Skip to main content

Community Life Enrichment Classes

These classes are open enrollment, non-credit life enrichment programs, intended to provide a safe space for all learners to gain skills in food production, landscaping and environmental stewardship, and other areas of homesteading.

Watch our social media outlets to hear when class registration opens!


Community Classes at the Food Innovation Center 


Eco-Friendly Home Landscape Design 1.0
Typically offered in winter and fall

This course is for the homeowner or interested beginning designer to learn how to develop and design a home landscape that enhances local ecosystem services. Learn the basics of “right plant, right place”, and how to use plants and hardscapes to amplify aesthetics and ecosystem function. You will also learn how to use iTree® software to properly place trees in your landscape; this will enable you to reduce heating and cooling costs, maximize the benefits of shade, and reduce air and water pollution. We will provide you with a landscape design toolkit, and you will have the chance to design your own site, and get peer and expert feedback on your ideas and final design. 

Eco Landscape 101 Website 1


Eco-Friendly Home Landscape Design 2.0
Typically offered in winter and fall 

This three-day course is the second in a two-part series and will give you additional hands-on experience designing your eco-friendly home landscape. Students will 1) revisit the design principles, 2) review right plant, right place concepts, 3) enhance their drawing and design skills, and 4) visit local residential spaces with a professional designer. These experiences will enable students to feel confident structuring a design plan works for their space and local ecosystem. One class session will be offsite so students can gain hands-on experience measuring and evaluating outdoor spaces.

Plant Parenting 101
Typically offered in winter 

Are you a new indoor plant parent? Are you struggling with knowing when and what to feed your plant? Is your plant cranky because it is receiving too little or too much water? We can help. Join us for Plant Parenting 101 – a course designed to explain the basics of plant biology in a way that will help you become a knowledgeable and successful plant parent. We will discuss plant nutrition, water and light requirements, soil selection, and more. In addition to learning some biology basics, we will also discuss how to select the right plant for your indoor environment. Lastly, we will head into the greenhouse to practice some hands-on plant propagation techniques – at the end of the day; you will have up to three new plants to take home with you!

Build a Native Bee Hotel
Typically offered in winter 

Tunnel nesting bees are important pollinators for fruits and vegetables. Unlike honey bees, tunnel nesting bees do not live in colonies or move in swarms so they are also often called solitary bees. Participants in this class will learn how to build and manage a bee hotel to support their local tunnel nesting bees. Each participant will be able to take home a bee hotel at the end of the class.

Create a Traditional Fairy Garden
Typically offered in summer 1 

Fairy Gardens have been cultivated in Ireland, the British Isles, Germany, France, and Scandinavia since druidic times, and are still very popular today in the Celtic regions of Europe. Especially popular in Ireland, fairy gardens serve as passageways that enable fairies to join the human world; they’re also an excellent way to add a bit of whimsy and mystery to your garden. This course teaches you how to design and create your own traditional fairy garden using natural items like cones, acorns, and twigs. You will learn which plants work best in your garden (and which plants fairies prefer!). You will be provided with a pot, soil, gravel, plants, and items to make your garden come to life. 

Fall Plant Identification Walk 
Typically offered in fall

Join local herbalist Brenna Pixley in this interactive plant walk, focusing on identifying tasty and useful plants. Become more aware of seasonal and traditional parts of our diets and practices, and discuss native and invasive species and sustainable and ethical wild crafting techniques. 

Fall Plant ID Website


Composting & Vermiculture Composting
Typically offered in winter and  fall

Do you want to lower your carbon footprint and make your own organic fertilizer in one simple process? Learn to compost! Composting is the process for recycling wastes like kitchen scraps and grass clippings into an organic soil amendment that will help your garden retain moisture and support beneficial microorganisms. Vermiculture composting uses worms to recycle food scraps and other organic material. These two methods are a great alternative to putting food and yard wastes in landfills, where they generate methane. Join us in this 2-hour class to learn the basics of vermicomposting at home. We will provide each student with a pound of worms to get started in your own vermicomposting adventures. 

The Magic (and Science!) of Trees
Typically offered in fall

Trees and humans have a long and interesting history together. In addition to the joy that trees bring us, they also give us food, building materials, and the Oxygen we breathe. There’s also a lot of things that trees do behind the scenes; they filter pollutants, store Carbon, reduce stormwater runoff, and save us millions of dollars annually in heating and cooling costs.  While this is not a tree identification course, you will learn how to select the right tree for your location so that it will enhance the beauty and health of your landscape – and – save you money! The course is divided into three sections 1) Trees in the Landscape: A Lecture, 2) an introduction to MyTree ® landscaping software, and 3) a walk around the Food Innovation Center Campus, to look at trees and discuss their function and placement.




