See what's happening at Tollgate this month!

MSU Tollgate Farm February 2017

The Art of Scientific Thinking:
Why science is important for early childhood development

Ideas for developing the mind of a young scientist

by Brooke Larm
and Alan Jaros

We all utilize scientific thinking as we go about our daily lives, such as when we peer out the window to assist us in deciding what to wear, when we experiment with mixing ingredients to bake a perfectly moist cake or when we attempt to figure out why the tomato plants aren't thriving this season. In the book, "The Art of Scientific Investigation," W.I.B. Beveridge wrote, "The most important instrument in research must always be the mind of man." The use of scientific thinking helps us make sense of the world.

Read more: The Art of Scientific Thinking
Journey Back Through Time
at the MSU Tollgate Farm
Maple Tapping and Pancake Feast

Spaces are filling quickly for MSU Tollgate Farm's Maple Tapping and Pancake Feast. This 2-hour, hands-on maple sugaring program explores the history and science of this natural sweet treat. Wagon rides, visits to the sugar shack, maple tree tapping, and a trip through time to earlier sugaring eras. Enjoy a delicious pancake meal with real maple syrup!

For more information and to register:
Evenings in the Garden
Winter 2017

This winter series of gardening classes has been popular! Our first two classes have sold out, and we have one more class scheduled, with limited seating. Please join us for Dr. Norm Lownds visual journey through the Michigan 4-H Children's Gardens. The cost of the class is $20 and supports more adult education programming at MSU Tollgate.
Be on the lookout for our spring series of classes, too!

March 30 - 6:30 - 8:30 pm - Dr. Norm Lownds - Gardening with Children: Finding Magic in Your Garden

For more information and to register:

Register for Evenings in the Garden 

Spring is Just Around the Corner...

...And so is Spring Break Farm Camp!
April 3rd - 7th, 2017

Every day at MSU Tollgate Spring Break Farm Camp is an exciting adventure as we move through our daily themes:

We care for baby goats, hatch chicks, help with morning animal chores, take afternoon hikes in the woods, harvest early produce for nutritious Garden Kitchen snacks, engage in a creative week-long STEM project, and experience lots of real science and hands-on fun!

A typical camp day will include making yummy and nutritious snacks, caring for our farm animals, sowing seeds in the garden, and investigating the natural world of field, forest, and pond.

"75% of Nobel Prize winners in the sciences say their interest in science was sparked by an experience outside of school. Learning does not stop when the bell rings. Together, let's spark the natural curiosity in all students and help develop their critical thinking skills. In that way, they will see for themselves that math and science can be both fun and incredibly valuable in all aspects of life."
---From Science Anywhere Innovation Challenge

Register HERE for Spring Break Farm Camp
Spring Farm Sprouts Preschool Program

Registration is currently open for the spring season of Farm Sprouts!

We'll explore our greenhouse, gardens, pond, forest, barns, fields, and silo. How do bees and worms help a garden grow? We'll collaborate to investigate what plants need to grow. We will contribute to the farm community by doing some of our own planting and tending in the gardens, in addition to hiking among some of the tallest plants on the farm... our sugar maple trees!

We maintain a low teacher-to-child ratio which supports the development of the whole child, and we are experienced in working with English Language Learners (ELLs).

The morning session is FULL, and just a few spaces remain in the afternoon session, so click here to register if interested:
Tollgate Farm
Stewards Teen Leadership Program 2017

Are you 12 - 19 years old and looking for an awesome way to spend part of your summer?

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

Spaces for Stewards-in-Training (12-14-year-olds) are limited, so register early.
The deadline for Stewards (15-19-year-olds) to apply is April 27.


For more information, go to MSU Tollgate Farm website
or click here to register:
New Tollgate Farmers Market this Spring

Come join us for the Tollgate Farmers Market 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, or bring the kids after school.

For more information, or if you or someone you know is interested in becoming a vendor, please visit:
Summer Camp - Way More Than Just Fun

Summer camp evokes images of fun and fond memories, but does it make a difference in the lives of kids? Many scholars would give a resounding "Yes!" This is especially true if the camp teaches children about the outdoors.

Several research studies have noted the value of ecology-based residential camp programs in development of youth environmental stewardship. According to Michigan State University Extension, children today know little about their own local ecosystems. They are disconnected from the world outside their doors, relying mainly on superficial connects through electronic media.

According to experts like Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, outdoor learning is essential for developing youth environmental stewardship.

Read MORE: MSUE summer camp article

Calling All Families with Preschoolers:
Save the Date!

Our fall season of Farm Sprouts will run for 8 weeks, beginning the second full week in September.

We are expanding! Tuesday or Wednesday class sessions will now be available!

The fall season is a busy and exciting time at MSU Tollgate Farm. Join in on the harvest! We'll press apple cider, harvest our own fruits and vegetables for snack, explore the pumpkin patch, and much more. STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) activities are integrated into the program to support inquiry-based investigations, as well as Spanish as a Foreign Language. Registration will open on April 3rd.

Please visit our website for more information:
Animal Babies!

Nicole Simmons, our Animal Care Coordinator, has informed us that babies will be born soon here at Tollgate! Here is a photo of our very pregnant goat, Jenna, who is expecting on or around March 4. Including Jenna, we have a total of three pregnant does (goats), and four pregnant ewes (sheep) all expected to pop in the month of March. We will also have chicks hatched in March for our Spring Break camp. Yay babies!
CSA Farm News

Registration is still open for the 2017 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) season!

CSA members receive a share of the farm's bounty during the growing season, spanning twenty weeks. This is a great way to eat local, organically-grown produce affordably while supporting your local farm. New this year, we are offering a half share, which is well suited to couples or small families.

To find out more and register, please visit:
Tollgate Farm 4-H Club's Annual Seed Distribution Event Was a Success

Tollgate Farm 4-H Club opened our seed bins to school and community gardens in the metro Detroit area on February 4 & 5.

Each garden filled out a survey so we can get a measure of the results.
We are 4-H - we keep records!

  • 42 Gardens outside of Tollgate participated
    (up from 14 last year)
  • Over 1500 packets of seeds were distributed
  • Garden recipients included small community plots, girl scout troops, and gardens at large school districts
An awesome result for a combination of kid power and organization!
Thank You to those who helped our club make this happen.

Thank You Seed Donors: Botanical Interests, High Mowing, Renee's Garden, Sow True, Southern Exposure, Peaceful Valley Farm Supply, Charles Hart, Bountiful Gardens, & Baker Creek.

Thank You to MSU Tollgate Farm and Education Center for helping with a place to store seeds and the room for the distribution event.

Thank You to Michigan State University Extension - Oakland County for helping to spread word of this event.

We do this again in early March. Still waiting to hear from a few more potential seed donors so hopefully we can fulfill more of the need.

The Year is just Starting. Come Join the Fun!
This month's 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.

February Oakland County 4-H Connections newsletter
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:

Rent the 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.