Learn about pork production at the Tollgate Harvest Pig Roast
The Tollgate Farm and Education Center is hosting a pig roast Oct. 1, 2016, to teach about sustainable agriculture and local food sources.
Thousands of 4-H members across Michigan are engaged in animal science projects, learning about numerous scientific fields such as anatomy, chemistry and microbiology, as well as life skills such as responsibility and personal safety. Many 4-H youth also learn about food production because they are working with beef cattle, dairy cattle, goats, poultry, sheep or swine – animals that ultimately enter the human food chain. Having firsthand knowledge of animal agriculture, and agriculture in general, is important for youth and adults to understand how food moves from fields, pastures and barns to grocery stores and, ultimately, their table.
The Michigan State University Tollgate Farm and Education Center in Oakland County is one location where MSU Extension is working to help increase agriculture education opportunities for youth and adults. MSU Tollgate hosts numerous events throughout the year, including Pumpkinfest in October, youth day camps during the summer, a community supported agriculture membership (CSA), and much more. New to the calendar this year is the Tollgate Harvest Pig Roast on Oct. 1, 2016.
Will Jaquinde, sustainable agriculture instructor and CSA coordinator at MSU Tollgate, is excited for the roast. “We wanted to have an event that celebrated local food, especially what we grow at the Tollgate farm,” Jaquinde said. “Our CSA program is a great success, connecting people with locally grown food, but we wanted to do something more than have people pick up their raw vegetables. The pig roast really allows us to show the full-circle fruits of our labor. Much like Pumpkinfest, this is a family-friendly event where everyone is welcome to enjoy the fall harvest at Tollgate.”
During the summer, two Berkshire pigs were purchased from Steinhauser Farms and moved to MSU Tollgate. The pigs were raised on pasture for two months before arriving at the MSU Meat Lab. The Meat Lab, part of MSU’s Department of Animal Science and Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, processed the pigs and will have the meat ready for final preparations this weekend. Several other local businesses will be working with MSU Tollgate to prepare for the roast, including C.A.Y.A. Smokehouse Grill and Sunflour Bakehaus.
“The Tollgate Harvest Pig Roast is a great way to showcase and engage with local food providers in southeast Michigan. It is an opportunity to share with the larger community, specifically those who might not be directly connected to agriculture, how much food is grown around them and teach about sustainable agriculture,” Jaquinde said.
Alongside a locally produced dinner held in the 200-year-old historic barn, guests of the pig roast will have the chance to tour MSU Tollgate, including the 1.5 acre CSA field, and see where the pigs were pastured to learn more about pork production. There will be an informational scavenger hunt where attendees will learn about Michigan agriculture, earning them the opportunity to be entered into a raffle for a basket of winter vegetables grown at MSU Tollgate.
“This is my first year with Tollgate and I am very excited about the new, innovative programming we are sharing with the public. We have a great farm and location to show we are growing local, healthy foods connected to our community,” Jaquinde said.
Alan Jaros, education director at MSU Tollgate, commented, “We couldn’t be more excited to give visitors a first-hand look at how the items on their dinner plate are created. People often leave here with a renewed outlook. This is another great opportunity to explore and experience food production, emphasizing the value of local and seasonal agriculture.”
The Tollgate Farm and Education Center is an amazing resource in southeast Michigan to learn about agriculture and science for youth and adults. Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan 4-H Youth Development program helps to create a community excited about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). 4-H STEM programming seeks to increase science literacy, introducing youth to the experiential learning process that helps them to build problem-solving, critical-thinking and decision-making skills. Youth who participate in 4-H STEM content are better equipped with critical life skills necessary for future success. To learn more about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth in STEM literacy programs, read our 2015 Impact Report: “Building Science Literacy and Future STEM Professionals.”