At Home Hydroponics
Typically offered in winter 

Hydroponics, or the process of growing plants in nutrient-rich water without the use of soil, has been around for hundreds of years. Although typically run as large-scale commercial operations, hydroponics provides a variety of benefits to the home gardener as well. This class will teach the very basics of home hydroponics including light needs, water, pH, growing mediums, and building and operating your own small-scale setup. Participants will leave with resources for purchasing table setups, plans for DIY setups, and starter plants or seeds.

Season Extension with Low Tunnels for Farm and Garden
Typically offered in winter 

Stretch your harvest further into the winter and start harvesting earlier in the spring by using low tunnels. Using  our hoop bender, you’ll make a set of 4’ x 4’ low tunnels for your farm or garden and learn what and when to plant for successful winter and early spring harvests. Low tunnels can be used directly in the ground, inserted into raised beds, or used inside of a hoophouse to provide additional protection.

Backyard Poultry
Typically offered in winter 

In this introductory class to keeping backyard poultry, the participants will learn the basic of raising chickens on a small scale, including breed selection, raising chicks, housing, handling, sanitation, and flock wellness. 

So You Want to Be A Beekeeper
Typically offered in fall

If you are interested in beekeeping, but not sure what it takes to be a successful beekeeper, this class is for you. Join instructor Charlotte Hubbard in this 3-hour session where you will learn about the financial, time, physical and emotional commitment required for beekeeping. You will also learn about the essential equipment needed, where to locate hives, the various options for obtaining bees and a timeline for making it happen. A virtual class  

Beekeeping 101
Typically offered in winter 

This three-part course is for those thinking about keeping bees, or in their early years of this fascinating hobby. Beekeeping 101 will detail how to get started and fundamental bee biology. This will likely be a virtual course, with the link sent to all registered participants the day before the class begins.

Beekeeping 102
Typically offered in summer 1

This second part of the course will (weather permitting) be hands-on in the college apiary. We’ll hopefully install a package and a nuc, split overwintered colonies, and evaluate hive health each week.  We’ll also cover pests, diseases, swarming, splits and integrated pest management with the goal of teaching successful beekeeping for SW Michigan.

Beekeeping 103
Typically offered in fall

This last section of the three-part series in beekeeping will look at the life of a honeybee colony as it continues to get ready for winter. Overwintering practices, preparation and options will be discussed, along with fall and winter duties of the beekeeper. We will continue our examination of bee biology, and discuss other products of the hive. 

Intro to Nut Production
Typically offered in winter 

Intro to Nut Production will help landowners decide if nut production is right for them. We will provide education on various nut varieties that grow in Michigan; walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts and pecans.  We will go over their uses, common pests, tools, equipment, and offer a taste test of nuts and value-added products.

Seed Stewardship: Garden Design for Food and Seed
Typically offered in summer 1

Whether you are tending a half-acre, a few raised beds, or some pots on your patio, you can learn how to design your garden to produce an abundant yield of both food and viable seeds for planting next year! In this hands-on workshop, we will examine a variety of garden designs, plant the seed garden at the Food Innovation Center, and workshop participant garden plans. We’ll help you decide which seed crops will do best in your garden and teach you what you need to know to steward those crops to a successful seed harvest.

Seed Stewardship: Hand Pollination and Wet Seeds Processing
Typically offered in fall

Grow your seed-saving skills through this class at the Food Innovation Center seed garden, where you’ll learn hands-on techniques for saving seeds from wet-seeded crops such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and melons. We’ll cover how to select for seeds that are especially well-adapted to your growing conditions, isolation strategies and hand-pollination techniques for cross-pollinating plants, and cleaning and storing wet-fruited seeds for maximum viability and vigor.  

Seed Stewardship: Harvesting, Cleaning, and Storing Staple Crops for Food and Seed
Typically offered in fall

In this class at the Food Innovation Center seed garden, we’ll explore seed crops like beans and grains that can be grown in our region as protein-rich staple foods. You will build your knowledge and skill in growing, harvesting, cleaning, and storing seeds from a variety of dry beans and grains such as rice, amaranth, millet, barley, rye, and wheat. We’ll demonstrate tools and techniques for threshing and winnowing, selecting seeds for next year’s seed crop, and ideas for incorporating these nourishing foods into your daily diet.

