Check Out the Tollgate Camp Video!

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2019 Fall Farm Sprouts – Week #1 Wednesday PM

We were beyond thrilled to kick-off our first week of the 2019 fall season of our Farm Sprouts program! We have sixty-two preschoolers coming from five Michigan counties to join our farm community. We had a beautiful first week with Farm Sprouts falling into the routines and rhythms of life on the farm. During our first weeks, we focus on building a sense of belonging and community and establishing safety routines through songs, games, and other creative ways to keep us all flowing together as we explore and adventure about the 160 acres at our disposal. Each fall season we investigate the big question, “How do plants and animals prepare for winter?” and each fall we head in different directions based on the interest of the children, teachers, and what is happening on the farm. Thus far, Farm Sprouts have wondered about our visiting geese munching apples, pipevine swallowtail caterpillars munching vines, our new silver appleyard ducks unsure of all of the little faces peering into their fenced area, and so much more. Their questions, interests, and enthusiasm for different aspects of the farm will help steer our adventures in learning in the weeks to come!

Each week, both parents and Farm Sprouts sign in upon arrival. Our sign-in supports building community, developing early literacy skills, and creating agency by incorporating choice and preference into their farm experience. This first week, we voted for honeybees or butterflies. Butterflies were the more popular choice and we were fortunate to spot various species of butterflies during our travels about the farm, from monarchs to cabbage whites. They also personalized their journals, which will be the place in which they document their discoveries on the farm over the course of the season, and explored the classroom before we gathered as a group. In our large group gathering, we sang a song to get to know each other’s names (“Hi-Ho the Dairy-O”) before heading outside.

Once outside, we explored in the Children’s Garden and engaged in our “Invitations to Play,” which included a sensory table with corn, animals, troughs, and scoops, a bin of animal furs to explore animal coverings, and a stick art project in which Farm Sprouts glued craft materials representing various animal coverings (scales, feathers, fur, and wool) on the sticks. You will see these process-based art projects displayed around our classroom. We thought about what covers our own people bodies… skin and hair! We marveled at how wonderfully diverse people and animal skin and hair can be, showing up in all different colors, shades, textures, and lengths. Who else on the farm is covered in skin and hair like us? Why do animals have different coverings? These are questions we will continue to investigate!

Since it was so very hot, we came up with a new idea to cool ourselves down. We hiked to the stream flowing into our pond, removed our shoes, and dipped our bare feet into the cool water underneath the cypress tree. It was a relaxing and enjoyable moment to share after some busy work and play.

Next, we were ready for our harvest snack… tomatoes! An impending storm pushed us indoors after noting some of the different places they grow on the farm. Many Farm Sprouts who don’t normally eat tomatoes were adventurous and gave them a try. Some discovered they liked them! We ate all different shapes, sizes, and colors of tomatoes. Tomatoes can be quite diverse in appearance, just like animals. We enjoyed the story, Too Many Tomatoes by Eric Ode while we snacked. Farm Sprouts carried on with discovery and play in the classroom while a storm rumbled by outside.

We wrapped up our day back outdoors by joining hands for our closing routine; what we call our “vinyasa farm flow.” We’re so grateful to our Sustainable Agriculture team. They support us with our harvest snack and take the time to interact with Farm Sprouts in their busy days of providing shares of locally grown food for the community. We also have to share our appreciation for our Operations team for all they do to maintain the grounds, buildings and support us in countless ways to make this program possible. Lastly, we want to say welcome to our new staff member, Ms. Jennifer! She is an incredible addition to our team! We look forward to seeing you all next week for more fun and learning at the farm…

“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.” – Maya Angelou

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2019 Fall Farm Sprouts – Week #1 Wednesday AM

We were beyond thrilled to kick-off our first week of the 2019 fall season of our Farm Sprouts program! We have sixty-two preschoolers coming from five Michigan counties to join our farm community. We had a beautiful first week with Farm Sprouts falling into the routines and rhythms of life on the farm. During our first weeks, we focus on building a sense of belonging and community and establishing safety routines through songs, games, and other creative ways to keep us all flowing together as we explore and adventure about the 160 acres at our disposal. Each fall season we investigate the big question, “How do plants and animals prepare for winter?” and each fall we head in different directions based on the interest of the children, teachers, and what is happening on the farm. Thus far, Farm Sprouts have wondered about our visiting geese munching apples, pipevine swallowtail caterpillars munching vines, our new silver appleyard ducks unsure of all of the little faces peering into their fenced area, and so much more. Their questions, interests, and enthusiasm for different aspects of the farm will help steer our adventures in learning in the weeks to come!

