The North Farm Extension Workshop series highlights on-farm food production

Extension workshops are scheduled at the North Farm to support Upper Peninsula citizens’ utilization of season extension technologies to produce food both for their own homes and for the local markets.

Transplant production will be one of the first workshop offerings – teaching farmers how to start vegetable crops early to get a jump start on the short Upper Peninsula growing season. | Michigan State University Extension
Transplant production will be one of the first workshop offerings – teaching farmers how to start vegetable crops early to get a jump start on the short Upper Peninsula growing season. | Michigan State University Extension

The primary goal of The North Farm, a collaborative operation supported by Michigan State University Extension and Michigan State University AgBioResearch located in Chatham, Michigan, is to support the growth of new farmers producing nutrient-rich food for Upper Peninsula markets.  The opportunity to utilize season extension technologies, such as hoophouses, to realize this goal has been embraced by U.P. citizens, although many of the growing practices are new.  In response, a series of educational workshops will be hosted by Farm Manager, Collin Thompson, and other North Farm staff throughout the 2015 growing and harvesting season.  All workshops will be held on-site starting at 2 pm and will include a combination of hands-on and classroom activities.  Each workshop also qualifies for education hours through the MSU Extension Master Gardener program

Registration is required for these events can be accessed at:

The following workshops will be offered:

Siting and Planning for Hoophouses — April 11

Site preparation is arguably the most crucial point in hoophouse construction. Join the North Farm for a discussion regarding proper site preparation and considerations for hoophouses and learn about drainage, solar exposure, anchoring mechanisms, and snow load considerations. This workshop will be incredibly valuable for individuals in the planning stages of their hoophouse construction.

Transplant Production – May 2

Healthy seedlings lead to healthy crops. Come learn some techniques and tricks for growing healthy transplants. We will discuss lighting considerations, temperature requirements, watering techniques, and hoophouse transplant production. We will also demonstrate different styles of transplant production, including open flats, plug trays, and soil blocks.

Low-Cost Season Extension Technologies and Techniques — May 16

Extending the season does not have to be cost prohibitive. Come learn about low-cost ways of gaining weeks in the spring and fall. We will discuss low tunnel and high tunnel technologies, row covers, and crop selection to make sure you can keep producing into the back side of the calendar.

Scheduling and Production Planning – June 6

One of the most exciting and challenging parts of farming is production planning. This workshop will focus on planning your crop schedule to provide consistent supply to meet your market or family’s demands. We will discuss variety selection, succession planting, crop rotations, and cover cropping.

Tools for the Small Farm — July 18

Join the North Farm staff for a discussion on the tools that we use on our small farm. These purpose-built tools serve to lessen labor inputs, decrease worker fatigue, and maximize yields. We will also discuss suppliers from which you can source tools and supplies. You will have the opportunity to try out several of our tools.

Post-harvest Handling — August 8

One of the most crucial parts of vegetable production is post-harvest handling. With proper care after harvest, your crop will not only look amazing, but it will last longer on the shelf and will be safe to eat. Come learn about techniques, tools, and systems that will help you maximize the salable portion of your harvested crop while maintaining a level of efficiency and safety.

Cold Storage – September 26

Cold storage is essential for extended shelf life in vegetable crops. Come learn about different options for cold storage and the benefits of each. We will discuss root cellaring, refrigeration, and cold chain considerations during transport.

Soil Health and Cover Crop Rotations – October 17

Soil health is the backbone of any farm and integrating cover cropping systems aids in the development of healthy soil systems. Join The North Farm staff for a discussion regarding planning cover crop schedules, analyzing soil health, and management strategies for organic systems.

If you have any questions about the workshop offerings, feel free to contact Collin Thompson at 906-439-5059 or  

Did you find this article useful?