Saturday, November 28, 2009

Adopt-a-Tree from Friends of the Wagbo Sugarbush

Adopt a Sugar Maple tree for one year! A rewarding and educational christmas gift for friends and family, and a great learning experience for classrooms. As each tree's "foster parents," you first get sent a print-out including a color photo of your individual tree, a place to write the tree's name of your choice, and interesting facts about our "sugarbush"-- perfect for framing. Once the Sugarin' Season rolls around come March, you will receive a folder packed full of educational activities, and facts and folklore for children and adults alike, thus taking part in the adventures of Maple Sugaring. You will also receive weekly updates on your tree's sap flow, the syrup production, and the progress of our all-volunteer run operation. You can also schedule "Meet your Tree" days where you can come out and take a free tour of our sugarbush, be introduced to your tree, view our sap evaporator in operation and sample fresh Maple Syrup. And if that's not enough, at the end of the season for each tree you adopt you will receive a quart of our delicious 100% pure wood-fired Michigan Maple Syrup in decorated jugs!

One Year Tree Adoption: $50 per tree

Second Friday Potluck: Feast and Film

Our regular “first” Friday potluck will be held on the second Friday of December. “Feast And Film: a Wild Game and Local Foods Potluck and Film Showing” will take place December 11th at 6:00 pm at the Martha Wagbo Farm. A dish to pass is always welcome, but never required, so don’t feel overly obligated to bring one! The focus for this potluck is Wild Game and Wild Food, so if you have some dried morels, chanterelles, frozen Juneberries, pickled Leeks, etc; a dish of those would all be great for our vegetarian friends. Local Food is the fall-back in case people cannot obtain wild foods. For those of you who have access to Wild Game, but need recipes, call 231-536-0333 or email us at the Wagbo Farm for suggestions. We have delicious recipes on everything from Possum to Porcupine, Deer heart to Beaver tail, Squirrel to Salmon!

The Film will start at 7:30 with a screening of the documentary “Diet of Souls” – a movie exploring the intimate relationship between the Inuit, their arctic environment and the Animals they must hunt to survive. A powerful look at the sacred art of the Hunt, this film blurs the borders between Animal and Human, and by listening to the stories of Inuit Elders it preserves an important world-view of these Traditional People. (Not Rated. Some Subtitles.)

Hope to see you there!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Apple Pressing Correction!

The last e-musings said that Wagbo is seeking a $5 donation per gallon of apple cider. This is incorrect--we're actually looking for a donation of $5 per family! (Makes quite a difference, huh?)

We also thought it would be helpful to mention the approximate apple to cider ratio. On average, it takes about one bushel of apples to make 2 gallons of apple cider. This will help you determine about how many apples to bring, as well as how many containers to bring. The other information pertaining to apple pressing is correct.

Also, please don't bring apples that have been laying on the ground, as they accumulate dirt and bacteria. If you shake the tree and pick them up, that's okay. (As long as they don't land in deer poop!)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Wagbo Farm Through the Seasons

While our frosts are getting harder and flocks of migrating birds are heading south, the colors of autumn are getting more intense by the minute. There are few places in Northwest Michigan where this is more dramatic than the Jordan River Valley. Wagbo is fortunate to have some of the best eastern views of the valley – its lowland scarlet Red Maples, rolling golds of Beech-Sugar Maple forests, deep green of sentinel White Pines and the dark oaken mound of Mt. Bliss looming on the horizon. Hiking the Wagbo property is especially rewarding this time of year when it is cool enough to not worry about overheating and yet warm enough for leisurely picnics.

A wonderful time for bird-watching, one passer-through that is common in the fields near the barn at the moment is the White-Crowned Sparrow. These handsome, not-so-shy little birds are visiting Wagbo as a convenient rest-stop on their great journey from the tundra to as far south as central Mexico. Come out and see them while they’re still here! There’s no need for registration, trail fee or even a ‘heads-up’: our trails are always open to visitors.Red-Tailed Hawks and the occasional Northern Harrier have been visiting lately, hunting the fields and a Bobcat was recently spotted near the campground. Almost nightly, once the stars begin to awake, a chaotic symphony of Coyotes can be heard joyously celebrating something known only to them, and the mournful call of the Barred Owl can be heard to the south. As November rolls around we expect to see more Porcupines as they search for mates. This is the best and easiest time to see these normally inconspicuous animals and catch them in the act of their dramatic courtship displays! All in all, this is a great time to get out and visit the Wagbo Farm and there is always something interesting happening here beyond the programming. You just have to look for yourself…

First Friday Potluck

Join us at the Wagbo farmhouse for food, fun, and good company. Next month's First Friday Potluck will be held on November 6th. Dinner starts at 6 pm. Bring a dish to pass if you can; but feel free to join us with or without one. Drinks and table service are provided by Wagbo.

Then stick around after dinner for the program. At 7:00 PM Ellen Addinton will present Making Peace in a Hostile World- A view of indigenous peoples search for peace in Columbia and Venezuela. Ellen, a resident of Ellsworth, MI and long time peace activist has travelled and worked extensively in a number of Central American countries. Much of her work has focused on the struggles of women in the Central American peace effort. Don't miss this amazing presentation!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Press Your Apples!

