Protecting Precious Land—and Planting Wildflowers
Rob Manigold grows cherries on the Old Mission Peninsula in northern Michigan. Fruit trees thrive in the microclimate of the Old Mission and neighboring Leelanau peninsulas, which produce three-quarters of the world’s tart cherries.
In the late 1980s, Rob—who also serves as township board supervisor—contacted AFT when the 507-acre Murray Farm came up for sale. AFT bought the land and held it until Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources could take it over. The project turned the tide on development in the area, leading to the creation of a local program that has since preserved thousands of acres of orchards and farm fields.
In 2017, Rob worked with Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy and AFT to protect his own farm, with a grant from AFT’s Owen and Ellen Love Family Farmland Protection Fund.
Finally, Rob worked with American Farmland Trust to plant several acres of wildflowers in the pasture below his orchards to attract the bees that pollinate the cherry blossoms. He planted them through AFT’s Farmland Pollinator Protection Project, which establishes high-quality pollinator habitat on protected farms.
Photo of cherries by Trent Strohm/Flickr Photo of Rob and Lois Manigold by Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy