Bart and Gail Ingraham have made a gift of more than $1 million to the Leelanau Conservancy through their estate plans. This generous gift will protect more than 880 acres of farmland in perpetuity and provide funds to enable new access by land to a recent addition to the Conservancy’s Cedar River Preserve.
The Ingrahams’ gift to the Farmland Protection program will permanently protect farmland in Leelanau County, much of which includes critical wetlands and established forests. This gift along with your support of Farmland Protection also preserves habitat corridors for native wildlife, breathtaking scenic vistas, and maintains contiguous blocks of agricultural land, which is essential for a vibrant farming community and local food.
“Bart and Gail had a real love of nature, the beauty of the natural world, and this area. And that shows in this tremendous gift they’ve made,” says Jim Nugent, Leelanau Conservancy board member, farmer, and friend of the Ingrahams. “Bart always had a passion for agriculture from growing up on a farm. He was also a real pioneer in this area making compost when many had never heard of it.” Bart and Gail Ingraham ran Bellwether Gardens, which was focused on perennial gardens in Leelanau County, for more than 30 years.
The Cedar River Preserve is known for its unique microhabitats that support more than 272 native plant species and has been called Northern Michigan’s Everglades. Previously, the Cedar River Preserve has only been accessible by small watercraft on its water trails. This generous gift from the Ingrahams will enable the Leelanau Conservancy to provide improved public access through its newly acquired dry-land portion of the preserve. This area includes a 1.4-mile hiking trail with beautiful views and a vernal pool.
In recognition of the Ingrahams’ generosity, this portion of the Cedar River Preserve will be named in their honor. The Leelanau Conservancy looks forward to welcoming you to The Bart and Gail Ingraham Preserve at the Cedar River Preserve in late 2023, upon completion of the new entrance.
Along with being artists and running a landscape-design business, Bart and Gail always made time to help as volunteers at the Leelanau Conservancy. They could often be found in the office stuffing envelopes or out on the trail pulling invasive species such as garlic mustard. Though Bart and Gail have passed, the generous gift they have left in their estate plans has ensured that the Leelanau County they loved will continue to be protected and preserved for generations to