Got Apples? Come to the Martha Wagbo Farm and Education Center in East Jordan on Sunday, November 1st, 1:00 to 4:00 PM to press them into delicious Cider! Bring your own apples to grind and press. Bring your own jugs to fill for a suggested donation of $5 per family. Community Apple Pressing has been a rural tradition for centuries. Keep this family-fun autumn pastime alive and well in Northern Michigan!

Wagbo will provide an apple grinder and press for all your cider needs! We hope to rent a large, electric grinder and manual press from a local orchard. If this doesn't work out, however, there will still be a manual grinder and press supplied. If you haven't tried apple cidering, come out and share the experience! You'll never have such delicious cider as your own fresh-pressed stuff.

The Wagbo Farm is located 3 miles south of East Jordan at 5745 N. M66. 1-4pm. Call 231-536-0333 for more details.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fungi and Fermentation

Fungi and Fermentation was a great success! Despite the cold and rain, approximately 60 people showed up to the skill swap--all in good spirits and excited to learn. Here's the front yard all packed full of cars:There were so many different classes offered that day, that it isn't possible to fit pictures of them all on this entry. But here are some highlights:

This is Julie Hurd showing off her samples of wool yarn dyed with wildharvested mushrooms. Her knowledge of this subject was very impressive, and the colors the mushrooms created were beautiful! It was great to see all the wonderful dyes that can be created from fungi growing right in your backyard.

Amanda Kik teaching cheesemaking. You had to really squeeze in to get a good look at this one! In this class, Amanda taught everyone how to make queso blanco, also called vinegar cheese. It's a fairly simple process, but the outcome is delicious. Everyone was inspired to go home and make some of their own!

Here is Mark Meier teaching sauerkraut preparation. His methods were quite impressive, as he brought his own hand-made shredder to and wooden stomper to process the cabbage! He also brought along some samples of vegetables he'd fermented. The delicious taste is enough to inspire anyone to ferment their own veggies.

Another happy participant! How can you be sad with all the delicious wine, beer, mead, cider, and fermented foods to sample? Thanks so much to all the instructors for making this event possible! Also thanks to ISLAND, all our wonderful volunteers, and the following sponsor:

with support from the following: Krios Consulting, Higher Grounds Coffee, Lubrecht and Cramer Ltd., Field and Forest Products, Pleasanton Bakery, Tandem Ciders, Right Brain Brewery, Leelanau Cultured Veggies, Black Star Farms, Frasure Farms, Sunra Farms, Shetler Dairy, Turtle Kitchen, Morel Mania, FUNGI Magazine and Mushroom the Journal.

To see more pictures, please visit ISLAND's Facebook page or Wagbo's Shutterfly account.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

First Friday Potluck

Join us at the Wagbo farmhouse for food, fun, and good company. Next month's First Friday Potluck will be held on October 2nd. Dinner starts at 6 pm. Bring a dish to pass if you can; but feel free to join us with or without one. Drinks and table service are provided by Wagbo.

Then stick around after dinner and help us prepare for the Fungi and Fermentation Skill Swap! Volunteers will receive free or reduced admission to the event, depending on how much they volunteer. Call Maria for more details at 231-536-0333.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fungi and Fermentation Skill Swap

Join the Institute for Sustainable Living, Art, and Natural Design (ISLAND) and the Martha Wagbo Farm and Education Center as we explore the wide world of fungi and fermentations. Anyone with an interest in local foods; wild-crafting; food preservation; or tasty, healthful meals will greatly benefit from the workshops offered here. Experienced teachers will present an array of topics, including wild mushroom hikes, mushroom dyeing, mushroom paper, cheese making, vegetable fermentations, mead making, and much more! There will also be local vendors selling fungal and fermented goods. The skill swap is taking place Sunday, October 4th from 1 pm to 5 pm. It will be held at the Wagbo Farm, located three miles south of East Jordan at 5745 North M-66. Cost is $20 for pre-registration by Friday, September 25th or $25 at the door. For a complete list of workshops and vendors, or to register, call Yvonne at 231 480 4515 or email

  • Mushroom cultivation with Jim Ruster of Mitchell Hill Farm
  • Paper-making with polypores taught by Franny Bluhm
  • Fall mushroom hunting led by Michigan Mushroom Hunter's Club Vice President Jim Provci
  • Dyeing wool with mushrooms taught by fiber artist Julie Hurd of the Lake Charlevoix Weavers Guild
  • Cheese making taught by Amanda Kik of ISLAND
  • Sauerkraut preparation by Mark Maier
  • Composting with Mike and Monika Fiebing of Bella Terra Farms
  • Kombucha with Pepper Bromelmeir
  • Mead making with Nels Veliquette, beekeeper and fourth generation farmer in Northern MI
  • Wine making with Brian Hosmer
  • Live ginger beer and kefir with Nirinjan Singh and Kimberly Dante of Anahata Balance
  • Whole Grain Home Brew with Jerome Grskovic, BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) beer judge

Sponsored by Eden Foods, and support from the following: Field and Forest Products, and Pleasanton Bakery, Tandem Ciders, Leelanau Cultured Veggies, Black Star Farms, Mushroom the Journal.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Art of Tracking

The Tracking Workshop held on August 29th and 30th in collaboration with ISLAND was a great success! We reached a full registration of 15 enthusiastic students, plus the tracker and several volunteers. Paul Raphael, a tracker from Leelanau County, and Intern Maria Wesserle led the activities. Saturday started out rather dreary and rainy, but everyone became inpsired to learn by Paul's talk about tracking and bird language. Then we went out in the field to engage in some exercises.


