Augie Acres Brings Food and Discussion to the Table

Thea Gonzales

Now on its eighth year as a student and faculty run project on sustainability, Augie Acres aims to continue growing as a garden and being a conversation starter in discussions about the environment and sustainable food.
Augie Acres is a garden and orchard that supplies produce cultivated by student group, ALAS. This project started eight years ago as a brainchild of students in a learning environment about the community.
According to advisor Dr. Chris Strunk, “The garden was the site of a former apartment building and the college agreed to purchase the lot from the city to use as a student-run garden. The initial goal of the garden was to give the produce to Dining Services, but we found that most of the produce was harvested in the summer when few students are on campus. Students began selling our produce at local farmers markets a few years ago and we now have a stand at the Freight House Farmers’ Market in the summer.”
In the fall term, Augie Acres has a produce stand near Olin in the Quad; every Monday from 2-4 p.m., students and faculty alike can buy produce that has been grown from seed to stand by members of ALAS. Students are responsible for every part of managing the garden, such as weeding, mowing, mulching, harvesting, planting new seeds, marketing, selling the produce at the Augie Acres market stands, and planning for future seasons.
President of ALAS, Jamie Fee, hopes that Augie Acres will provide students with an opportunity to look outside of themselves.
“It is a good way for students to make connections to others, and learn to care about something bigger than themselves. This club’s mission is to create an environment that is comfortable for students to share their ideas, no matter how far fetched they seem, and hopefully see their ideas come to life in the garden. This club is dedicated to creating a sustainable environment that hopefully encourages others to join in and be more conscious about their decisions and how they impact greater communities and the world,” Fee said.
Volunteers are always needed to help out with garden work, and students are welcome to come during the scheduled work days: Sunday afternoon and Thursday at 10:30 a.m. Several geography, environmental studies, biology, and even English and business classes have made a significant impact on the garden through projects like installing a beehive and pollinator garden. Internship positions are available in the fall, spring, and summer.
During week eight, Augie Acres/ALAS plan on taking part in discussions about the food industry, agriculture, and many other environmental issues in the Salon.
Fee thinks that Augie Acres is a vital part of the community and wants the garden to be a symbol for other environmental matters that hopefully will spark conversation about how to live more sustainably.
“We want to make our garden and perhaps our knowledge of gardening, the greater issues of the food industry, agriculture and other environmental issues more accessible to students. We invite those conversations, and I think in the future we would love to have open discussions about these issues that pertain to Augie Acres, the Augustana community, but also to the world.”