New apple orchard part of sustainability project for Augustana University students, professors

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Augustana University has a new apple orchard that will serve as an outdoor classroom.

One of Laura Arce’s first memories is her grandma teaching her how to talk to plants to make them grow better.

“Each time that I come, I talk to every single plant and I put music to them, I don’t know just to be happy and also because I have fun,” said Augustana University Junior Laura Arce.

Augusatna professor Cory Conover got Arce interested in the orchard. He plans to use a field trip to the trees in his history class.

“This is an experiment in history. People have been raising apples from the medieval age and even before hand in Europe. The settlers that came across this area also brought apples with them. Orchards like this would have sustained the settler community,” said Augustana University History department chairman Cory Conover.

But the orchard is only the first phase of a larger sustainability project. Step two is bringing in a couple of bee hives to pollinate the trees.

“This is a living laboratory that you’re seeing right here. Students who are engaging in this are learning about bee keeping, about apples, about prairie pollinator gardens, organic vegetable gardens and so on, said Augustana University Director of Environmental studies David O’Hara.

So what do you say to make an apple tree grow better?

“Good morning beautiful, how are you today? When they blossom it will be like, oh look at those beautiful leaves,” said Arce.

“What I love about this especially, is with this training, they’re learning how to shape the future of our food as well,” said O’Hara.

A future that’s in good hands.

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