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.