Field & Classroom Activities
Often, we split the OFTP group into 3 groups of 5 or 6 for hands-on activities, so each participant gets an opportunity to try out a new tool or skill. Some hands-on activities or farm demonstrations work well as a full group.
Although most class days are spent at the MSU Student Organic Farm, expect field trips to Detroit, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Grand Rapids and Southwest Michigan where we visit four farms in each region. We also spend a weekend in Traverse City to visit many farms there. OFTP participants often list these field trips as a highlight of the program, giving them insight into 20 different ways to approach infrastructure, growing methods and other farm techniques.
Lectures by the OFTP instructor are available online to save class time for hands-on activities, farm walks, group discussions and guest speakers.
Group discussions, vision sharing presentations and Farm Business Plan Presentations allow the cohort to learn from each other. We also split into small groups to brainstorm ideas for a participant's farm, for hands-on activities, etc. The OFTP workbook allows a space to think through your farm plan and class topics.
Seeing the progress of crops on our 7 acres of outdoor production and in the 9 hoophouses can lead to lots of discussions. Here, Denae is discussing covering the rollup sides, vents and doors of our cucumber hoophouse with Proteknet to keep out pests and grow a seedless cucumber variety that doesn't need pollination.
We are lucky to have over a dozen guest speakers, including:
- Farmers discussing crop planning, loan options, finances, livestock, running a seed business and the nitty gritty of their farms
- OFTP graduates sharing their Farm Business Plans and discussing their farms
- MSU professors and staff leading hands-on activities like pruning & beekeeping
- Extension educators discussing food safety or leading a crop disease farm walk