It’s impossible to overstate the importance of agriculture to the Grand Traverse Region. Although tourism has taken hold as the area’s most noteworthy economic pillar, local farms consistently produce some of the very best cherries, apples, asparagus and grapes in the entire country. In fact, our region is the main reason why Michigan ranks second only to California in terms of agricultural diversity. In addition to enjoying the delicious bounty from these farms, residents and visitors benefit from the wonderful viewsheds created by farms, along with the numerous environmental benefits and jobs they provide.

Farming is indeed a way of life here, but it’s very much at risk. As the region has grown, thousands of acres of farmland have been gobbled up for a variety of development activities. The West Michigan Fruitbelt, which runs through our service area, is as threatened as it is unique. Not long ago, The American Farmland Trust identified this fruitbelt as one of the 10 most threatened agricultural resources in the entire nation.

Since day one, GTRLC has placed an emphasis on preserving our local farmland. Through hundreds of private conservation easements, critical support of government Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) programs and other innovative measures, we’ve helped save thousands of acres of farms. But we still have so much work to do.

Your support of our farmland work will:

  • Allow GTRLC to aggressively pursue farmland protection projects throughout our five-county service area, acting fast when necessary to save parcels that face immediate threats
  • Ensure that local farms continue to provide the water quality and scenic view benefits enjoyed by residents and visitors
  • Safeguard the generations-old tradition of farming in the Grand Traverse Region
  • Help farms transition from one generation to the next
  • Protect this valuable economic driver that creates jobs in local communities

Interested in protecting your farmland or learning more about our farm protection program? Email Farmland Program Manager Laura Rigan at or call her at (231) 929-7911. More information about conservation easements and other land protection tools can also be found on our landowner information page.