Here's a picture of folks walking along the "Unnature Trail"--trying to find human-made objects hidden near the rope.

In the evening, folks headed inside to learn more about animal tracks.


Everyone picked a picture of an animal track that they couldn't identify. Then, using taking clues from the foot morphology, (does it have claws, long fingers, webbed toes, etc.) the students tried to imagine a 24-hour period of life for their animal. People seemed rather confused during this activity, but actually everyone ended up with a description really close to the actual animal!

The next day was dedicated to learning about animal sign and bird language in the field.


Here are Chris and Maria practicing animal forms--in this case they were emulating the walk of a raccoon. This exercise was designed to help people empathize with the animals they're tracking. Understanding (and feeling!) the way an animal moves is as important to tracking as understanding what its feet look like.

The rest of the day was spent studying animal tracks and trails.


This picture shows Art and Oren looking for deer tracks and marking them with colored popsicle sticks. The ones in the sandy road were usually easy to find, but once the deer moved into the forest, finding tracks was much more challenging!

This event was loads of fun, and hopefully there will be more of its kind in the near future. However, event couldn't have happened without the dedicated volunteers and generous sponsors. Please show the following businesses your support, and thank them for sponsoring community events in northern Michigan!

Oryana Natural Foods Market

Bellaire Smokehouse

Grain Train Natural Foods

Turtle Kitchen

Providence Farm and CSA

Valley Graphics Printing Company

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fun Fermentations at the First Friday Potluck

Join us at the Wagbo farmhouse for food, fun, and good company. Next month's First Friday Potluck will be held on August 7th. Dinner starts at 6 pm. Bring a dish to pass if you can; but feel free to join us with or without one. Drinks and table service are provided by Wagbo.

Then stick around after dinner for the fermentation program. Learn how easy, enjoyable, and healthy fermented foods can be! Intern Maria Wesserle will demonstrate vegetable fermentation, kombucha, yogurt cheese, and vinegar cheese. She will also have these delicious foods available for sampling. Fermentation guides will be on-hand for your perusal.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Beehive Basics

Wednesday August 5th — Beehive Basics from 5 to 7 pm, on ISLAND's property, in Bellaire. Suggested donation of $10.

Workshop on beekeeping basics and preparing for your first hive(s) next spring. We will cover what items and tools you need to get a hive started, as well as the ideal location for a hive. Plants that encourage the health of a hive will also be discussed, and we will visit an active hive. Guest beekeeper will be Jay DeKorne. There will also be a raffle of some beekeeping items, including a bee "nuc" valued at $100! You'll also take home lots of literature.

You may register in advance by calling or emailing Yvonne at ISLAND 231-480-4515 or

Tracking Workshop

The Art of Tracking
When: Saturday, August 29th to Sunday, August 30th
Time: Saturday-- Check-in starts at 1 pm; Classes go from 2 pm to 9pm
Sunday-- Breakfast starts at 8 am. Classes go from 9 am to 5 pm
Cost: $30 for 3 meals and camping, $25 for 2 meals without camping (breakfast excluded.)
Registration is limited! Reserve a space today!

The Institute for Sustainable Living, Art, and Natural Design, (ISLAND) and the Martha Wagbo Farm and Education Center are partnering to bring you a valuable resource in outdoor education—tracking knowledge. If you are a hunter, a wildlife researcher, a nature photographer, or if you have an interest in primitive skills or the animal world, then this workshop is for you. The Art of Tracking will be held at the Wagbo Farm just south of East Jordan at 5745 North M-66. Activities will be lead by Paul Raphael, an experienced tracker who has worked with celebrated outdoorsmen such as Jon Young and Paul Rezendes, and has taught tracking classes across the United States at renown outdoors schools such as the Wilderness Awareness School in Washington and the Institute of Natural Learning in Maine. He has even travelled oversees to Europe to teach this valued skill.

At The Art of Tracking, you will learn how to fully engage your senses so that animal trails and sign can be readily observed, how to understand the meanings of bird calls, and how to interpret animal behavior through tracks and gaits. The first day will focus on sense awareness and tracking exercises, and the second day will center on interpreting animal signs and bird language in the field. Snacks, drinks, and three meals (dinner Saturday, breakfast and lunch Sunday) are included. Overnight camping is available at the Wagbo Farm—please call Wagbo at 231-536-0333 or email for more details.

