Meet our Staff and Volunteers September 2020

Deanna Wagner is an agricultural laborer who started at MSU Tollgate in 2019. Deanna originally started her agricultural career at The Henry Ford/Greenfield Village. Since starting at Tollgate, Deanna has immersed herself in learning everything about the farm. She has also continued her learning journey at Wayne County Community College, receiving her Landscape Management Certificate in 2020. Deanna is a great coworker who cares deeply about the farm and works incredibly hard to keep it running smoothly. Thank you for all you do Deanna!

Kari Heughens joined the MSU Tollgate Farm staff as an Event Coordinator in September of 2018. In her role at Tollgate, Kari organizes events both big and small. MSU Tollgate Farm offers a very unique venue for business meetings, private celebrations, and wedding ceremonies. One of the larger events Kari helps organize is our annual Pumpkinfest. Kari loves her position as it offers the opportunity to learn and work with a great staff of people and when desired, a walk outside visiting the animals living on the farm.Kari has three grown children and 4 granddaughters all 6 years old and younger. She loves being able to have her grandchildren visit the farm and attend the community events MSU Tollgate Farm has throughout the year. This year has been a tough year, especially holding events at the farm. It has required creative thinking to translate our in-person events to virtual events. This summer, Kari and co-workers created the Tollgate Camp in A Box. The boxes contained a variety of items to teach and explore the skills needed to survive in the woods and garden at home. Kari feels very fortunate to work with kind and creative people at Tollgate. Everyone at the farm helps one another perfecting the idea of team work. Kari is proud of her position at Tollgate Farm and continues to look for ways to adapt events virtually, which allows her to grow her skillset and be on the lookout for inspirational ideas! Thank you for all your do Kari!

John has been involved with and a driving force behind the Tollgate maple syrup project for over twenty years. He has been a great supporter of all activities that focus on Tollgate’s 40 acre woodlot. Woodlot management, forest inventory, tree identification and, of course, maple syrup production, are all near to his heart. John comes by his love of the woods honestly. He owns over 300 acres in the upper peninsula and is a past president of the Michigan Forest Association. John is also a civil engineer by training and a former owner of a paving contracting firm. When you walk through Tollgate’s woods, appreciate the benefits that John has helped create: not only the tubing system which helps us collect sap to make over 100 gallons of yummy maple syrup each year, but also the paved trails that John’s company installed many years ago. Thank you John for all that you do for the farm!

Darby is the Production Manager on the Sustainable Agriculture team. Darby came to Tollgate in 2017 from Pennsylvania. Her interest in agriculture began in college where she did a lot of work with local food systems and food education. She started as an apprentice that summer to gain experience in production agriculture. She loved it so much that she came back as the Field Manager the next summer and served as the Production manager during the 2019 season. She manages many of the day to day tasks of the operation such as greenhouse work, planting and weeding. Darby works incredibly hard to provide our CSA members with amazing produce and still manages to help out others on the farm all with a positive attitude that makes it fun to have her as a coworker. Her passion for growing produce is evident in her work and we are lucky to have her as part of our team. Thank you for all you do for Tollgate Darby!

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