Conservancy Partners with Three Families Again for New Farmland Protection

  • Esch Farm
  • Egeler Brothers Farm
  • Kelenski Farm

From our 2012 Summer Newsletter

For the third year running, the Leelanau Conservancy has partnered with three farm families to successfully apply for funding to conserve their farms.  With the help of more than $1.1 in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm and Ranchland Protection Program (FRPP), these family farms, totaling 383 acres will be permanently protected.

These three farms include over 151 acres of the Jerry & Anna May Kelenske farm in Centerville Township, which features over a half mile of frontage along scenic French Road. The rich soils here currently produce row crops and hay as forage for the Kelenskes’ heifers. The 115-acre Larry & Jan Esch farm, located along Horn Road is located in Leland Township. It features sweeping views of Lake Leelanau and Lake Michigan and is a prime fruit-growing site. The 116-acre Egeler Brothers Farm straddles the Leland and Suttons Bay Township line. This farm is contiguous to two other protected farms—45 North Winery  and the Gary, Christi and Steve Bardenhagen farm.  Also a prime fruit-growing site, the Egeler farm adds to a substantial block of protected farmland in the East Leland-Suttons Bay Fruit Belt area.
The Conservancy works with willing farmers and landowners who wish to permanently preserve their lands. For farm families, the program can be a great tool to help the older generation prepare for retirement and enable the next generation to take over the farm. One of the key barriers to young farmers is the cost of land. Too often, farmable acreage is too expensive to cash-flow a crop due to the desirability for second-home development. The FRPP program helps resolve this issue by paying the owner to remove the “development premium” on the land, making the acreage more affordable for beginning farmers.

Although the right to future residential development is extinguished, the family continues to own the land and to have the right to farm it. The property also remains on the tax rolls. At the community-level, it helps keep the agricultural economy and the business environment for farming strong by protecting larger blocks of intact farms.

This FRPP award of $1,152,000 will cover half the cost of protecting these three family farms. The Leelanau Conservancy will need to raise 25% of the needed funding—$623,900. Each farm family will also donate 25% of the appraised value necessary to complete the projects.

Overall, this award brings the number of successful FRPP applications to 14 in the last 11 years, with 9 successful federal projects since 2010 alone. Donations to the Leelanau Conservancy’s Community Farmland Fund are reaping great rewards. When these projects are completed we will have protected 14 farms with a fair market value of $17.4 million and nearly 2,500 acres of family-owned farmland through the Federal Farm & Ranchland Protection Program alone. This is but a subset of the nearly 4,000 acres of family farms permanently protected since the late 1990s. But most important is the fact that these 14 farms spanning 6 townships demonstrate the crucial importance of Leelanau’s agricultural heritage and economy.

“We are extremely proud of these farm families,” said Tom Nelson, Director of Farm Programs for the Leelanau Conservancy. “They have been tremendous stewards of these lands for generations, and we’re thrilled to partner with them, as well as the Natural Resources Conservation Service which administers the federal program, and all of our donors and supporters. Together we are ensuring that these farms are available to future generations to produce food locally and continue a way of life that is uniquely Leelanau.”

2010 FRPP Farm Projects

Olsen  Farm – Cleveland Twp

228.3 acres

Sedlacek Farm – Leelanau Twp

79 acres

Spinniken Farm – Suttons Bay Twp

172 acres

2011 FRPP Farm Projects

Korson Farm – Leelanau/Leland Twps

152.3 Acres

Send & Emeott Farm – Bingham Twp

144.9 Acres

Stanton Farm – Centerville Twp

172.5 Acres


2012 FRPP Farm Projects

Kelenske Farm – Centerville Twp

151.5 acres

Egeler Farm – Leland & Suttons Bay Twps

116 acres

Esch Farm – Leland Twp

115 acres

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