April showers bring May flowers!

MSU Tollgate Farm April 2017

Farm Manager Roy Prentice with Deerfield Students
Maple Festival with Deerfield Elementary

In March, Deerfield Elementary visited Tollgate Farm for an all-school festival celebrating the science and history of maple sugaring. As members of a strong community school, younger and older Deerfield students in grades K-4 were paired together to board wagons and head out to investigate the sugar bush. Young explorers tried their hand at drilling a tree, and observed firsthand how maples are tapped to make the delicious sweet treat. A stop at the sugar shack revealed the heart of the maple sugaring operation at Tollgate. Here, dedicated volunteers shared how they apply engineering and science concepts to evaporate the clear watery sap into rich, sweet maple syrup. Students learned about the history of sugaring by visiting a colonial camp, and by exploring the variety of tools used throughout Michigan's history. Making their way to the historic 19th century barn, students were greeted by friendly Tollgate and Deerfield volunteers who shared a dozen hands-on maple activities including getting to know the maple tree, bark, and branch up close and personal, going on a maple scavenger hunt, making their very own replica of a maple sap gathering 'mokuk,' and flying handmade maple seed helicopters. At a cozy warming station, Sugar Bush Story Time took place in the conference center where a local children's librarian shared the best of children's literature about maple sugaring.

Deerfield's Maple Festival was a taste of maple magic and a day of fun and learning to remember!

There's Still Time...

Interested in starting your own small farm or homestead but have limited hours to learn what you need to get started? The Part-Time Apprenticeship was designed with you in mind! We've consolidated a season's worth of farming experience into 13 Saturday mornings spread across the growing season, so you can work full time and still follow your dreams. The goal of the part-time apprenticeship is to equip participants with the necessary foundation to grow food for themselves, their family, and for profit.

New class members may join up through  Saturday, April 29. Sustainable Agriculture Instructor Will Jaquinde says that you still have a chance to participate - register today!
Tollgate CSA Part-time Apprenticeship
Tollgate Farm
Teen Leadership Program 2017

Are you 15 - 19 years old and looking for an awesome way to spend part of your summer?

Join us for Tollgate Farm's Teen Leadership Stewards Program! Gain practical experience and serve your community, while exploring natural resources and agriculture education. Join us to make a positive difference in the lives of our campers while making new friends on the farm.

The deadline for Stewards (15-19-year-olds) to apply is May 4. .

For more information, go to MSU Tollgate Farm website:
MSU Tollgate Farm

or click here to register:
Teen Stewards Volunteer Program
New Evenings in the Garden class this Thursday

A new 2017 Spring Series of Evenings in the Garden classes has begun! This Thursday, April 27 from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Jan Bills will be teaching us How to Garden with Comfort, Ease, and Simplicity. Jan is the owner of Two Women and a Hoe, a Detroit-area landscape design company, and author of Late Bloomer. She will be selling (and signing) copies of her book, too. Join us to find out ways to put more enjoyment, and less labor, into our gardening time.

Advance Registration is required. For more information, please visit
Evenings in the Garden
Orientation for New Tollgate Garden Volunteers
Saturday, April 29
9 am - 10 am +

Have you ever thought about volunteering at Tollgate? The beautiful gardens at Tollgate are all maintained by volunteers. Find out how you can join this friendly group of people at a New Volunteer Orientation in the Conference Center. There will be a PowerPoint introduction to the site and a tour from 9 - 10 am. Attendees will be invited to join in the regular volunteer workday afterwards, and join us for a Tollgate Maple Syrup pancake lunch.

Find out more about becoming a Tollgate volunteer at our
Tollgate Volunteer Page
Tollgate Farmers Market Starts
May 31

Mark your calendar now: The Tollgate Farmers Market will happen in our new Pavilion every Wednesday
from 4:30 - 6:30 pm, starting May 31st! You'll find seasonal produce grown on site by our sustainable agriculture apprentices, as well as by the Tollgate 4-H club! Honey, baked goods, and more can be found on your way home from work. Bring the kids after school!

For more information, or if you or someone you know is interested in becoming a vendor, please visit:
Tollgate Farmer's Market
Tollgate Farmers Market
Spring Plant Sale at Tollgate!
June 3
9am - 2pm

Tollgate Farm will be hosting our annual Spring Plant Sale on Saturday,
June 3.  The Sale will feature a great variety of large, healthy perennials, just right for your garden.  Experienced Master Gardeners will be on hand to help you select the perfect plant(s) for your garden, whether you're trying to discourage deer, encourage pollinators, choose natives, or simply increase your overall gardening enjoyment. Plant sale revenues go exclusively towards caring for the Tollgate Gardens. 

Come to the plant sale early for a great selection of wonderful plants! 

