Green Together: Northern Michigan Green Developments

Not just a green home, but a whole green community. That’s the powerful concept behind these three Northern Michigan developments—attract people who share an easy-on-the-earth ethic, enable them to live in closer concert with the land, and enjoy watching them form strong bonds with one another around those common values.

Cedar Valley Ridge

When Dan Paulson first purchased the land for Cedar Valley Ridge (just west of Traverse City), he wanted to keep all of this lovely landscape preserved, but when he realized that was not feasible, he crafted an environmentally sensitive development that included no more than 35 building sites and left 70 percent of the land preserved as a shared recreational area with groomed trails. An emphasis on green building and a shared environmental ethic among buyers rounds out the deal. But most important, Cedar Valley Ridge is “about building community, building connections to each other and to the land, and it’s that sense of connection that results in a sustainable community and a sustainable planet,” Paulson says.

Iron Horse Farms

Iron Horse Farms joined land from three centennial farms along Wilson Lake (near Ellsworth), to form an equine-oriented development with 500 acres, nearly 2 miles of lakefront, and 7 miles of riding trails. For horse owners, other highlights include a giant riding stable and organic feed grown on site. Customers see value in the preserved open space, community built around ties to the land, sense of history, and focus on green construction says developer Mark Gebhard. Proof: “We’ll have 40 people working here (construction) this spring,” Gebhard says.

Douglas Valley Ranch

Douglas Valley Ranch, near Manistee, is serving up 640 acres of organically certified farmland to entice buyers enchanted with the idea of owning individual small vineyards (a growing trend on the East and West Coasts) and living among organic orchards and finding community with likeminded people. More than half the acreage will remain as agricultural or open space, says developer Steve Loomis. Views of Lake Michigan two miles away, rolling topography all around and a community-wide emphasis on green construction come with the deal. The kicker? The first five buyers will receive a one-acre organic vineyard planted and trellised at no additional charge.

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