Meet Your Farmers
Darby Anderson, Sustainable Agriculture Instructor
Darby came to Tollgate in 2017 from Pennsylvania. Her interest in agriculture began in college where she did 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 and 2020 season. During the 2021 season, she had the opportunity to take over the program as the Sustainable Agriculture Instructor. In this position she oversees Tollgate's Summer and Fall CSA's, facilitates the Beginner Farmer Apprenticeship and creates programming on small-scale sustainable agriculture.
Gwen, CSA Production Manager
Gwen was a member of the first apprentice cohort in 2016. She returned in 2017 as the Field Manager and in 2018 began her own farm by incubating on site for the next three years. Root to Rise Farm offers organically grown produce through local farmers markets and a CSA. In 2021, she rejoined the team in a permanent position as the CSA Production Manager. She manages many of the day to day tasks of the operation such as greenhouse work, planting and weeding. Having run her own farm for 3 years, her knowledge and skill set is invaluable to the operation and the apprenticeship!
A member of the 2021 crew, Patty brought extensive animal husbandry skills and vegetable gardening knowledge. In addition to working at Tollgate, she was also tending her church's garden and a personal porch garden! Patty's goal is to purchase land in Michigan to raise animals and crops. She is currently pursuing a Fruit and Vegetable Crop Management certificate through MSU's Institute of Agricultural Technology!
Nicole joined us the 2021 season in a dual role of Apprentice and Multi-Media Communications Assistant. Before moving to Michigan for the apprenticeship, she spent a summer working on a vegetable farm in New York. After the Apprenticeship, Nicole moved back to New York to pursue a career in farming closer to her family!
Jim was a member of the 2021 crew. Despite joining us mid-season, he jumped right in and helped us finish out the season strong. Jim hopes to find another apprenticeship focusing on rotational grazing to help him achieve his end goal of purchasing land in Michigan to raise both animals and crops.
Katie joined us in 2019 while pursuing her Environmental Science degree at the University of Michigan Dearborn. Currently she manages the education garden on site, assists with other educational programs, hosts the Evenings in the Garden lecture series, and works in the CSA fields as a Field Crew Member when needed. She dreams of gardening and one day operating her own small farm with herbs, flowers and more!
A member of the 2018 cohort, Sara currently works for the Detroit Land Bank on land-based projects such as urban agriculture, gardens, and playgrounds. In her free time she is fixing up a house downtown where she hopes to start a small farm with a hoop house in her side lot.
Julia joined us for the 2018 season. Since the apprenticeship she has worked on various farms along the east coast. Most recently she finished up a season on a farm in Maine, while also pursuing another passion of ceramic art!
An MSU grad and 2017 apprentice, Eli is now the Assistant Farm Manager for Square Roots Farm in Grand Rapids, an innovative urban farming company. He started working at the Brooklyn, NY campus, but has recently transferred to the Grand Rapids campus. Square Roots uses shipping containers outfitted with hydroponic equipment to provide local greens like basil, chives, and mint.
A member of the first cohort in 2016, Ryan made his way from Oregon to join us for the apprenticeship. After graduating the apprenticeship Ryan worked for Focus Hope in Detroit and continued to work on his urban food plot in the Brightmoor neighborhood. In 2020, he made the move to North Carolina to work on a farm!
Will Jaquinde, Sustainable Agriculture Instructor (2016-2020)
In 2016 Will joined the Tollgate team and created the sustainable agriculture program, managed the CSA and developed the apprenticeship program. Under his leadership the sustainable ag. program saw tremendous (sustainable) growth, including a farm incubator, farm to table events and more.