Each week, both parents and Farm Sprouts sign in upon arrival. Our sign-in supports building community, developing early literacy skills, and creating agency by incorporating choice and preference into their farm experience. This first week, we voted for honeybees or butterflies. Butterflies were the more popular choice and we were fortunate to spot various species of butterflies during our travels about the farm, from monarchs to cabbage whites. They also personalized their journals, which will be the place in which they document their discoveries on the farm over the course of the season, and explored the classroom before we gathered as a group. In our large group gathering, we sang a song to get to know each other’s names (“Hi-Ho the Dairy-O”) before heading outside.

Once outside, we engaged in our “Invitations to Play,” which included a sensory table with corn, animals, troughs, and scoops, a bin of animal furs to explore animal coverings, and a stick art project in which Farm Sprouts glued craft materials representing various animal coverings (scales, feathers, fur, and wool) on the sticks. You will see these process-based art projects displayed around our classroom. We thought about what covers our own people bodies… skin and hair! We marveled at how wonderfully diverse people and animal skin and hair can be, showing up in all different colors, shades, textures, and lengths. Who else on the farm is covered in skin and hair like us? Why do animals have different coverings? These are questions we will continue to investigate!

Next, we were ready for our harvest snack… tomatoes! We discovered tomatoes in some of the different places on the farm and stopped to chat with Farmer Will. Many Farm Sprouts who don’t normally eat tomatoes were adventurous and gave them a try. Some discovered they liked them! We ate all different shapes, sizes, and colors of tomatoes. Tomatoes can be quite diverse in appearance, just like animals. We enjoyed the story, Too Many Tomatoes by Eric Ode while we snacked.

We wrapped up our day with a wagon ride around the farm. We stopped at the C.S.A field, chatted with our farmers, Ms. Darby and Ms. Gwen, and stopped to feed a special snack of frozen peas and watermelon to our ducks. We’re so grateful to our Sustainable Agriculture team. They support us with our harvest snack and take the time to interact with Farm Sprouts in their busy days of providing shares of locally grown food for the community. We also have to share our appreciation for our Operations team for all they do to maintain the grounds, buildings and support us in countless ways to make this program possible. Lastly, we want to say welcome to our new staff member, Ms. Jennifer! She is an incredible addition to our team! We look forward to seeing you all next week for more fun and learning at the farm…

“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.” – Maya Angelou

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2019 Fall Farm Sprouts – Week #1 Tuesday PM

We were beyond thrilled to kick-off our first week of the 2019 fall season of our Farm Sprouts program! We have sixty-two preschoolers coming from five Michigan counties to join our farm community. We had a beautiful first week with Farm Sprouts falling into the routines and rhythms of life on the farm. During our first weeks, we focus on building a sense of belonging and community and establishing safety routines through songs, games, and other creative ways to keep us all flowing together as we explore and adventure about the 160 acres at our disposal. Each fall season we investigate the big question, “How do plants and animals prepare for winter?” and each fall we head in different directions based on the interest of the children, teachers, and what is happening on the farm. Thus far, Farm Sprouts have wondered about our visiting geese munching apples, pipevine swallowtail caterpillars munching vines, our new silver appleyard ducks unsure of all of the little faces peering into their fenced area, and so much more. Their questions, interests, and enthusiasm for different aspects of the farm will help steer our adventures in learning in the weeks to come!

