American Farmland Trust

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Love Family

Michigan Family Makes a Love-ly Gift of Farmland

The historic Love family farm in Climax Township, Michigan, is a rural oasis on the outskirts of several booming cities. Back in the ’90s, AFT identified the area as one of the nation’s best, yet most threatened farming areas. But AFT member and lifelong farmer Owen Love and his wife Ellen were determined to do something to halt the escalating tide of development.

In 1991 Owen, then 80, and Ellen placed an agricultural conservation easement on their 663-acre farm to ensure it would always be available for farming. In 1995, they decided to take an even bigger step and donated their farm outright to AFT. Owen died just a week later.

Ellen told American Farmland Trust at the time that Owen, who cared passionately about the future of agriculture in America, was content at the end knowing the agreement would provide for his family. He also thought the donation would help protect other agricultural land, by setting an example for other farmers to follow and by boosting statewide farmland protection efforts in Michigan.

“Owen felt very good about it,” Ellen said then. “He told me, ‘I know it’s the best thing to do.’”

In accordance with the Loves’ wishes, AFT sold the protected land in 2011 to two young brothers who continue to operate the farm. Proceeds from the sale were used to establish the Owen and Ellen Love Family Farmland Protection Fund, which helps Michigan communities and land trusts to permanently protect farmland.

To learn more about making a farm legacy gift to AFT, contact AFT’s Bob Wagner at (413) 586-9330, ext. 12 or bwagner@farmland.org.

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