By Nick Brown
Austin Community College’s 17-acre Sustainable Student Farm, located at ACC’s Elgin campus, is home to a herd of sheep, an orchard, a greenhouse, and a small plot dedicated to vegetable production.
It is also where you can often find Savannah Rugg, Department Chair of the Agricultural Sciences Department, who leads a small team that runs the farm.
Although trending in a positive direction, the farm has certainly faced challenges from this year’s weather.
First was the winter storm. While the orchard remained intact, heavy snow and freezing temperatures brought by the storm resulted in a significant loss of plants in the farm’s greenhouse that were used for propagation.
“It did push the season back,” Rugg said, referring to the plot of vegetables on the farm. The late start after shifting planting from February to April means now-maturing plants are faced with current, intense temperatures, and thus less flower production.
“If we had more hands it probably would have been a relatively productive season because we have gotten a lot of rain,” Rugg said. “We haven’t had to irrigate too much like a couple summers ago when we were hardly getting any.”
The recent rain, however, has also had an affect on the farm. “With all the rain we are getting and the high heat days, the weeds are probably the biggest challenge for us right now.”