Each week, both parents and Farm Sprouts sign in upon arrival. Our sign-in supports building community, developing early literacy skills, and creating agency by incorporating choice and preference into their farm experience. This first week, we voted for honeybees or butterflies. Butterflies were the more popular choice and we were fortunate to spot various species of butterflies during our travels about the farm, from monarchs to cabbage whites. They also personalized their journals, which will be the place in which they document their discoveries on the farm over the course of the season, and explored the classroom before we gathered as a group. In our large group gathering, we sang a song to get to know each other’s names (“Hi-Ho the Dairy-O”) before heading outside.

Once outside, we explored in the Children’s Garden and engaged in our “Invitations to Play,” which included a sensory table with corn, animals, troughs, and scoops, a bin of animal furs to explore animal coverings, and a stick art project in which Farm Sprouts glued craft materials representing various animal coverings (scales, feathers, fur, and wool) on the sticks. You will see these process-based art projects displayed around our classroom. We thought about what covers our own people bodies… skin and hair! We marveled at how wonderfully diverse people and animal skin and hair can be, showing up in all different colors, shades, textures, and lengths. Who else on the farm is covered in skin and hair like us? Why do animals have different coverings? These are questions we will continue to investigate!

Next, we were ready for our harvest snack… tomatoes! We discovered and harvested tomatoes in some of the different places on the farm. Many Farm Sprouts who don’t normally eat tomatoes were adventurous and gave them a try. Some discovered they liked them! We ate all different shapes, sizes, and colors of tomatoes. Tomatoes can be quite diverse in appearance, just like animals. We enjoyed the story, Too Many Tomatoes by Eric Ode while we snacked.

We wrapped up our day with a wagon ride around the farm. We stopped at the C.S.A field, chatted with our farmers, checked on the sunflowers Farm Sprouts planted in the spring (now so very tall!) and stopped to feed a special snack of frozen peas and watermelon to our ducks. We even had a visit with some of our sheep. We’re so grateful to our Sustainable Agriculture team. They support us with our harvest snack and take the time to interact with Farm Sprouts in their busy days of providing shares of locally grown food for the community. We also have to share our appreciation for our Operations team for all they do to maintain the grounds, buildings and support us in countless ways to make this program possible. Lastly, we want to say welcome to our new staff member, Ms. Jennifer! She is an incredible addition to our team! We look forward to seeing you all next week for more fun and learning at the farm…

“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.” – Maya Angelou

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2019 Fall Farm Sprouts – Week #1 Tuesday AM

We were beyond thrilled to kick-off our first week of the 2019 fall season of our Farm Sprouts program! We have sixty-two preschoolers coming from five Michigan counties to join our farm community. We had a beautiful first week with Farm Sprouts falling into the routines and rhythms of life on the farm. During our first weeks, we focus on building a sense of belonging and community and establishing safety routines through songs, games, and other creative ways to keep us all flowing together as we explore and adventure about the 160 acres at our disposal. Each fall season we investigate the big question, “How do plants and animals prepare for winter?” and each fall we head in different directions based on the interest of the children, teachers, and what is happening on the farm. Thus far, Farm Sprouts have wondered about our visiting geese munching apples, pipevine swallowtail caterpillars munching vines, our new silver appleyard ducks unsure of all of the little faces peering into their fenced area, and so much more. Their questions, interests, and enthusiasm for different aspects of the farm will help steer our adventures in learning in the weeks to come!

Each week, both parents and Farm Sprouts sign in upon arrival. Our sign-in supports building community, developing early literacy skills, and creating agency by incorporating choice and preference into their farm experience. This first week, we voted for honeybees or butterflies. Butterflies were the more popular choice and we were fortunate to spot various species of butterflies during our travels about the farm, from monarchs to cabbage whites. They also personalized their journals, which will be the place in which they document their discoveries on the farm over the course of the season, and explored the classroom before we gathered as a group. In our large group gathering, we sang a song to get to know each other’s names (“Hi-Ho the Dairy-O”) before heading outside.

