Northern Michigan: The iconic farmhouse at the Maple Bay Farm on North US-31, owned by Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, is a step closer to getting the needed restoration that will help ensure its future. Elk Rapids residents, Royce Ragland and Kenneth Bloem, have generously made a kick-off gift for a new metal roof, a major step in transforming the historic farm house for a new use.
“That farmhouse is truly symbolic – not just of the 100 years of farming in its past, but the future of farming as a new generation has really embraced farming and the land and work ethic that accompany it” says Royce. “Driving along that stretch of 31, you are just embraced by farms on both sides of the road and that matters to us, it impacts our experience and our feeling of ‘home’. Ken and I feel that if something is important, you need to do something about it; take action, contribute what you can – time, ideas, or money. And this project is so doable – we can get started on this as a community and we can restore that farm house. Our gift isn’t huge, but it’s what we can do right now and we hope that it will inspire others to give what they can too.”
Earlier this summer, the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy issued a Request for Proposals for partnership opportunities at the Maple Bay Farm. According to Megan Olds, Associate Director of the Conservancy, the proposals are being reviewed now. “We’re excited by the opportunities and ideas and the passion that the community has for the farm. No matter what types of partnerships we pursue, we know that we have to start with a new roof to stabilize the house,” Olds said.
The Maple Bay Farm is just one of many projects that the Conservancy is working on in the North US-31 Corridor. They continue to work on the Acme Bayside Park expansion in collaboration with Acme Township, which is now in its third phase and will add more East Bay frontage to the park as well as deconstruct buildings from land protected in earlier phases. Farmland protection has preserved over 600 acres of working farms along the corridor and now will expand via the Conservancy’s FarmAbility program, a program designed to temporarily protect farmland, while benefiting farm families economically and by helping them plan for the future of their farm. Additionally, work is underway in partnership with TART, Inc., to explore ways to link parks and recreational assets with a potential non-motorized trail between Traverse City and Elk Rapids.
“All of the Conservancy’s work on the ground happens because of the passion and generosity of people who believe in the mission and in this community. It is inspiring to work with people like Royce and Ken who are willing to make a choice to invest in what they care about. Special places like Maple Bay – where people can connect to the land and to each other – are protected because of that choice. We can literally “raise the roof” together.”
The Conservancy’s mission is to protect significant natural, scenic and farm lands, and to advance stewardship, now and for future generations. Their work is dependent on the support of landowners, individual donors, businesses, foundations, volunteers and government. Find out more at gtrlc.org.