Garden Guardians - How Insects Keep Pests Out of the Garden 
Typically offered in summer 1 

This fun and informative class will focus on how beneficial insects in the yard and garden help protect your plants from damaging pests.  We will take an up close and personal look at lacewings, lady beetles, “true bugs' ', mantids, and others. These insects serve as predators of aphids, thrips, and caterpillars, just to name a few.  The course will be a combination of hands-on and classroom learning and at the end of the day, you will take home a packet of seeds for plants that will help you attract predators to your garden. Attracting guardians to your garden could be part of your Integrated Pest Management program – and - it’s fun to see them in their ecological habitats.  Come join us!

Integrative Pest Management
Typically offered in winter

All gardeners at some point have to deal with garden pests. In today’s online world, there’s a lot of information out there, good and bad; sometimes it’s tough to even know where to start looking for information. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a practical six step strategy used in gardens big and small to monitor and manage insects, diseases, and other pests. In practice, IPM helps promote ecosystem balance, increases treatment success, and saves you time and money. Over the course of three meetings, we will discuss 1) how to identify garden pests, 2) how to determine if, when and what treatments should be applied, and 3) some steps you can take to increase your garden’s resilience to pest populations. This course will have indoor and outdoor classroom and hands-on experiences. At the end of the course, you will receive a packet of seeds for plants that will attract beneficial insects to your garden, a hand lens, and an IPM for the Home Garden reference manual.

Mushroom Cultivation 
Typically offered in winter and fall

Come join us in learning about growing your own gourmet mushrooms from locally available materials! We will grow oysters, shiitake, winecaps, and more. Students will learn how to procure substrates and create good environments for mushroom growth. We will also discuss how to use coffee grounds and other composted material as substrates for mushroom growth.  Some mushroom identification is practiced during this course as well. Come ready to learn about the savory mysteries of fungal farming. Students take home different inoculated mushroom media at the end of each session. 

Pruning Techniques for Fruiting Plants
Typically offered in winter

This two-day course will give you hands-on experience on pruning fruit trees, shrubs, and other plants. The first session will be in the classroom; we will discuss fruit plant physiology and morphology and you will learn how and when to prune for maximum yield. The second session will be at the WMU Gibbs House where you will gain hands-on experience with a variety of pruning tools and techniques. 



Visible Mending - Making your old Clothes a Slow Fashion Statement  
Typically offered in winter 

Do you have a favorite shirt or pair of jeans with a hole in them, stains, or weak spot? Do you hate the idea of sending them to the landfill? Here’s your solution: transform your holey clothing into a work of slow fashion art! If you can thread a needle and sew on a button, you’ve got the skills you need. The fiber industry is one of the biggest polluters in the world- behind only the oil and gas industry. Repairing and refurbishing your clothing keeps your clothing out of the waste stream, saves you money, gives you a creative outlet, and will make you the envy of your friends. Join us in this 6 week exploration into the world of mending. We will be learning mending of socks, jeans and other pants, shirts and more types of clothing using techniques of weaving, embroidery, knitting, and more. Minimal sewing skills are required- we’ll teach you what you need to know although some familiarity is useful. 

At Home Herbalism
Typically offered in winter and fall

Herbs are a traditional source of nutrition and healing. Students will explore the impact of ancestral plants, sources of materia medica, ethical and sustainable foraging techniques, as well as recipes for building a home apothecary. We will engage in on-campus plant walks to discuss bioregional, cultivated and seasonal plants. Includes hands-on workshops.

Urban Homesteading
Typically offered in winter and fall

Join us in revealing many of the ways to make more food with less from home! In an era of climate change and energy decline, we will benefit from being more involved in producing our own food to ensure access to the most nutritious and life supporting meals. The secret is that it can be fun and easier than you think to care for your family, friends and city’s ecology. Come join us in learning to make simple gardens (indoor and outdoor), planting perennial food crops, foraging wild edibles, preservation and fermentation of crops, raising urban livestock, cheese making, composting and mushroom cultivation. A class for all ages and all scales of land access.

Planter Boxes and Power tools
Typically offered in winter and fall

The Dapper Hammer will teach community members to create a wood planter box. This class will be a two part series that will cover introduction to basic power tools including; miter saw, drill, power sander, and basic joinery. There will be additional instruction on finishing methods. This class focuses on how to build a simple planter box you can take home with you, while learning how to properly use and understand power tools.