As an organization, we believe in working together with like-minded individuals and families to find conservation solutions. We operate with the philosophy that a good conservation project must be good for both the land and the people involved. With this ethic in mind, the Conservancy developed an innovative program called FarmAbility in response to needs expressed by the Leelanau farm community.
As the first, privately-run program of its kind in the United States, FarmAbility has three primary goals:
- Ensure up to 15,000 acres of farmland will remain available for local food production for the next 10 years or more;
- Provide enrolled farmers with more access to educational programs for enhanced farming practices and improved profitability;
- Better-position enrolled families to transfer the farm to the next generation through estate or tax planning.
To achieve these goals, FarmAbility offers modest, financial incentives, in return for families’ commitment to farm their lands for a 10-year period. Enrollees sign “Farm Conservation Agreements,” providing the Conservancy with a right-of-first-refusal to buy and preserve any enrolled farm placed on the market from development. Michigan State University Extension, Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station and Leelanau Conservation District are close partners in administering the program.
The farm community’s response to the first phase of FarmAbility was tremendous. During the spring of 2009, in just a few short weeks, 28 families (with farms totaling 5,078 acres in 10 out of 11 townships) enrolled in the program.
We would like to expand the program by enrolling an additional 5,000 acres in each 2012 and 2015. For more information about this program and how you can enroll your farm in Phase 2, see the link below.