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MSU Tollgate Farm September 2017


2017 MSU Tollgate Farm Pumpkinfest
is Just Around the Corner!

"Pumpkinfest was amazing!! Great activities, staff, prices, wonderful property!!" Jen P. Weckstein
A child's eyes twinkled as she shot an arrow at a target, handled a furry tarantula, and performed a cow eye dissection, all on a 2016 fall weekend at Tollgate Farm and Education Center in Novi, Michigan. Not quite 76 trombones of the Farmington Community Band played in harmony, while children climbed antique tractors like metal mountains, and folks visited with horses, goats, and sheep.
Pumpkinfest draws the community together for a festive fall event to celebrate the harvest and to raise funds for educational programming at the Farm.
Tollgate's 2017 Pumpkinfest encompasses multiple educational exhibits and collaboration with community members far and wide. This includes our lead sponsor, Novi neighbor Vibe Credit Union.   
With Vibe's involvement and the help of our volunteer community, Tollgate is able to reach children who otherwise would not be able to come to the farm. Pumpkinfest is the annual fundraiser that allows these students to participate in camps and field trips, making important connections between the farm, the natural world, and their daily lives.
At this year's event, the Ann Arbor Hands-on Museum provides an experiential learning station, and the MSU Bug House brings exciting entomology exhibits. Vintage baseball, face painting, bounce house and archery, target practice booths, and pumpkin decorating captivate young and old .  4-H clubs show off their projects, and MSU Extension exhibits their programs. Novi Public Library hosts a scavenger hunt, and Wixom Public Library provides Harvest Story Time. Living history reenactors interpret French colonists and Native Americans cooking harvest foods near the pumpkin patch.
Pumpkinfest has become a favorite h arvest time destination for metro-Detroiters, connecting the community with the beautiful preserved open space of MSU Tollgate Farm and our life-changing educational mission.  
Please join us for Pumpkinfest 2017!

Eli working in the MSU Tollgate Pumpkin Patch
There's Still Time to Volunteer...

MSU Tollgate Pumpkinfest is the effort of a strong team of Tollgate staff and volunteers. If you're interested in joining the team who help make Pumpkinfest come to life, please visit:

Pumpkinfest Volunteer Opportunities
Historic 1860's Baseball
Coming to MSU Tollgate

As a part to of this year's Pumpkinfest, visitors will have the opportunity to watch baseball the way it was originally played.

The Black Swamp Frogs from Sylvania, OH will be traveling north to take on the Eclipse Baseball Club of Northville, MI.

Historic baseball is played with the rules and uniforms accurate to the 1860's. This includes wooden bats, no gloves, and catching the ball in the air or on one bounce for an out. The match will begin at 1:00 pm on Saturday, October 7th in the back hayfield.

Bring your own lawn chairs or picnic blanket to sit and watch the game. Viewing of the game is free for all visitors to Pumpkinfest. Along with the match, there will be wagon rides, pumpkin picking, cider, donuts, and much more. Parking for Pumpkinfest is $5.

MSU Tollgate Farm Pumpkinfest 2017
Learn The Secret World of Plants!

The new season of Evenings in the Garden classes begins next week with an exploration of the invisible! Join Amanda Meier as she shares with us fascinating connections between our garden plants and the microbes and insects around them. Through lecture, video, amazing photos, and hands-on activities, we'll learn how plants defend themselves against enemies, and how plants communicate with each other.

Join us Thursday, September 28 - 6:30 - 8:30 pm, for a unique opportunity to see the unseen!

Advance registration required. Class is $20.

Get more information about this class and other upcoming Evenings in the Garden classes:

Belarus Delegation Visits MSU Tollgate Farm & Education Center on September 14

A group of ten women from the country of Belarus reached out to MSU Extension and Michigan 4-H because of our entrepreneurship-based programs for youth. This delegation is interested in creating entrepreneurship schools, incorporating business education into their school setting, and providing out-of-school entrepreneurial experiences.  They represent universities, schools, and other non-profit and youth organizations.  

With interpreters, MSU Extension staff Kathy Jamieson, Laurie Rivetto, and Dave Radloff presented the MSU Extension model, along with the work of Michigan 4-H in youth entrepreneurship programming.  

The delegation enjoyed their tour of the farm given by Mike Mathis, Interim Education Director of MSU Tollgate, especially the animal barn and goats!  Aaron Hutka, Alana Hutka, and Susannah Khanuk, members of the Tollgate Farm 4-H Club, along with their club leader, Mary Hutka, capped off the visit with a PowerPoint presentation.  The youth shared samples of their products, and the group purchased lots of goat milk soap!
Horse Camp

MSU Tollgate completed its second successful year of Horse Camp.  Thanks to the leadership of Deb Morgan and Nicole Simmons, Tollgate hosted two weeks of horse camp during 2017.  Twenty-four campers attended each session.  Campers got an intense, interactive experience riding, grooming, feeding, and tending several camp horses.  There was lots of hands-on instruction using Tollgate's recently constructed riding ring.  Lots of fun was had by all.  Even the horses enjoyed the extra attention!
Fall Season
of Farm Sprouts Begins

The fall season of our preschool program kicked off with a beautiful day! We enjoyed exploring the Children's Garden, going on a duck hunt, and tasting broccoli and cauliflower provided to us by our Sustainable Agriculture Program. Families also joined us for a wagon ride around the farm to learn about our farm and to observe how it appears early in the fall season. Forty-five children ages 3-5 years old will participate in the program this fall.

