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A Message From the Director

Dear Bowers Community,

Over the past two months, we have rushed to support our local businesses and retailers who have been hit especially hard by the Covid-19 crisis. I’d like to take this opportunity to remind us all of small-scale agriculture: a sector that’s not so obvious for those of us residing in urban areas. Last year was one of the worst in the past decade for family farmers. With low-commodity prices, rising cost of land-prices, and increasing debts, many are faced with tough decisions. Just last week, I was talking with a friend who is a hog veterinarian in the Midwest. Without means or capacity to butcher hogs, many producers are left with the tough decision to depopulate their stock.  This current crisis may be the “straw that breaks the back” for many small-scale producers. So the question that we must ask is: What can we do to support our community of farmers? 

  • Sign up for a CSA from MSU Tollgate! Getting a weekly basket of local, fresh, and in-season produce may sound like a novelty, but this may be a great way for you to stay committed to local purchasing, especially at a time when we are all spending more time cooking at home. 
  • Shop at your local farmers' market. Many of them are open for business, including specialty pick-up programs at Detroit Eastern Market and Oakland County Farmers Market in Pontiac. Eating local means choosing meals that use seasonal produce. For a better understanding of what’s in season, be sure to check-out a seasonal produce guide.
  • Buying food on the web? Amazon and big-box retailers aren't the only places to buy food. Consider supporting farmers by purchasing online. Michigan Farm to Family is a great web platform that features local food from across the great State of Michigan. The Bowers School Farm will also begin selling seasonal produce and pasture-raised chicken eggs this summer. Be on the lookout for more information about Bowers-grown produce and eggs in the coming weeks!

Farmers are the lifeblood of our society. Our health and well-being depend on our ability to recognize the impact of our daily habits and lifestyle. When we support local growers and producers, we support options and diversity in the food system and work toward a more equitable future. 

Thanks for reading. Stay safe and healthy out there! 

 

Sincerely,

Alan Jaros


More News

Dear Bowers Community,

Over the past two months, we have rushed to support our local businesses and retailers who have been hit especially hard by the Covid-19 crisis. I’d like to take this opportunity to remind us all of small-scale agriculture: a sector that’s not so obvious for those of us residing in urban areas. Last year was one of the worst in the past decade for family farmers. With low-commodity prices, rising cost of land-prices, and increasing debts, many are faced with tough decisions. Just last week, I was talking with a friend who is a hog veterinarian in the Midwest. Without means or capacity to butcher hogs, many producers are left with the tough decision to depopulate their stock.  This current crisis may be the “straw that breaks the back” for many small-scale producers. So the question that we must ask is: What can we do to support our community of farmers? 

  • Sign up for a CSA from MSU Tollgate! Getting a weekly basket of local, fresh, and in-season produce may sound like a novelty, but this may be a great way for you to stay committed to local purchasing, especially at a time when we are all spending more time cooking at home. 
  • Shop at your local farmers' market. Many of them are open for business, including specialty pick-up programs at Detroit Eastern Market and Oakland County Farmers Market in Pontiac. Eating local means choosing meals that use seasonal produce. For a better understanding of what’s in season, be sure to check-out a seasonal produce guide.
  • Buying food on the web? Amazon and big-box retailers aren't the only places to buy food. Consider supporting farmers by purchasing online. Michigan Farm to Family is a great web platform that features local food from across the great State of Michigan. The Bowers School Farm will also begin selling seasonal produce and pasture-raised chicken eggs this summer. Be on the lookout for more information about Bowers-grown produce and eggs in the coming weeks!

Farmers are the lifeblood of our society. Our health and well-being depend on our ability to recognize the impact of our daily habits and lifestyle. When we support local growers and producers, we support options and diversity in the food system and work toward a more equitable future. 

Thanks for reading. Stay safe and healthy out there! 

 

Sincerely,

Alan Jaros

Read More about A Message From the Director

Greetings camp friends, families, and community! 

We are hoping that everyone has found time to do things that bring them joy over the past few months. We miss you all very much here at the farm and are anxiously awaiting the days when we can share our beloved space with you all! Until then, the show must go on! As a team, the Bowers Farm staff has shifted to keep things moving along. We have been using this time to get some big projects done for the farm! All the while, summer camp has been weighing very heavily on our minds. We have been keeping a close eye on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Camp Association for guidance in making a decision about our camp options for this upcoming summer. 

