Check Out the Tollgate Camp Video!

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2019 MSU Tollgate Farm Pumpkinfest

A child’s eyes twinkled as she watched the pumpkin trebuchet launch high into the air and land hard on the ground below. Adults and children handled furry tarantulas, explored historic toys, performed a cow eye dissection, and visited with our farm animals, all on a perfect crisp fall weekend at Tollgate Farm and Education Center in Novi, Michigan. Sounds of Whoa, Nelly!, GroTown, and Gemini echoed across the farm as children ran through the straw maze and bowled with pumpkins. 

Pumpkinfest 2019 drew thousands from the tri-county area and beyond for a festive fall event to celebrate the harvest and raise funds to support educational programming at the farm. An event which began in 2014 with 300 attendees has grown to become a favorite fall destination for metro-Detroiters, connecting the community with the beautiful preserved open space at Tollgate Farm and the educational mission of the site. Tollgate’s 6th annual Pumpkinfest encompassed educational exhibits and collaboration with community members far and wide. This year’s Pumpkinfest was the perfect place to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the City of Novi. 

Vibe Credit Union joined the event as lead sponsor in 2015, and their involvement each year since has grown. The support of Vibe and fellow sponsor Barton Malow Foundation has been invaluable and has allowed Tollgate to reach children with financial assistance who otherwise could not come to the farm for our programs. Schools, individuals, and families in need are able to participate in camps and field trips and apprenticeships to make important connections between the farm, the natural world, and their daily lives. 

The MSU Bug House and The Ann Arbor Hands-on Museum provided experiential learning stations, as well as many MSU Extension educators. Face painting, bounce house, target practice, archery, and pumpkin decorating kept young ones smiling. The Farmington Hills Library and children’s authors provided several Harvest Story Time sessions. Our pumpkin patch was the pinnacle destination with a wagon ride, the pumpkin trebuchet with Randy White and the Native American and early French camp where costumed interpreters reenacted French colonists and Native Americans cooking harvest foods. 

Support of in-kind donations from the community helped us feed our over 200 volunteers who helped with every aspect of the big weekend. Pumpkinfest’s scope and outreach grows annually as the event provide fun and learning for the community and increased awareness of Tollgate and agriculture’s role in our daily lives.

Thank you to all who helped make this event possible and we look forward to our next Pumpkinfest in 2020!

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2019 Fall Farm Sprouts – Week #4 Wednesday PM

Each spring and fall we embark on our Forest Day adventure, a tradition that has been a part of our program since our very first season. Forest Day is loved by all with both returning Farm Sprouts and teachers looking forward to a day filled with hiking, discovery, a special snack, and most importantly, the opportunity to engage in free play in a forest learning environment. The feelings the forest provoke are varied and at times unexpected or intense: joy, wonder, curiosity, awe. As we live in an urban environment and in a technology age, opportunities for free play in the forest may be limited. Farm Sprouts often independently note the stark shift in light from the bright pastures to the dark woods as we enter, eliciting excitement or for a few, fear, overcome with the support and guidance of teachers. The forest spurs children to engage in new challenges, to assess and accept the risk inherent to learning and growing, to test the limits of what they can do with their bodies and minds. It’s inspiring and a marvel to observe.

Some of our colleagues out East created a great video, titled “The Best Day Ever: Forest Kindergartens in Vermont” on their efforts to create these opportunities to learn and grow in the forest as a part of their regular school week. Ms. Brooke studied with both David Sobel and Eliza Minucci through her time attending Antioch University New England. In recent news, Washington just became the first state to license nature-based preschools. We’re grateful we’ve been able to create a program like this for our community!

Not only did we spend a good chunk of our time in the forest, but we also took some time to play in our straw maze and welcome the newest additions to our farm: a mother rabbit and her six kits! Our special forest snack is always popcorn with our very own Tollgate maple syrup for dipping. Farm Sprouts were encouraged to lick their plates (but only in the forest!) We owe our thanks for this delicious treat for dipping our popcorn to our operations team, our maple sugaring volunteers, the sugar maple trees, and our winter Farm Sprouts! They helped tap trees, haul buckets of sap, and supported the volunteers with good cheer and great questions. While we munched our popcorn snack, we enjoyed the book, Because of an Acorn by Lola and Adam Schaefer. Farm Sprouts noted that some leaves were beginning to change color and we identified the differences between beech and sugar maple trees. Other discoveries included fungi, insects, acorns, some munched by animals, and the tubing for our maple sugaring operation that makes our forest special. We concluded our day with our goodbye routine, giving special thanks to the trees.

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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2019 Fall Farm Sprouts – Week #4 Wednesday AM

Each spring and fall we embark on our Forest Day adventure, a tradition that has been a part of our program since our very first season. Forest Day is loved by all with both returning Farm Sprouts and teachers looking forward to a day filled with hiking, discovery, a special snack, and most importantly, the opportunity to engage in free play in a forest learning environment. The feelings the forest provoke are varied and at times unexpected or intense: joy, wonder, curiosity, awe. As we live in an urban environment and in a technology age, opportunities for free play in the forest may be limited. Farm Sprouts often independently note the stark shift in light from the bright pastures to the dark woods as we enter, eliciting excitement or for a few, fear, overcome with the support and guidance of teachers. The forest spurs children to engage in new challenges, to assess and accept the risk inherent to learning and growing, to test the limits of what they can do with their bodies and minds. It’s inspiring and a marvel to observe.

