Archived entries for Michigan

FarmAbility: Building Bridges with the Community

Focusing on the belief that a strong community connection with agriculture is integral to our economic health, retaining our heritage and quality of life, and living sustainably, Leelanau Conservancy in Michigan designed and launched FarmAbility in 2009. This program connects the land trust with farmers, leading them down the path to permanent land protection.

FarmAbility leads farmers on a path of permanent land protection.


Farmers enrolled in FarmAbility receive modest income incentives and long-term planning assistance in exchange for keeping their farmland in production for a minimum of 10 years. This program was adapted by neighboring Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy in 2013, and between the two land trusts, over 7000 acres of property have been enrolled so far.

Brian Bourdages of Grand Traverse says, “It’s an honor to work with those farmers and farm families that want to utilize various farmland protection methods to ensure our globally unique farmland remains valuable for farming in the future.”

Interested in the ideas and methods behind this program? You can talk with Bourdages and Tom Nelson, the developer of FarmAbility for Leelanau Conservancy, at an ask-an-expert call on November 1st at 11am. Registration is free for our individual and land trust members.  (Not a member?  Join today!)

These calls are a virtual component to our Land Trust Excellence & Advancement Program. Interested in learning more about how LEAP can help you and your land trust? Contact us any time!


Interested in knowing more about farmland protection in Wisconsin? Check out our Working Lands page.

New LEAP Peer Learning Opportunities – Join Us!

We at GWC are very excited to announce a new offering through the Land Trust Excellence & Advancement Program and our partnerships with the Land Trust Alliance Midwest Program and the Heart of the Lakes in Michigan. 

Building on the success of the Peer-to-Peer Mentoring program piloted in Michigan in 2010,  we are teaming up to offer a peer-to-peer mentoring program in Wisconsin and Michigan in 2012.  Due to the generosity of our LEAP funders, participation in the program is free and available to all land trust members of Gathering Waters!

What is the Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Program?

This is an organized effort to match peers of similar experiences throughout Michigan and Wisconsin to learn from one another as a component of both ACE (Accelerating Conservancy Excellence) and LEAP (Land Trust Excellence & Advancement Program).  This mentoring program will foster relationships and advance learning and sharing opportunities within the land trust community.  In addition to individual visits there will be group learning opportunities throughout the year and we will reimburse peers for making one trip to visit another peer.

 Is it right for me?

We hope so!  The program is designed for staff and board members of land trusts in WI and MI that are willing to share their expertise as well as learn from others doing similar work.  The requirements of the program are that participants make one trip between March 1 and October 31, 2012, and be willing to host peers at their land trust.

 How do I apply?

Applications are due by January 20, 2012 and should be submitted electronically to MaryKay O’Donnell, Kate Zurlo-Cuva, AND Julie Stoneman.


Call or e-mail Kate Zurlo-Cuva  (608-251-9131, ext. 12).

Gathering Waters • 211 S. Paterson St. Suite 270 • Madison, WI 53703 • PH 608-251-9131 • FX 608-663-5971 •