Last week, various administrators within the Bloomfield Hills School district, including myself, met to discuss these options. Our biggest concern during this discussion, of course, is the safety of our campers and the camp staff if we were able to run camp in-person. Unfortunately, based on the current guidance from the CDC, we felt that it would not be in the best interest of our campers or our program to run our June sessions of Farm Camp. We also felt that we would not be able to fully meet the recommendations for our youngest campers and, unfortunately, that means we will not be running any Barnyard Buddies programs for the summer of 2020. 

At this time, we are hopeful that we will be able to safely run camp sessions in the months of July and August on-site and in-person, but this may change in the coming weeks pending further guidance from the CDC, ACA, and Governor Whitmer. The BHS administrators and I will be meeting on May 29th to reassess and solidify our plans for July and August.  

Although we do hope that we will see some of you on our grounds this summer, we are also working on creating virtual options for our campers to take advantage of if we cannot be together. We aim to provide families with a little piece of the farm while they are away, with the intention of fostering a sense of curiosity and love for animals, plants, and natural spaces. We recognize that your children have been working virtually since March so our goal is not to provide video instruction but rather activities that can be completed away from technology. 

As someone who has invested many years into the camp industry, as a camper, a counselor, and now a director, I feel so strongly for the campers who will be missing us this summer, especially since we have been so isolated over these last few months. Summer camp provides a ready-made community for our campers - and we need community now more than ever. We have been working over the last few months to get a camp scholarship fund established so we can be inclusive to all families and allow greater access to our camp experiences for those who otherwise would not be able to afford them. As a part of our community, we hope that you will consider donating to this fund, and specifying in the comments that you would like your donation to go into the Camp Scholarship Fund for future use. 

I am truly hoping that we will be together soon but until that time, know that we are thinking of our community and wishing you all the best! Stay home, stay safe, and we’ll be here to welcome you with open “barns” when we can be together again! 

 

Sincerely,

Kaitlynn Steketee

Read More about Letter from Bowers School Farm Camp Coordinator, Kaitlynn Steketee
Read More about Actions to Support Our Community
Online Farm Extension: DIY Videos, Cooking with Farmer Sharon, and more!

We're bringing the farm to YOU!

Our staff members are working hard to bring the farm home to you during this time! Every day until the farm re-opens, you can find new videos, lessons, and projects on our Facebook page. In the coming weeks, look out for animal spotlights, nature walks, veterinary science lessons, DIY garden projects, cooking demonstrations, and more. See you on the screen!

Cooking with Farmer Sharon!

Join Farmer Sharon every Saturday morning on our Facebook page for a virtual family-friendly cooking tutorial! These recipes are easy to follow and fun for everyone at home. 

Read More about Online Farm Extension: DIY Videos, Cooking with Farmer Sharon, and more!
What's New on the Farm?

Supporting Our Teachers and Students by Farmer Amy

During the past months of physical distancing from our community, we realize that connecting to that very group has become of paramount importance. We miss the smiles and the joy in discovery, the inquiry and observations, the FUN, and the teaching moments that can only happen on the Farm. We miss you ALL!

Spring is a time full of beauty and growth and boundless energy and activity. While we long to share our farm with visitors on-site, we know that is currently impossible. But that hasn’t kept our farm team down. In support of the BHSD Continuous Learning initiatives, we have created age-appropriate videos that have been shared with pre-K through fifth-grade classes. From an animal storytime to living and nonliving things at the farm, what living things need to survive, to garden preparation and a photosynthesis experiment, the Farm instructional team is partnering with the classroom teachers to support their virtual learning plans.

On Friday, May 15, we had a Zoom meeting with Eastover 2nd graders and staff to check in on the progress of the student-generated design ideas for our future Children’s Discovery Garden at Bowers Farm. Dr. Norm Lownds, the Director of the MSU Children’s Garden was able to join the call and give the students additional inspiration.  It was amazing to get to see these exuberant students share their designs.

We have been thrilled to share the farm with our community and look forward to the day when we will swing open the gates and welcome you back to Bowers Farm.

 

Bowers Garden: Growing Food and Building Community by Farmer Emily

We’ve been hard at work in the Bowers Garden, planting a wide range of fruits and vegetables to feed our community! We feel so lucky to be able to participate in our local food system in this way. 