• 1 pm—Check in, Set up tents, Orientation
• 2pm to 6 pm—Sense Awareness Exercises, Becoming Familiar with Tracks
• 6 pm to 7 pm—Dinner
• 7 pm to 9 pm—Tracking and Trailing Exercises
• 9 pm onwards—Bonfire and Storytelling (Optional)
• 8 am to 9 am—Breakfast
• 9 am to 12 pm—Tracking and Bird Language in the field
• 12 pm to 1 pm—Lunch
• 1 pm to 5 pm—Tracking and Bird Language in the field

This event is limited to just 15 participants, so please register by Monday, August 24th by following this link or calling ISLAND Directors Brad and Amanda Kik at 231-480-4515. Supervised older children are welcome. Please note that your registration is not complete until we have received your payment.

For further general information, contact Intern Maria Wesserle at 231-536-0333.

Monday, June 29, 2009

First Friday Potluck!

Date: Friday, July 3
Time: Potluck starts at 6 pm
Program begins at 7 pm

Join us at the Martha Wagbo Farm and Education Center for our First Friday Potluck! Meet in the farmhouse for delicious food and good company. Bring a dish to pass; but feel free to come with a dish or without! Beverages and table service are provided.

Carl Eklund, forester with Fahl Forest Products, plans to give a presentation on sustainable timber management and lead a tour of the recently harvested 40 acre stand of northern mixed hardwoods at the Martha Wagbo Farm and Education Center. Prior to the harvest, Carl marked approximately 6-7 trees per acre for removal based first on poor form, damage and overcrowding and lastly economically mature trees. If time allows, we can also look at a 50 acre hardwood stand that is in need of a TSI (Timber Stand Improvement). This cut is scheduled to begin in August and will be done to improve the stand by removing deformed, damaged and diseased trees to release the higher quality stems in the stand.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

First Friday Potluck

Date: Friday, June 5th
Time: Potluck starts at 6 pm
Program begins at 7 pm
Join us at the Martha Wagbo Farm and Education Center for our First Friday Potluck! Meet in the farmhouse for delicious food and good company. Bring a dish to pass; but feel free to come with a dish or without! Beverages and table service are provided.
Want to learn how to grow your own gourmet mushrooms? Then stick around for the after-dinner program! Char-Em ISD AmeriCorps volunteer Yvonne Stephens and her husband Jason have successfully grown shiitake mushrooms and want to share what they know. They will be demonstrating how to inoculate logs with shiitake sawdust spawn. They will also have information available about where to purchase supplies.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Fiber Arts Skill Swap

Well, the Fiber Arts Skill Swap that we held on May 16th in collaboration with ISLAND was a great success! Despite the cold, dreary weather, everyone showed up in good spirits and made the most out of the day. It started out with shearing, during which Zack Schaltz of Schaltz farm demonstrated shearing on two sheep using an electric shearer.

Here's one of the sheep after she had her coat taken off! She didn't seem terribly happy about being exposed in this way, but I think she got over her shyness pretty quickly.

Next was the dyeing workshop, in which Wagbo intern Maria Wesserle demonstrated natural and chemical dyeing.

Here's her little table of props to show off, including naturally dyed fiber and hand carders. I think everyone was excited to find the wide range of colors that can be dyed with plants, and inspired by the ease with which chemical dyeing takes place.

Next came spinning, also taught by Maria. Here are some participants trying out their drop spindles with some nice shetland wool. Spinning is a tricky art to learn, and probably most of the folks in that class would agree! However, they did excellent for beginners, and as some of them brought spindles and fiber home, I hope they were inspired to keep practicing!

The final class was felting, taught by Michelle Ferrarese. She taught everyone how to make felted place mats or oven mitts, and showed how to incorporate neat designs into the felt piece. The outcomes were very beautiful and nicely designed! Plus, there was enough wool left over for people to take some home and continue experimenting.

Finally, a big huge Thank You to everyone who helped make this event a success. This includes the folks at ISLAND (thanks to Amanda for the pictures, by the way!) and Stonehedge Fiber Mill located right outside of East Jordan. Stonehedge graciously donated the wool used for both the spinning and felting workshops. We couldn't have done it without you!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Weekend Event Wrap-Up

First off, a big "Thank You!" to everyone who came out to our weekend hikes! Luckily the weather was beautiful, and we were all able to enjoy an educational stroll through the woods. The fact that we were searching for delicious wild edibles made it even more fun! The weekend started out Friday, with the potluck and wild edible hike.

Wild Edibles Walk

Here is Wagbo intern Maria Wesserle teaching participants about the ediblity of various field-growing plants. There was tons to learn, and everyone agreed that they wouldn't remember half of it, but at least they were inspired to dig around in their own backyards for tasty veggies!

On Sunday, Yvonne Stephens lead the morel mushroom hike. It started out rather pessimistically, with people not expecting to find much. But then...

Morel Hike

What's that over there?


