson and members of the college. In 1990, Peace Valley hosted its first intern from Williams, and since then, the farm has seen over 60 student interns during the summer months. Involvement has been multifaceted: students have stayed for various lengths of time, some residing with Stinson and his wife while they work the growing season, while others have served as liaisons between Williams College Dining Services and the cultivator, a rendition of the reputed “farm to table” experience. Indeed, Stinson credits these students, current director of Dining Services Bob Volpi, and his own personal efforts with fostering the relationship between his small farm and the high-powered organization of which we are a part.