As we build out the foundation of our garden this season, we remember that we are one small part of an entire ecosystem of growers in this region. Southeast Michigan is saturated with small scale farms, run by farmers who are rooted in community and prioritize regenerative and ecologically sound growing practices. Operations like Keep Growing Detroit, Beaverland Farms, Oakland Avenue Urban Farm, and MSU Tollgate have been some of our greatest teachers so far this season. Every day we are reminded of how grateful we are for community-based agriculture, the local leaders in this field, and the sharing of knowledge and resources that technology in this day and age encourages. If you are looking to start or expand your home gardening efforts, these farms can offer some incredible resources for you!

Looking forward, we have some exciting things on the horizon! As we think ahead to the summer, we will be holding regular farm stand hours for you to come and buy produce and eggs. We will also be hosting regular volunteer hours for those of you who are hoping to come work, learn, and build community with us in the garden! More information about the farm stand and volunteer hours will be available soon! Please check our Facebook page for updates.

 

Did You Know? The Value of Nature by Farmer Amy

In the last eight weeks, our world has shrunk, but there is solidarity in knowing that everyone on the planet is experiencing similar frustrations. So many emotions, fears, longings, loss, anger, and worry are bubbling close to the surface. Uncertainty is at the forefront of many people’s minds. Where do you find comfort and solace? You need look no further than your window!

Nature is one of the few constants we have in our lives, and this has never been more evident than during this pandemic. Every day, the sun will rise and the seasons will march on. We know the importance and value of appreciating nature and the natural world, and we celebrate it every day at Bowers Farm.

Children are born with an innate sense of exploration and wonder! Now is a perfect time to encourage them to experience the great outdoors and embrace their (and your) inner naturalist. Remember, it’s often the littlest things that make huge impacts. Even the youngest children love to experience the sights, scents, sounds, and textures of the outdoors. Nature provides countless opportunities for discovery, creativity, problem-solving, learning, and PLAY! Interacting with nature encourages children to learn by doing. In nature, children wonder, which fosters curiosity. As they take risks, they gain resilience and confidence, skills that will serve them well into adulthood.

When children are encouraged to be outdoors and explore the natural world, they can’t help but become stewards of this beautiful planet we call home.

Want to learn more? Here are some excellent resources for nature based activities and articles on children in nature.

Read More about What's New on the Farm?
Staff Spotlight: Meet Tim Courtney!

Tim Courtney is an invaluable member of our team on the farm! Tim can do anything and everything he sets his mind to, and we are lucky enough to see that each day we spend with him. Tim was the backbone of the Mobile Coop project, and the design, welding, and building of the coop would not have been possible without him. He always has a smile on his face and a positive attitude, and we are so grateful to have him! Thank you, Tim, for all that you do!

Read More about Staff Spotlight: Meet Tim Courtney!
Bowers Academy Senior Spotlight from Dr. Myer

In the last farm newsletter, we introduced our Senior Spotlight series to recognize the hard work and accomplishments of Bowers Seniors! This week, we’d like to congratulate Justin Tobias on all that he has accomplished at Bowers and beyond! Justin is a thoughtful, charismatic, hilarious member of our community, and we are so proud of everything that he has done. Congratulations Justin, and best of luck!

Senior Spotlight: Justin Tobias

Q: What are your future plans?

A: My original future plans were to attend Wayne Law School. Both my uncle and grandpa are lawyers. I was also thinking of taking a year at OCC then transferring to Michigan State to follow in my dad’s footsteps.  He is a builder and went to Michigan State. He has his own construction company and built it from the ground up.  

Q: What is your favorite memory at Bowers?

A: I have a couple of them that I can't say :) One would be betting on the basketball games with Cullen.  

Q: What was it like going to school on a farm?

A: The animals were COOL. I learned a lot about the animals that I did not know. It was a really interesting experience.

Q: What is your advice for underclassmen? 

A: Do NOT procrastinate. I mean, you really do not realize how much time you have left until it is right there in front of you. Don't take high school for granted, we don't even get to finish our senior year at school. Savor every moment, because you never know when it will be gone.

Q: What is your favorite quote?

A: "You never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory..."

Read More about Bowers Academy Senior Spotlight from Dr. Myer

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