It was another brilliant fall day in Michigan to celebrate our last day of Farm Sprouts for the season! We signed in today by sharing a favorite memory or activity to add to our memory mailbox from our experiences at MSU Tollgate Farm. The Welcome Activities included playing our Animal Products Sorting and our Animal Coverings Matching Games. We’ve spent a lot of time making connections between our farm animals and their products through experiential learning. Animal coverings were an important part of our discussions regarding how plants and animals prepare for winter. These games were great ways to observe and have a conversation about Farm Sprouts’ current understandings as a result of their experiences.
To bring closure to the program, we said goodbye in Spanish to all of our farm animals using puppets and stuffed animals and sang our “Buenos días” song by Jose-Luis Orozco. We had a discussion about our Wonder Wall, which sparked fond memories from the past fall.
Before heading outside, we prepared a smoothie during our Mini Garden Kitchen. Farm Sprouts trimmed the lettuce they grew themselves, chopped apples, and added ingredients to whip up a delicious cranberry smoothie.
Michigan Cranberry Smoothie
1/2 cup Michigan cranberries, frozen
1 apple, chopped
1 cup organic whole plain yogurt
a handful of mixed lettuce (grown by our Fall Farm Sprouts!)
1 Tbs Tollgate Farm honey
2 Tbs coconut water
1/2 tsp cinnamon/nutmeg
We’ve worked as a part of the farm community during the season and increased our knowledge as a group, so creating a class mural showcasing some of the ideas we explored was a useful exercise and assessment tool. For this afternoon group, we took advantage of the warmer weather by working under the pavilion. Farm Sprouts jumped right in to choose materials of interest to add their thinking to the mural, working both independently and collaboratively.
During our day in the forest, Farm Sprouts discovered an old dump pile with garbage, which we later learned was from quite some time ago. They came up with the idea to clean it up, including formulating a plan for how to accomplish the task. We used garbage bags and wore gloves or mittens to fill bags plus the back of one of our utility vehicles. Farm Sprouts worked really hard together as a team and felt really good about the work they accomplished. In addition, we enjoyed a beautiful walk in the woods. The fallen leaves came up to our knees! We enjoyed our smoothies on the bridge while listening to the story, Wild Child by Lynn Plourde, donated to Tollgate by Marilyn Diekman, which was the perfect ending story to our fall program.
We ended our program with a tractor-pulled wagon ride around the farm with some of our family members. The forest looked much different than at the beginning of the season, even to our mid-season “Forest Day” hike. The trees are mostly bare, with just a few brown leaves remaining. We said goodbye to the farm and to the animals. Thank you, Farm Sprouts families, for joining us this fall season!
We ended with a tour of the classroom and the opportunity to feed our turtle, Coltrane, some of the lettuce we had grown. He seemed to enjoy it immensely!
Special thanks go to Melanie Connors for all she contributed in terms of time, energy, thought, and care to make this program really special.
I’d also like to thank the MSU Tollgate Farm and Education Center staff, who without them, this program would not be possible. Thank you, Roy, Joe, and Norb, for your help driving and preparing the tractor and wagon for us, for maintaining the grounds and our classroom. Many kind thanks to Ellen Koehler, for your endless support and for sharing ideas from your incredible knowledge base when it comes to outdoor education. Thank you, Karen Craig, for your assistance with marketing. Thank you to Will Jaquinde for advice on all matters plant-related. Nicole S. rocks when it comes to caring for our animals! Many thanks to Deb, Nicole B., Rosina, Gary, and Tim for your enthusiasm and support. Lastly, thank you to Alan Jaros, for the counsel and inspiration you provide me.