Monthly Archives: January 2013

Starting A School Garden

Michigan State University Extension is hosting Starting and Sustaining the School Garden on January 31, 2013 from 8:30 to 4 p.m. at the MSU Tollgate Education Center in Novi.

Teachers, Food Service Directors, Parents and other volunteers can come and find out all of the essentials to growing a successful school garden.  This workshop will work for community and faith-based gardens as well.  Katherine Hale, Extension Educator with Michigan State University Extension, says, “Teachers may want to extend their classroom outdoors but may not feel confident about gardening alone.”   This workshop can help give them the resources and tools to be successful.

Research is demonstrating that students who plant and harvest their own fruits and vegetables are more likely to eat them (Cornell, UC Berkley, UC Davis), and garden-based learning can make a positive impact on children’s academic performance (Klemmer et al. 2005).  Math and science skills are used in gardening along with scientific methods of investigation and experimentation.  Equally important for youth is the lesson on understanding how food gets from seed to table.

Participants will learn,  “how to choose the best site for their garden, how to improve their soil, selecting the best vegetable crops that will mature in spring or fall when school is in session, how to conduct regular garden maintenance, how to incorporate the garden into school curriculum and much more”, states Hale.   Sessions will be taught by MSU Extension Educators and Master Gardeners.

 The workshop is $65 and will run from 8:30-4 p.m.

 To register go to Garden Training    or email: or call 586-469-5180




All About Food Conference Coming Soon!

The Macomb Food Collaborative, in combination with Michigan State University Extension, is hosting its second annual “From Farm to Fork: All About Food” Conference, Thursday, Feb. 14, 9 a.m.  –  4 p.m. at the Macomb Intermediate School District in Clinton Township.


This one-day conference is aimed at anyone who grows, produces, processes, markets, distributes, or eats food. There is something for everyone who loves good food.

“Interest in locally grown food continues to explode in Macomb County,” said Katherine Hale, Macomb Food Collaborative coordinator and MSU Extension Food Systems Educator. “Whether you’re a parent or commercial chef, local pizzeria owner, school cafeteria director, hospital food employee, food blogger, culinary instructor, home vegetable gardener or local farmer, our conference addresses your passions and challenges.”

Bridging relationships between individuals and industry players is another key benefit of the conference. 

“This event brings together growers, vendors, distributers and consumers,” Hale said.  “That’s what we’re all about:  connecting individuals and families to healthy, local food sources and promoting economic opportunity and development.”


In the 2010 PolicyLink publication, Healthy Food Healthy Communities, the authors outline how local communities can improve the health of residents and improve economic opportunities for farmers by taking multiple approaches to provide healthier food access.  The report documents solutions that communities can initiate like improving neighborhoods with healthier food options at corner stores, linking farmers to consumers at farmers markets and community gardens and by offering food access programs like EBT access, WIC and Senior Project Fresh coupons.  All of these efforts will be shared in various sessions at the conference to inform local residents about the opportunities in Macomb County.


The event’s inaugural debut in 2012 drew more than 200 guests.   Once again, Macomb County Executive, Mark Hackel will open the conference with a welcome and remarks.


The Keynote speaker, Mike DiBernardo, Michigan Department of Agriculture, Economic Development, will discuss the impact agriculture and evolving food markets have on the Macomb County economy.


Breakout session topics include:  economic success stories, how-to-start a food-based business, trends and best practices from Detroit’s Eastern Market, the proliferation of community and school gardens, the scoop on food-assistance resources, food hubs and their regional benefit, food safety, the local food/school connection, along with several, inspiring cooking demos.


To register for the event and purchase tickets, which are $15 through Jan. 31 and $20 afterwards, visit A limited number of scholarships are available for the conference.  Contact Katherine Hale at



Hubbard Squash – Good Winter Vegetables

Hubbard Squash – Good Winter Vegetables

I talked a few blogs ago about my food bucket list. I have been compiling my list for quite some time – some items are actually written down to remind me and then there are others that I continue to keep a mental note of. As I get older I definitely need to write more of these down so I remember! Pinterest is helping me remember these now.

I wanted to report that I accomplished another one of those recipes on my bucket list. The Hubbard Squash – it is that huge (big) blue thing that is a squash and a lot of times bigger than most pumpkins. I have seen many people at farmers markets walk right by them because they were intimidated and not sure at all what that blue thing was or the first thing about trying to cook it. You don’t often see these in the grocery stores because they take up so much room and again they don’t get used that much. They really are beautiful inside and out! I have seen quite a few used in outdoor displays during the autumn months. The nice thing is you can store these squash for a couple of months in your garage where it is nice and cold. I did stock up on a few squash this fall and have them stored now for winter use.

So where do you start with this giant of the squash world. Well, you don’t want to use a knife as you are likely to cut off your arm in the process! The easiest and recommended way to cut open a Hubbard Squash is to actually not cut it at all but to DROP it on a hard surface like your garage floor or driveway. I wish I had thought of this earlier (hindsight is always helpful!) but you could put a large sheet on the ground as you drop that bad boy.

The actual process of breaking open the squash to the time to cook it was probably 15 minutes so again, do not let this scare you off.

1- Drop the squash and break it open.
2- Pick up the pieces, scrape off the gravel (really it wasn’t that much) you could use a knife to scrape of the ends so you can really avoid any foreign objects.
3- Scrape out the seeds and guts.
4- Spray or oil your baking sheets or oven dish and you could add some olive oil to the surface of the squash so it doesn’t get dried out.
5- Cover with foil (or not) and bake at 350 degrees for 30 – 60 minutes depending on how large your squash is.
6- Scoop the cooked squash into a bowl with salt and pepper and a little butter. I didn’t even use sweetener of any kind and this was delicious!

Drop that bad boy!

Drop that bad boy!

Clean out the seeds.

Clean out the seeds.

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The beautiful Hubbard Squash

The beautiful Hubbard Squash