Morels! They really are here! Everyone was able to leave with their own hand-harvested morels! Plus, Yvonne and Jason brought some of their own stash to snack on, as well as delectable shiitake-infused goat cheese. Yum! Thanks for the treats, guys!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Wildflower Hikes Update

Important Change!
The wildflower hikes that were scheduled for Saturdays in May are shifting their focus to that gourmet vegetable, the wild leek, also known as "ramps." We will take a hike through Wagbo's scenic beech-maple forest and learn a bit about the wildflower's importance in the community. Then we'll get down and dirty unearthing these delectable additions to our northern Michigan table fare. Following the harvest and wildflower walk will be Ramps Pickling in Wagbo's outdoor kitchen. Everyone will leave with their own half pint of pickled ramps! Or, if you'd rather not pay the five dollars, you can participate in the hike and watch the process, but not make any for yourself.
Please register by calling 231-536-0333 or email
Cost: $5 per person
Date and Time: Every Saturday, May 9th to June 6th, 2-4:30 pm

Monday, May 4, 2009

Fiber Arts Skill Share

Date and Time: Saturday, May 16th, 1:00 pm to 5:30 pm
Cost: $20 per person for the whole day
Space is limited! Please register by Wednesday, May 13th.

The Institute for Sustainable Living, Art, and Natural Design (ISLAND) and the Martha Wagbo Farm and Education Center are teaming up to bring you this exciting fiber arts field day! If you enjoy working with wool, if you've ever thought about raising your own sheep for wool, or if you’re just curious about how wool is taken off the sheep and transformed into textiles, then this event is for you. Experienced instructors will take you through the process from raw wool to finished product. Four approximately one-hour workshops/ demos will teach shearing; skirting, cleaning, and carding the wool; natural and chemical dyeing techniques; spinning yarn on a drop spindle; and felting. One price covers all workshops as well as snacks and refreshments. Everyone will go home with their own hand-made yarn and felted piece!

1:00 pm
Shearing, Skirting, and Cleaning: So you have the sheep... now how do you get the wool off of her? Zack Shaltz of Shaltz Farm will demonstrate how to accomplish that using both hand shears and electrical shears. The tags and vegetable matter will then be pulled off, and skirting will be demonstrated. We will also talk about different ways to clean the fleece once it's taken off.

2:10 pm
Dyeing Wool: Wagbo intern Maria Wesserle will show you how to take washed, undyed wool and transform it into a colorful work of art! She will demonstrate natural dyeing with madder root, and acid dyeing using food coloring. (Don't worry--the 'acid' mentioned here is only vinegar!) Learn everything you need to know to dye your own fiber at home. Also, carding will be demonstrated during this workshop, and we will have a couple hand carders available for folks to try out.

3:20 pm and 4:30 pm
Spinning Wool and Felting: At this point we will split into two groups to make teaching more manageable for the instructors. One group will start out with spinning at 3:20, the other will start felting, and then the groups will switch at 4:30 so that everyone gets a turn! The participants will get hands-on in these two workshops and go home with their own hand-made yarn and felted piece! Michelle Ferrarese will be teaching the felting workshop, in which students will choose from colorful merino roving to create their own felted article. Yarn, wool, and textile scraps will also be available to work into the piece. Maria Wesserle will teach spinning. Everyone will receive 2 ounces of wool to make their own yarn on a drop spindle. Spindles are often considered a 'primitive' device, but they have gained popularity due to their simple design, portable nature, and ability to create fantastic yarn in a surprisingly timely manner.

The event will be held at the Martha Wagbo Farm and Education Center, 5745 North M-66—at the intersection with Kidder Rd. just three miles south of East Jordan! For more information or to register, please go to; email; or call ISLAND at 231-480-4515. You can contact Wagbo at 231-536-0333 or

First (or second!) Friday Potluck

Date:Friday, May 8th
Time:Potluck starts at 6 pm
Program begins at 7 pm

Join us at the Martha Wagbo Farm and Education Center for our First Friday (or second Friday in this case!) Potluck! Meet in the farmhouse for delicious food and good company. Bring a dish to pass; but feel free to come with a dish or without! Beverages and table service are provided.

After dinner, stick around for a "Wild Edibles Hike" through Wagbo's scenic 212-acre property. 'Tis the season for wild leeks, trout lily, spring beauty, and other delectable greens. Learn how to identify these wild goodies and go home with simple recipes that you can make at home. These spring ephermerals don't stick around long - let's enjoy them while they're here. Come rain or shine!

Mother's Day Morel Hunt!

Join Wagbo volunteer and fungus enthusiast Yvonne Stevens for a Morel walk on Sunday, May 10. Meet for the morning session at 10:00. We'll return to the farmhouse by about noon to take a break for lunch and ID our mushroom bounty! An afternoon session will meet at 1:00, for another hike and more mushroom ID. The day will end at around 4:00. Come for one or both sessions! If possible and there is interest, we will saute some mushrooms for people to sample.

Things to bring along: a small knife, basket or mesh bag, compass, insect repellent, sturdy boots or shoes, long pants, rain gear, water or juice and a sack lunch or snack.

This program is free! Pre-registration is encouraged but not necessary. Contact Wagbo at 231-536-0333 or for more information.

