The offices of the Americana Foundation are located on Tollgate Farm, a 160-acre historic farmstead in Novi, Michigan that originally was owned by the Foundation’s founders, Adolph H. and Ginger Meyer. The Meyers first saw the farm during a visit to Novi in 1951 and were impressed by the natural beauty of the area and the scenic topography. They purchased it shortly thereafter as an expression of their interest in honoring America’s agrarian traditions, out of concern about the vanishing agricultural landscape beyond the Detroit suburbs, and to create a home for Mr. Meyer’s prize-winning German shepherds. For years, the farm produced vegetables, dairy products, corn, oats and hay and at various times housed chickens, horses, hogs, and cows.
The Meyers donated 60 acres of the farmstead to Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) in 1979 with the proviso that the farm be used to promote public agricultural education. The rest of the farmstead is owned by the Foundation and leased to MSUE for community gardening, hay fields, and other uses. Educational programming at Tollgate Farm addresses the preservation of American agriculture, community gardening, and hands-on learning for children, families, and adults (e.g., summer camps, science-based field trips, discovery days, educational workshops). The farm features fields, gardens, farm animals, rolling hills, woodlands, and a pond, offering a unique opportunity to experience agriculture on a working farm in an urban environment.
Since 1977, the Foundation has provided almost $5 million in gifts and grants to MSU to help restore and maintain the facilities at Tollgate Farm and to support MSUE’s agricultural and educational programming. Among other things, these contributions have supported the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, youth programming on agricultural and environmental issues, and specialized staff positions needed for maintenance and education. The Foundation also funded the restoration of the homestead and other historic farm buildings on the property and has contributed to major improvement projects that enhance the natural and manmade features at the site.