In 1995, Owen and Ellen Love donated their 660-acre farm outside Climax, Michigan to American Farmland Trust. The Loves believed deeply in protecting their valuable farmland for future generations and wished to have their decision to protect their farm provide an example for others and eventually serve as a catalyst for other farmland protection initiatives. Speaking of her husband’s commitment to their cause, Ellen Love remarked around the time of their gift, “You can’t always talk folks out of selling good farmland to developers. He wanted to show people here in Michigan what can be done to save farms. Make a believer out of ‘em.”
After both Owen and Ellen passed on, we stewarded the farm, renting it to the Loves long-time farm tenant. In 2010, the farm was sold, subject to a conservation easement, to two young brothers in the area who will continue to operate the farm for grain production. In accordance with the Loves’ wishes, the Owen and Ellen Love Family Farmland Protection Fund was established to be used for assisting in the permanent protection of other farmland in Michigan. The Fund secures the legacy of Owen and Ellen Love and their vision of providing an example and the financial wherewithal for others to protect valuable farmland.
Available to Michigan communities and land trusts, the Fund will offer loans to bridge a time gap between an opportunity to protect farmland and the availability of other public or private funding to purchase land in fee or an agricultural conservation easement.
“We are proud our parents chose to preserve the Love family farm for agricultural use, and also provide the means for others to save agricultural land,” say Bob Love and Edith Pestrue, the Love’s children. “The Owen and Ellen Love Family Farmland Protection Fund will play an essential role in supporting projects that protect the productive use of agricultural land in the State of Michigan.”
American Farmland Trust has worked with other similarly motivated landowners around the country on legacy gifts to fulfill their desires and commitments to protect farm and ranch lands for future productive use and to facilitate farmland protection initiatives. If you are interested in discussing such opportunities, please contact Jen Small at 518-581-0078 (Ext. 301).
About the author: One of the nation’s leading experts in Farmland Protection, Bob Wagner celebrated his 25th year at American Farmland Trust in 2010 and has worked in the field of farmland protection since 1981. In his current position, Wagner helps states and local communities nationwide build support for and create policies to protect agricultural land.