Wildflower Hikes

*Dates: Every Saturday from May 9th -30th
*Time: 2-4pm
*Cost: Free!
April showers bring which flowers? And why are they important members of our natural community? What secrets do they hold and what do they have to teach us? Join us in the Jordan River Valley as we explore the forest, listen to bird songs and search for these facinatingly beautiful wildflowers and hear the stories they have to tell. Register today by calling the Martha Wagbo Farm and Education Center at 231-536-0333 or email

Nature Observation and Tracking Club

Wagbo's own resident interns, Maria and Fischer, are looking to start a club focused on interpreting tracks and sign left by local animals. This will not be limited to looking at prints in the mud or scratches on bark, but will include a broad range of nature observation skills including bird language, animal behavior, plant and tree identification, and weather observation. Ecological life cycles must be included in the matrix of tracking, or the tracker will be very limited in her or his interpration of prints and trails. This club will be less teaching-oriented, and more focused on learning together in a non-competitive environment. If you are interested, please call Wagbo at 231-536-0333, or email are hoping to set up a schedule where everyone can meet once or twice a month at Wagbo, and possibly carpool from there to more sandy locations.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Woodcock Walks

Date: Every Sunday and Wednesday Evening, April 5th to the 30th
Time: 8pm to 9pm
Cost: Free!

Register today for an evening viewing the spectacularly dramatic courtship display of these amazing birds. Find out why they are nicknamed the "Little Brown Ghost" as we sneak through forest and field to experience our local harbingers of spring. Great for individuals, couples, and families!

To register, call us at 231-536-0333, or email

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

First Friday Potluck!

The Wagbo Peace Center is continuing its monthly tradition of first Friday potlucks, which this month happens to fall on April 3rd. Come out at 6 pm to start the delicious meal and enjoy good company in the Wagbo Farmhouse. Bring a dish to pass, if you can. Then, starting at 7 pm, there will be an interpretive nature hike led by interns Fischer and Maria. Spring really is here- you can see it in the drip of the sap, the wildflowers that are slowly awakening, and the new birds that fly in everyday from their southerly winter homes. Let's go for a hike together to discover these harbingers of spring!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Maple Syrup Festival

7th Annual Maple Syrup Festival!

Come out Saturday, March 28th to enjoy Wagbo's own celebration of that wonderful food- maple syrup! There will be pancake breakfast served all day with locally produced sausage and bacon, and maple syrup of course! We will be giving tours of the sugar shack where the syrup is made, and the sugar bush where the sap is collected from the maple trees. Fun family activities will be available all day, including maple-themed games, a petting zoo, boiling demonstrations and syrup tasting, live music, and much more! There will also be raffle drawings to win maple syrup gift baskets. Plus, new this year is the crowning of a maple prince and princess! To win this position, your child must write an essay explaining why they love maple syrup and the sugaring season. Call us for more details.

Cost is $10 per adult, $5 per child, and $28 per family. Kids 3 and under are free. This includes all activities, food, and a raffle ticket!

Friday, February 27, 2009

See us on TV!

If you'd like to learn a little bit more about our sugaring process and how it all works, then be sure to tune into the 9/10 news on Monday, March 2 from 6:15 am to 8:45 am. They will be showing a series of 6 short segments that highlight our sugaring operation and upcoming events. Included is a segment on how to tap a tree at home, how we do it in our commercial operation, a tour of our gravity lines and sugar shack, and a short exploration into maple treats and sweets! Later in the afternoon they will also air a short interview about the upcoming weekend events. It's sure to get your interest piqued in what we do here!

Event Cancelled

Our Saturday, February 28th event, Maple Folklore and Traditions is canceled due to low registration. However, we will have a sugar bush work day instead, so if you're still interested in learning about the sugaring process, you can come volunteer with us--there will be plenty to learn! We will probably focus on the sugar shack and get it cleaned up and ready to go for the evaporator training on Saturday, March 7th.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Celebrating Maple Syrup

Spring is fast approaching and with it, Maple syrup makers across the state are preparing for their busy season and annual labor of love. Soon the trees will be tapped, the sap will be flowing, and steam will be rising from stoves and evaporators as syrup is produced from the sap of the Sugar Maple tree. Just in time, the Friends of the Wagbo Sugar Bush is welcoming families to a series of weekend events to celebrate and learn about this awesome tree of the north and the agri-cultural heritage of “Maple Sugaring.”

The Friends of the Wagbo Sugar bush (FWSB) is an all volunteer-run program of the nonprofit Wagbo Peace Center that produces Maple syrup at the Wagbo farm. Proceeds from syrup sales and related programming allow the FWSB group to continue to operate the 1700-tap operation at Wagbo. The local community and out-of town visitors, young and old, can come to the Wagbo farm and share in this unique and important part of northern Michigan ’s history and economy. The FWSB offers hands-on activities and demonstrations through various programming opportunities for school children, adults and families so that everyone can join in on the fun!

The Friends of the Wagbo Sugar Bush provides training for new members. There are a wide variety of ways to volunteer – from making syrup and marketing to programming and pancake flipping – and opportunities to earn syrup. It is a great family activity! Tom Brown, long-time volunteer from Central Lake , had this to say about bringing out the whole gang to help in the sugar bush, “Put your snowshoes to good use! It gives the kids a chance to develop their whole body, not just their thumbs!”

Starting February 28th, the FWSB has a month-long celebration planned with a variety of programming for families, including interpretive hikes and workshops, leading up to our Annual Maple Syrup Festival. Three different weeks of snowshoe hikes will lead participants out to the Wagbo sugar bush, where we will tap trees and explore Maple themes and topics. (Bring your own snowshoes, or rent them for $5.) This one-mile venture overlooking the beautiful Jordan River Valley will lead us back to the Wagbo farmstead for boiling demonstrations and good Maple eats! Concurrent fun and educational activities are available for younger children, including petting the barnyard animals, and Maple-themed games and activities.

