When Owen and Ellen Love donated their 660-acre farm outside Climax, Michigan, to American Farmland Trust, they hoped to be a model for other farmers. The couple cared passionately about the future of agriculture and wanted to jumpstart farmland protection in their state.
In accordance with the Loves’ wishes, AFT protected their farm with an agricultural conservation easement after the couple died and sold it in 2010. Proceeds from the sale established the Owen and Ellen Love Family Farmland Protection Fund (the “Love Fund”), which helps Michigan communities and land trusts permanently protect farmland.
In recent years, the fund has supported the permanent protection of five key farms in Michigan, located in the West Michigan “Fruit Belt” area. Among the most diverse and productive agricultural regions in the world, the Fruit Belt’s sandy soils and unique microclimate make it an ideal environment for growing apples, berries, and stone fruits. AFT’s Farms Under Threat analysis identified the region as critical for protection.