Some of our colleagues out East created a great video, titled “The Best Day Ever: Forest Kindergartens in Vermont” on their efforts to create these opportunities to learn and grow in the forest as a part of their regular school week. Ms. Brooke studied with both David Sobel and Eliza Minucci through her time attending Antioch University New England. In recent news, Washington just became the first state to license nature-based preschools. We’re grateful we’ve been able to create a program like this for our community!

Not only did we spend a good chunk of our time in the forest, but we also took some time to play in our straw maze and welcome the newest additions to our farm: a mother rabbit and her six kits! Our special forest snack is always popcorn with our very own Tollgate maple syrup for dipping. Farm Sprouts were encouraged to lick their plates (but only in the forest!) We owe our thanks for this delicious treat for dipping our popcorn to our operations team, our maple sugaring volunteers, the sugar maple trees, and our winter Farm Sprouts! They helped tap trees, haul buckets of sap, and supported the volunteers with good cheer and great questions. While we munched our popcorn snack, we enjoyed the book, Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson. Farm Sprouts noted that some leaves were beginning to change color and we identified the differences between beech and sugar maple trees. Other discoveries included fungi, insects, acorns, some munched by animals, and the tubing for our maple sugaring operation that makes our forest special. We concluded our day with our goodbye routine, giving special thanks to the trees.

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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2019 Fall Farm Sprouts – Week #4 Tuesday PM

Each spring and fall we embark on our Forest Day adventure, a tradition that has been a part of our program since our very first season. Forest Day is loved by all with both returning Farm Sprouts and teachers looking forward to a day filled with hiking, discovery, a special snack, and most importantly, the opportunity to engage in free play in a forest learning environment. The feelings the forest provoke are varied and at times unexpected or intense: joy, wonder, curiosity, awe. As we live in an urban environment and in a technology age, opportunities for free play in the forest may be limited. Farm Sprouts often independently note the stark shift in light from the bright pastures to the dark woods as we enter, eliciting excitement or for a few, fear, overcome with the support and guidance of teachers. The forest spurs children to engage in new challenges, to assess and accept the risk inherent to learning and growing, to test the limits of what they can do with their bodies and minds. It’s inspiring and a marvel to observe.

Some of our colleagues out East created a great video, titled “The Best Day Ever: Forest Kindergartens in Vermont” on their efforts to create these opportunities to learn and grow in the forest as a part of their regular school week. Ms. Brooke studied with both David Sobel and Eliza Minucci through her time attending Antioch University New England. In recent news, Washington just became the first state to license nature-based preschools. We’re grateful we’ve been able to create a program like this for our community!

Not only did we spend a good chunk of our time in the forest, but we also took some time to play in our straw maze and welcome the newest additions to our farm: a mother rabbit and her six kits! Our special forest snack is always popcorn with our very own Tollgate maple syrup for dipping. Farm Sprouts were encouraged to lick their plates (but only in the forest!) We owe our thanks for this delicious treat for dipping our popcorn to our operations team, our maple sugaring volunteers, the sugar maple trees, and our winter Farm Sprouts! They helped tap trees, haul buckets of sap, and supported the volunteers with good cheer and great questions. While we munched our popcorn snack, we enjoyed the book, Because of an Acorn by Lola and Adam Schaefer. Farm Sprouts noted that some leaves were beginning to change color and we identified the differences between beech and sugar maple trees. Other discoveries included fungi, insects, acorns, some munched by animals, and the tubing for our maple sugaring operation that makes our forest special. We concluded our day with our goodbye routine, giving special thanks to the trees.

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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2019 Fall Farm Sprouts – Week #4 Tuesday AM

Each spring and fall we embark on our Forest Day adventure, a tradition that has been a part of our program since our very first season. Forest Day is loved by all with both returning Farm Sprouts and teachers looking forward to a day filled with hiking, discovery, a special snack, and most importantly, the opportunity to engage in free play in a forest learning environment. The feelings the forest provoke are varied and at times unexpected or intense: joy, wonder, curiosity, awe. As we live in an urban environment and in a technology age, opportunities for free play in the forest may be limited. Farm Sprouts often independently note the stark shift in light from the bright pastures to the dark woods as we enter, eliciting excitement or for a few, fear, overcome with the support and guidance of teachers. The forest spurs children to engage in new challenges, to assess and accept the risk inherent to learning and growing, to test the limits of what they can do with their bodies and minds. It’s inspiring and a marvel to observe.

Some of our colleagues out East created a great video, titled “The Best Day Ever: Forest Kindergartens in Vermont” on their efforts to create these opportunities to learn and grow in the forest as a part of their regular school week. Ms. Brooke studied with both David Sobel and Eliza Minucci through her time attending Antioch University New England. In recent news, Washington just became the first state to license nature-based preschools. We’re grateful we’ve been able to create a program like this for our community!

Not only did we spend a good chunk of our time in the forest, but we also took some time to play in our straw maze and welcome the newest additions to our farm: a mother rabbit and her six kits! Our special forest snack is always popcorn with our very own Tollgate maple syrup for dipping. Farm Sprouts were encouraged to lick their plates (but only in the forest!) We owe our thanks for this delicious treat for dipping our popcorn to our operations team, our maple sugaring volunteers, the sugar maple trees, and our winter Farm Sprouts! They helped tap trees, haul buckets of sap, and supported the volunteers with good cheer and great questions. While we munched our popcorn snack, we enjoyed the book, Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson. Farm Sprouts noted that some leaves were beginning to change color and we identified the differences between beech and sugar maple trees. Other discoveries included fungi, insects, acorns, some munched by animals, and the tubing for our maple sugaring operation that makes our forest special. We concluded our day with our goodbye routine, giving special thanks to the trees.

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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