A workshop dedicated to making sap into syrup will teach participants the critical steps to making a delicious product on a larger scale in the Wagbo Sugar Shack. And once the sap starts flowing, our Sugar Shack is open to the public any time – just watch for the sign out front and the steam rising from the stacks (or give us a call to check on our syrup boiling schedule). The last Saturday in March, our Annual Maple Syrup Festival boasts a local food pancake breakfast, sleigh rides, music and a whole day of fun and games for the whole family.

If you are interested in exploring the trails with skis instead of snowshoes, Lou Awodey of Aspen Grove X-C Center at the Wagbo Peace Center is offering interpretive and nature cross-country ski tours of the Wagbo Sugar Bush and surroundings (concurrent with hikes, see dates and times below). Tours are $10 (cost of trail pass) and Lou has skis available to rent as well (special price, $5).

Consider a “silent sport” multi-adventure in the Jordan River Valley – and on the river itself! – by booking a snowshoe or ski tour paired with a guided rafting trip with Jordan Valley Outfitters! It’s a great way to celebrate this harbinger of spring and take advantage of the eco-tourism opportunities available here in the pristine Jordan Valley !

Our program schedule is listed below. If you want to schedule your group for a field trip, call or email: (231)536-0333,!

Saturday, February 28th, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Sugaring Folklore and Tradition

Maple trees played a vital role in the lives of northeastern Native Americans and early settlers. They not only gave nourishing food after a long winter, but provided a pleasurable pastime as families came together in the sugar bush to tap trees and boil sap. Come learn the ways that Maple syrup was made before the days of tubing systems, vacuum pumps, and stainless steel equipment; and hear the folklore that surrounds this fascinating tree.

We’ll take a one-mile interpretive hike (on snowshoes) out to the Wagbo sugar bush, so come dressed for the weather! Everyone will get a chance to “tap a tree” and take home a “spile” for collecting sap from a Maple at home. Join us afterwards for a light meal including Maple-glazed ham, roasted nuts and brown rice pudding.

Concurrent children’s programming includes Maple-themed games and activities and tasting Maple syrup. We’ll stay outside as much as possible.

Cost $8 for adults, $5 for children, and $20 for a family. Work-trade is available. Snowshoe rental $5.

Please register by Wednesday, February 25th.

Saturday, March 7th, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Bring it to a Boil: Evaporator Training

If you’ve ever been curious about how a commercial sugaring operation is run, or have an interest in running your own large-scale operation, then this event is a must. Those interested in helping boil for the FWSB are encouraged to attend. Past Wagbo sugaring manager Ryan Romeyn will demonstrate on our own 5’x16’ wood-fired evaporator. Soup, Maple tea, coffee, and baked goods will be served. Please note: We do not have concurrent children’s activities planned for this event.

Cost is $8. Work-trade is available.

Please register by Wednesday, March 4th.

Saturday, March 14th, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Maple Ecology

Did you know that the sap of the Sugar Maple is loaded with vitamins and minerals such as calcium, zinc, and iron? How about that squirrels will “tap” the trees to drink the sweet sap? Can you name what plants are often found growing under the Maple tree? Learn interesting and fun facts about the famed sugar Maple in its native habitat.

We’ll take a one-mile interpretive hike (on snowshoes) out to the Wagbo sugar bush so come dressed to be outside! Everyone will get a chance to “tap a tree” and take home a “spile” for collecting sap from a Maple at home. Afterwards a light meal including baked beans, cornbread, and Maple cookies will be served.

Concurrent children’s programming includes Maple-themed games and activities and tasting Maple syrup. We’ll stay outside as much as possible.

Cost $8 for adults, $5 for children, and $20 for a family. Work-trade is available. Snowshoe rental $5.

Please register by Wednesday, March 11th.

Saturday, March 21st, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Making Maple Syrup

Most everyone in the northwoods is familiar with the Maple tree and its sweet product, but not many make it themselves. Join us on an interpretive snowshoe hike (approximately one mile) out to the sugar bush to learn various ways that you can collect sap at home. Then we’ll return the farmstead to experience making syrup using small-scale techniques. We will also give a tour of our own 1,700-tap operation. Please dress for the weather as we will be outside for the entire program.

Everyone will get a chance to “tap a tree” and take home a “spile” for collecting sap from a Maple at home. Snack on tea, hot cocoa, baked goods and other Maple sweets afterwards.

Concurrent children’s programming includes Maple-themed games and activities and tasting Maple syrup. We’ll stay outside as much as possible.

Cost $8 for adults, $5 for children, and $20 for a family. Work-trade is available. Snowshoe rental $5.

Please register by Wednesday, March 18th.

Saturday, March 28th, 10am to 3 pm

7th Annual Maple Syrup Festival

Our annual family event to celebrate Maple syrup! Pancake breakfast served all day with real Wagbo Maple syrup and locally-produced sausage and bacon. Music, sleigh rides out to the sugar bush, syrup tasting, “pancake” flipping contests and more – plus view Maple syrup being made in our Sugar Shack! All food and activities are included for one price!

