The MSU Tollgate Farm PAR (Plant A Row For the Hungry) Garden is celebrating 20 years of community service this year! The PAR Garden was founded in 2002 with a charter to provide fresh produce for those who are food-challenged locally. Since then, various teams of wonderful volunteers have toiled to produce an average of 2,600 pounds of fresh produce, with distribution support from Forgotten Harvest, Feed the Need Novi, and CARES of Farmington Hills. The garden, which consists of twenty-five 30 foot by 4 foot beds in an enclosed area at MSU Tollgate Farm in Novi, is maintained by a dedicated group of volunteers with the support of the MSU Tollgate Farm staff.
Over the years, the garden has grown, and many lessons learned have been incorporated into the maintenance of the garden based primarily on MSU Extension Master Gardener principles and gardening experience. Recently, we have concentrated on vegetables with a good shelf life — potatoes, onions, carrots, beets, cabbage, garlic, leeks, summer and winter squash, and turnips. In years past, apples, watermelons, and other vegetables contributed to the bountiful yields. Each year we plan in October, order what is needed in December / January, work with the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) team to grow seedlings in the greenhouse February through April, and really dig into the work effort starting in April with a few workdays per week until mid-October. Our labors include prepping the beds for planting, planting seed potatoes / seedlings / seeds, maintaining the irrigation, weeding, IPM (Integrated Pest Management), harvesting, preparing the produce for distribution and storage, and winterizing the garden.
All volunteers, whether Extension Master Gardeners, avid gardeners, or individuals interested in gardening and community service, regardless of experience level, are welcome to join the team once cleared through the MSU Volunteer Central. We have an enthusiastic, fun, hard-working team, and plenty of rewarding opportunities to help those in need. Come check us out.
If you would like to learn more about volunteering at MSU Tollgate, please visit our website or contact Roy Prentice (firstname.lastname@example.org, 248-347-3860 x251) or Carmen Hamilton (email@example.com, 248-347-3860 x239) for more information.