2022 Tollgate Farm Homegrown Gardening series kicks off Feb. 12

Topics include sustainable methods for the home vegetable garden, seasons in the garden, edible landscapes, garden pests, adaptive gardening and how to safely preserve homegrown produce.

Homegrown Gardening promo graphic.

With the recent surge of interest in home vegetable gardening, more adults, seniors and families with children are exploring how they can grow their own vegetables. Michigan State University Tollgate Farm’s Homegrown Gardening series hosts Michigan State University Extension educators from across the state to share their knowledge and equip participants with research-based ideas and methods for growing vegetables. Over 230 households joined Tollgate for the 2021 series, which featured topics such as getting started growing vegetables, seed-starting, growing in small spaces, season extension, and vegetable harvest and storage. 

The 2022 Tollgate Farm Homegrown Gardening series kicks off Feb. 12 with a session on healthy soils for the backyard vegetable garden. Did you know every teaspoon of soil is home to millions of microorganisms and all of them play an essential role in your soil's health? Darby Anderson, Tollgate’s sustainable agriculture instructor, will explore the inner workings of what goes into healthy soil and dig deep into the soil as an ecosystem, soil testing, organic matter, cover crops and mulch.

The second session on March 12 will focus on composting for the smart garden and feature Sarah Rautio, MSU Extension Master Gardener state program coordinator, and Rebecca Krans, MSU Extension consumer horticulture educator.

According to the study “Gardening is Beneficial for Health: A Meta-analysis” in Science Direct, “Gardening can improve physical, psychological and social health, which can, from a long-term perspective, alleviate and prevent various health issues facing today's society.” Gardening is therapeutic in and of itself and growing one’s own food is as healthy as it is satisfying. Backyard vegetable gardening combines physical activity and exposure to nature and sunlight with positive outcomes for the gardener.

A special request from one of last year’s participants spurred the design of a special workshop on adaptive gardening. On July 9, the Michigan Horticultural Therapeutic Association will lead a morning hybrid workshop on adaptive gardening for health and wellbeing. This special hybrid session will explore adaptive gardening and tools and the positive effects gardening has on social, physical and mental health. The proper use of tools, posture and other adaptive resources and the beneficial activities used in horticultural therapy can help all individuals benefit from plants and gardening.

The 2022 sessions will once again bring the experience of MSU Extension to gardeners of all ages with sessions on sustainable methods for the home vegetable garden, seasons in the garden, edible landscapes, garden pests, adaptive gardening and how to safely preserve homegrown produce.

All sessions take place the second Saturday of each month until Sept. 10. All sessions are virtual but some are in a hybrid format where participants can choose to Zoom in from home or attend the farm for an in-person presentation. Explore the joys and benefits of vegetable gardening with inspiring homegrown gardening workshops designed to be fun and engaging.

To learn more or to register, go to 2022 MSU Tollgate Farm HomeGrown Gardening Series.

Email Ellen Koehler at koehle43@msu.edu with questions.

Past participants had this to say about the program

  • “I think the program is wonderful! I am a beginning gardener, and this information is very helpful. Thank you!"
  • "Adaptive gardening. You've added closed captioning, now have something for those who struggle with getting around to garden. I tried straw bale gardening this year and love it since things are not down on the ground and higher than most raised beds. That's just one possibility for those of us who struggle with traditional, in-the-ground gardening." 
  • "This was a lot of fun. I especially like the Saturday morning time. It made me very excited to visit Tollgate whenever it reopens, as well. Thank you!"
  • "It was excellent, especially being new to gardening..."
  • "Great topics, great presenters, and very nice to be able to attend remotely."

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