Cost $10 for adults, $5 for children, and $28 for a family, 3 and under are free. (Tickets available at the door.)

Registration Information

Call or email for programming details, to register, for information on booking your group, or joining the Friends of the Wagbo Sugar Bush – (231)536-0333, Or visit

You can reach Lou at Aspen Grove Cross Country Center at (231) 536-9860 or; and Kay Harper at Jordan Valley Outfitters at (231)536-0006 or

The Wagbo Peace Center is located at 5745 North M-66, three miles south of East Jordan and just north of Kidder Rd.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Natural History Walk

Interested in animal tracks and signs, winter tree identification, traditional uses of plants, or natural history? Join us at the Cosner Nature Preserve on Saturday, February 7th at 9:00a.m., right across the street from the Wagbo Peace Center. (Park and meet at the Wagbo.)

Bring your snowshoes for a gorgeous naturalist-led hike through pine forest and cedar swamp. The talk will focus on the recent natural history of Cosner Nature Preserve- what the area probably looked like pre-European invasion, what plants and animals were found there, and what has changed between then and now. Afterwards, stay for a warm-up and reception at the Wagbo homestead and enjoy hot soup, cocoa, and baked goods. Then, stick around for sledding, skiing at Aspen Grove (right here at Wagbo!), or a tour through Wagbo's volunteer-run syruping operations.

The Wagbo Peace Center is partnering with the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy to bring you this free and informative event. Please visit GTRLC's website to register.

Calling all Volunteers!

-Photo Preservation-
The Wagbo Peace Center is looking for individuals interested in helping us organize and archive our old photos and paraphernalia. Wagbo is steeped in a rich history that needs preserving for future generations. We desire an organized person(s) to go through our stored materials and scan them into the computer for digital safekeeping, and organize the hard copies into albums or scrapbooks. Call 231-536-0333 or email if you're interested.

Do you enjoy graphic design? Consider helping Wagbo develop an up-to-date website! Call 231-536-0333 or email if you're interested.

-Maple Syrup Activities-
If you enjoy the outdoors, working with a great group of dedicated people or participating in northern Michigan's cultural heritage, then come join the Friends of the Wagbo Sugar Bush in preparing for the 2009 Maple syruping season!

Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday pre-season workdays have begun (usually late morning to late afternoon - contact us for scheduling details). From tubing system repairs to tree tapping, boiling and bottling to our Annual Maple Syrup Festival preparations, there's always lots of ways to pitch in AND earn syrup while you're at it! The season typically runs through mid-April.

The Friends of the Wagbo Sugar Bush is an all-volunteer run group whose mission is fun and educational, while preserving an agricultural traditon. Call Wagbo at 231-536-0333, or email

First Friday Potluck

You are invited to another round of our monthly First Friday Potluck at the Wagbo Peace Center! This month, the activities start pre-potluck with half price trail fees (making it $5 per person) at the Aspen Grove Cross Country Ski Center, right here at Wagbo (!/4 south of farmhouse), starting at 3:00 pm. Bring your own skis or snowshoes or rent some at additional cost.

Then, it's a "vegan" culinary tour with presenter (and Wagbo Board member) Paul Murray. Bring a vegan dish to pass (no meat, eggs, or dairy please). The potluck begins at 6:00 p.m., followed by Paul's presentation and a discussion of the new book "The World Peace Diet" at 7:00 p.m. We are located at 5745 N. M-66, just 3 miles south of East Jordan.
Come with or without a dish!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Winterfest Updates

First of all, we are showing the movie at the Wagbo Peace Center, not at the library as previously mentioned. We will be borrowing a projector so that we can watch it Big Screen! Light refreshments will be served. The time is the same, 6:00 pm.

Also, if it is cold or windy Saturday evening, come out anyways! We will have an alternate activity planned if the weather forbids us from going on our nature hike. We will show episodes of Jim Henson's The Storyteller, an excellent rendition of old European folktales that's fun for all ages.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Friday Pot Luck

Our monthly tradition continues in January - just a week later. Bring a dish to pass if you are able to the Wagbo Peace Center and join us for the First (or second!) Friday Potluck on January 9th at 6 p.m.. Table service, beverages and good company are provided! Dr. John Richter, president of the Friends of the Jordan River, will be the featured speaker at the January potluck. Dr Richter’s slide presentation and discussion “Protecting our Jordan Watershed;” and the proposed injection well near Alba, MI will follow dinner at 7:00 P.M.The program and potluck are free and open to the public. For more information call: Jeanette at (231) 585-6922 or the Wagbo Peace Center at (231) 536-0333.

New Addition to the Family

Interested in buying eggs?
Wagbo recently received a donation of nine laying hens and a rooster! The chickens have so far been giving 5 eggs a day, and this amount is split in half with their current intern caretakers, Maria and Fischer. They will probably start laying more as they grow accustomed to their new home and as the daylight increases. If you're interested in purchasing eggs, please call the center at 231-536-0333 and leave a message, or email The chickens are currently being fed a corn mash, and fruit and vegetable scraps, and we are in the process of obtaining organic feed.