You can view a flyer of the plant sale online at
Tollgate Spring Plant Sale flyer (pdf)
Summer Farm Camp at Tollgate

MSU Tollgate Summer Farm Camp is a unique opportunity to draw children to farm-based learning through hands-on activities - including caring for and interacting with farm animals, making snacks from food grown on the farm, and learning about gardening and nature through outdoor adventures.

Weekly camps are offered from June 26 through August 25 with various themes, including Green Science Adventure, Survival, Animal, Mud, Horse, Winged Wonders, and Food.

For more information and to register, please visit
MSU Tollgate Summer Farm Camp
Fall Farm Sprouts

Our Farm Sprouts Preschool Program will return this fall! The program will focus on harvest-themed investigations related to topics such as animal science, food production, and nature, in addition to developing a variety of skills from languages to mathematics. How is our food grown and harvested? How do animals prepare for winter? Preschoolers will explore these questions and more as a part of our fall farm community.

Registration is now open!
Tollgate Farm 4-H Club

With spring comes a lot of new activities for the members of the Club. New livestock means milking and more mouths to feed. Warmer weather means that it is time to plant the garden. Soon we will be making more Goat Milk Soap! These activities provide members the opportunity to learn about their subject, but also how to plan, work as a team, be responsible, solve problems, and more. As always, Tollgate Farm 4-H Club is open to new youth members eager to explore agriculture, nutrition, business, and crafts.

We also welcome adult volunteers interested in guiding kids through their projects.

For more information send an email to tollgatefarm4H@gmail.com

Farm Stands Starting Soon:
Wixom Founders Day Festival
Sunday May 21st
1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Gibson House
49805 Pontiac Trail

The Growing Season is Starting --
Come Join the Fun!
CSA Farm News

There are just a few slots still open to register for the 2017 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) season!

CSA members receive a share of the farm's bounty each week during the growing season, spanning twenty weeks. This is a great way to eat local, organically-grown produce affordably while supporting your local farm. You can even choose a half share, which is well suited to couples or small families.

To find out more and register, please visit:
Community Supported Agriculture 2017
"The Best Spring Break Ever!"

Despite a cold and rainy week, Tollgate Farm Spring Break Camp was a wild success. Puddle hopping was prime and curiosity abounded. Each of the five days of camp focused on a different aspect of the farm: water, soil, birds, insects, mammals. Campers were responsible for the morning animal chores. They made their morning and afternoon snack, healthy and delicious, in Garden Kitchen. Some of our favorite recipes were deviled eggs and strawberry rhubarb crisp.
One of the highlights of Spring Break Camp was spending time with our baby animals. Wednesday marked day 21 for the clutch in our incubator. Campers gathered throughout the day to check on the hatching progress and welcome new chicks to Tollgate Farm. Spring Break Camp 2017 was a week of farm, fun, and friends!

Check out the blog for the full story at
Experience Tollgate blog
New Cows on the Farm

There are now three new Angus cross cows joining the Tollgate herd.  These cows will be part of the livestock education program and will serve as an introduction to youth and other groups of one of the popular cattle breeds used for meat in Michigan. Each year, we buy several calves for use as part of site programming. The plan is to have calves on the farm each year from the new cows. It is also hoped that future sale of farm-raised beef will help offset some of the operating costs for the livestock education program.
Well, Well, Well...

Most of the irrigation around the farm is provided by a well. The last couple of years, the Tollgate well has been delivering a reduced amount of water. Inspection of the piping coming up from the well pump revealed a hole that led to a reduction in efficiency. Thanks to a grant from the Americana Foundation, we have been able to not only replace the damaged well pipe, but to also replace the aging well pump with a much more efficient and higher-capacity unit.

A special thanks to Brooke Larm, Early Childhood Education Coordinator, and Deb Morgan, Oakland County 4-H Coordinator, for their patience during this process. The well room is located adjacent to their office. They have been tolerating much coming and going of well personnel while the well has been refitted.
Teaching Science Outdoors
Comes to Tollgate

Are you an elementary school teacher interested in incorporating best practices for teaching science outdoors? The W.K. Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) is pleased to announce that teaching Science Outdoors (TSO) program will be offered at Tollgate the week of July 24th, 2017. This program brings elementary teachers to the farm for an unforgettable workshop that allows them to practice science in a variety of outdoor habitats. Next Generation Science Standards and technology are incorporated throughout the experience. Teachers develop skills to adapt existing science curriculum for the outdoor classroom, an active research question on their own pedagogy and build a network of resources.

Registration is coming soon. To be added to our contact list or for more information, contact koehle43@anr.msu.edu
The April 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.

April Oakland County 4-H Connections (pdf)
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:  tollgateprograms@anr.msu.edu
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 Conference Center

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.