A Gift of Farmland Becomes a Legacy of Love

A Legacy of Love

The Love Farm was featured in the 1996 Spring Issue of American Farmland.

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.

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This entry was posted in Farmland Protection, Midwest, Uncategorized on by .
Bob Wagner

About Bob Wagner

About the author: Bob Wagner celebrates his 25th year at American Farmland Trust in 2010. He 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. He can be reached at bwagner@farmland.org

2 thoughts on “A Gift of Farmland Becomes a Legacy of Love

  1. Suzanna E. Raker

    As a Michigan farmer myself, and living in an area where small farms are gobbled up for recreational development, timber cutover and sprawl, I think the Loves have done a wonderful, remarkable thing that has the potential to save more farmland as well as protect the environment.

    Michigan is at a critical juncture in its future. Reading the state’s history, it’s easy to see that not so long ago, we led the nation in many agricultural endeavors and possess the soil, terrain, climate and water to return to a small farm, value-added agricultural economy. Excluding ‘CAFO’s, Michigan has an opportunity to excel in certified organic fruit, vegetable, pastured livestock, spelt and other specialty grains, queen bee production, berries and of course, great apples and hard cider! Let’s not squander this opportunity whining for pollution-causing industry to return or sitting around waiting for “they” to do something.

    Hats off to the folks in the Flint and Detroit areas developing farmers markets, city gardens and even -word has it- city dairies! Yes!

    Our farm, and others like it up here in the U.P. have become examples of being able to move into niche markets, use season extenders, and make farming pay. Clean water is key, but the markets are great.

    Thanks again to Loves and their great spirit. Hurray for AFT’s work and goals.

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