Once outside, we engaged in our “Invitations to Play,” which included a sensory table with corn, animals, troughs, and scoops, a bin of animal furs to explore animal coverings, and a stick art project in which Farm Sprouts glued craft materials representing various animal coverings (scales, feathers, fur, and wool) on the sticks. You will see these process-based art projects displayed around our classroom. We thought about what covers our own people bodies… skin and hair! We marveled at how wonderfully diverse people and animal skin and hair can be, showing up in all different colors, shades, textures, and lengths. Who else on the farm is covered in skin and hair like us? Why do animals have different coverings? These are questions we will continue to investigate!

Next, we were ready for our harvest snack… tomatoes! We discovered and harvested tomatoes in some of the different places on the farm. Many Farm Sprouts who don’t normally eat tomatoes were adventurous and gave them a try. Some discovered they liked them! We ate all different shapes, sizes, and colors of tomatoes. Tomatoes can be quite diverse in appearance, just like animals. We enjoyed the story, Too Many Tomatoes by Eric Ode while we snacked.

We wrapped up our day with a wagon ride around the farm. We stopped at the C.S.A field, chatted with our farmers, discovered more tomatoes, and stopped to feed a special snack of frozen peas and watermelon to our ducks. We’re so grateful to our Sustainable Agriculture team. They support us with our harvest snack and take the time to interact with Farm Sprouts in their busy days of providing shares of locally grown food for the community. We also have to share our appreciation for our Operations team for all they do to maintain the grounds, buildings and support us in countless ways to make this program possible. Lastly, we want to say welcome to our new staff member, Ms. Jennifer! She is an incredible addition to our team! We look forward to seeing you all next week for more fun and learning at the farm…

“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.”
– Maya Angelou

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New Faces on the Farm

We are proud to welcome four new members to our Tollgate staff!

Allison Aigner is a new educational program leader. Allison is a recent 2018 Michigan State University graduate and is so excited to be working for her favorite school! Her major at MSU was Environmental Studies and Sustainability, with a minor in Sustainable Food and Agriculture Systems. Agriculture and farming have been a part of Allison’s life for as long as she can remember. She started riding horses when she was 8 years old and now is a horse trainer and competes with her own horses in cowboy mounted shooting. Allison was also an active participant in her local 4-H club, showing her horse for several years and becoming a youth leader. She has worked on two different organic vegetable farms, one being our very own MSU Student Organic Farm during her undergraduate studies. Being an educator at MSU Tollgate Farm will give Allison the perfect opportunity to combine all of her passions – agriculture, outdoors, healthy living, and inspiring kids to get involved in their community food systems!

Jennifer Dunlap is an early childhood instructional guide. Jennifer Cherry Dunlap received her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from the University of Michigan-Dearborn in 2003. She majored in Mathematics and minored in Science and Technology.  Jennifer took time away from teaching to be a stay-at-home mother to her three children, ages 10,7, and 4. Jennifer most recently has had the privilege of being a substitute teacher at the school her children attend. She also volunteers at the school whenever possible. Currently, Jennifer is at the beginning of her journey towards a Master of Environmental Education degree. As part of that education program, she attends conferences, seminars, and courses related to nature-based education. In her free time, she enjoys raising butterflies and sunflowers with her children. She truly, deeply believes in the nature-based method of teaching and spends as much time as possible in nature promoting this with her own children. She encourages them to play outside, rain or shine, building and exploring nature and all it has to offer. Jennifer is excited to do the same with your child. 

Sara Mund is our day camp coordinator. Sara is a Florida native and a graduate of Flagler College with a degree in  Elementary/Exceptional Education and a Minor in Environmental Science. After graduation she worked as a Kindergarten and Special Education teacher and now is excited to begin this new exciting adventure here at Tollgate! During her free time she enjoys running, nature hikes, cooking, traveling, and pretty much anything outdoors!

Deanna Wagner is an agricultural laborer. She originally started her agricultural career at The Henry Ford/Greenfield Village and is happy to continue her journey, grow and learn with MSU Tollgate Farm.

We hope you get a chance to see these new faces around the farm!

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