If you are interested in following our adventures, check in on our weekly blog:

Our next season of Farm Sprouts will take place in the winter. Stay tuned for details on how to register for this all-new Maple Sugaring season!
New Hay Baler and Children's Garden Story Hour

We've had a lot of fun enjoying stories, meeting our farm animals, digging into some soil, and finding out what it means to be a farmer this summer in our Children's Garden Story Hour, held in partnership with Novi Public Library. During our "Exploring the Garden"-themed story hour, our young visitors had the opportunity to investigate our tractor and experience what it feels like to sit up in the farmer's seat. We learned about the purpose and operation of a hay baler and the difference between straw and hay. Our hay baler was purchased this past spring thanks to the support of donors from our Tollgate volunteer organization. We wish to extend our gratitude to the donors, as we not only now have fresh hay harvested from our fields to feed our animals, but we can also utilize the hay baler as a part of our educational programming.

MSU Tollgate Farm - Story Hour
Summer Camp Program Wraps Up Its Seventh Summer at
MSU Tollgate Farm

MSU Tollgate is a wonderful and exciting place for the children who spent their summer busily exploring the Farm. Many of our campers think of Tollgate as their second home. They milk Jenna the goat, plant seeds, discover macroinvertebrates in the pond, and trek through the maple forest. Tollgate offers campers an immersion in play and inquiry-based learning for eight weeks of their summer break.

Campers may sign up for one specialized week, or attend a variety of the themed weeks. This year our topics focused on Green Science, Animals, Survival Skills, Soil and Water, Horses, Birds, and Food. See some of the fun we had by visiting the Summer Camp blog:

MSU Tollgate Summer Camp blog

If you have questions about future MSU Tollgate Farm Camps, or you would like to sponsor a child's opportunity to come to camp, please speak with Ellen Koehler or Nicole Blanzy.

Title Source Comes to MSU Tollgate
Tollgate relies heavily on volunteers to provide all of the unique opportunities here.  Without the support from many members of the community, Tollgate would be a much different place.   
Recently, a corporate group from Title Source, one of the Dan Gilbert companies, came to Tollgate to help maintain the farm.  The group was tasked with applying a fresh coat of paint to the animal barn.  The barn's original brown paint coloring was beginning to make an appearance through a past coat of white paint.  The Title Source volunteers made short work of the project, applying two coats of fresh, white paint.  They finished so quickly, the group cast about for other items to renew.  In two shakes, the group had two coats of paint on several benches and the rabbit pen.  The volunteer day came to an end just as the group was eying the goats.   
Thanks Title Source!

Volunteering at Tollgate
The Tollgate Farm 4-H Kids at the Michigan State Fair!

The kids from the 4-H Club filled the Urban Farming table with home grown veggies including tomatoes, peppers, hot peppers, squash, and beans.

Club members also submitted projects in photography, art,
ceramics, crochet, dehydrated fruit & herbs, baking, potted herbs,and more. It is awesome to see these kids using skills learned in 4-H to compete at the Michigan State Fair.

This year, five members of Tollgate Farm 4-H Club took 7 goats to the fair. Congratulations to members Alana Hutka (1st place intermediate showmanship), Aaron Hutka
(5th place intermediate Showmanship) and Lilly Keskinen (1st place Goat Milking, 5th Place Jr Showmanship). All the showmen looked great and presented their animals well. We are already planning for next year's County and State Fairs!

There is one additional high note from the State Fair. For 2017, 5 members of Tollgate Farm 4-H Club were honored to receive a total of $5,250 in Urban Farming Scholarships. These kids worked hard in the garden and in the barn, participated in the County and State Fairs, and supported their Club and Community. Congratulations to: Alana Hutka, Aaron Hutka, Heather Gregory, Lilly Keskinen, Miriam Klenke, Emmanuel Salas, and Susanna Khanuk. These kids are also headed to a ceremony at the State Capitol celebrating their achievements.

The State Fair comes at the end of the 2016 - 2017 4-H Year. Tollgate Farm 4-H is now registering members for the 2017 - 2018 4-H Year. We welcome youth members ages 5 - 19, along with adult volunteers.

For more information contact:

The September 4-H Newsletter
is here!

Oakland County 4-H Connections is a monthly newsletter for 4-H members, families, and the general community with news and information about 4-H Youth Development activities in Oakland County.

September Oakland County 4-H Connections
Tollgate Volunteer Opportunities

There are many fun and friendly opportunities to contribute to Tollgate! Join us in the gardens; help with community events, special projects, maple sugaring, or educational programming.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

If you are interested, send us your name, email address, telephone number, and area(s) of interest. As opportunities arise, you'll be contacted. Thank you!
Email: or visit:

Tollgate Volunteer Page
Rent the Tollgate Conference Center

The MSU Tollgate Conference Center, historic barn, and Americana boardroom are available for your next business meeting, bridal or baby shower, or private luncheon. Our event catering staff are available to meet all of your needs. To learn more about hosting your event at Tollgate, please visit:

MSU Tollgate Farm and Education Center offers programs throughout the year designed to allow adults and children to experience learning hands-on, explore the joys of gardening and the natural world, appreciate and promote locally grown food, and build community. 
MSU Tollgate Farm and Education Center
28115 Meadowbrook Rd.
Novi, MI 48377
MSU is an affirmative-action, equal-opportunity employer. Michigan State University Programs and materials are open to all, without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, height, weight, disability,political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital, family or veteran status.