Northport residents Michael Chetcuti and Kyle Evans have finalized an agreement to donate a perpetual conservation easement over 51 acres of pasture, orchard land and Lake Michigan frontage to The Leelanau Conservancy.

The conservancy has preserved more than 13,000 acres, creating 25 public natural areas and more than 15 miles of public hiking trails. Executive Director Thomas Nelson applauds Chetcuti and Evans for their “unwavering commitment to food and farming on the Leelanau Peninsula.”

“Michael Chetcuti and Kyle Evans are movers, shakers and visionaries on so many levels,” Nelson says. “By permanently preserving a historic farmstead—which also contains a scenic ridgeline overlooking Lake Michigan, northern hardwood forest, a stream and wetland corridor, Lake Michigan beach and a forested bluff—they are doing nothing short of changing the future of this cherished place for the better. They join a growing legion of people who have made it their personal responsibility to ensure that Leelanau will continue to be a place of rural beauty, integrity and agricultural productivity for generations to come. Michael and Kyle are the true personification of heroes in our book. We couldn’t be more grateful to them for their fine example to this community.”

The donated conservation easement is located on private land along Carlson Road and includes 360 feet of Lake Michigan frontage. Chetcuti and Evans had tried for several years to purchase the property, finally doing so in 2016.

“As residents we’ve enjoyed this stunning landscape for decades now, and we wanted to make sure that this beautiful corner of our state remains undeveloped for eternity,” Chetcuti says.

In its past the former Bowen Farmstead land was under several acres of cherry trees and was grazed by a herd of Scottish Highlander cattle. A farmhouse and centennial barn will remain on the property. Under the conservation easement, Chetcuti and Evans can use the land for agricultural purposes only.

“We plan to start with 10 acres of grapes and 10 more of hops,” Chetcuti says. “In the future we may add a solar-powered greenhouse.”

Chetcuti and Evans are principals in the Michigan-based Farm + Ferment hospitality venture which includes restaurants, a brewery and the Leelanau-based Baia Estates Winery and Michigan Hop Alliance. All produce from the farm will supply those businesses.

“We live and work in Michigan,” Evans says. “We try to be as home-grown as possible.”

Leelanau County is gaining international notoriety as an up-and-coming winemaking region. Local winemaker Larry Mawby, one of the most successful operators in Michigan and also a board member for the Conservancy, applauded the land donation of Chetcuti and Evans.

“The conservation easement donated to the Leelanau Conservancy is a wonderful gift, helping the conservancy in its mission to protect the land, water and scenic character of the Leelanau Peninsula,” Mawby says. “But even more importantly, it assures that that piece of the peninsula, so loved by Michael and Kyle, will continue to be available as farmland for future generations to care for. Michael and Kyle’s generosity bespeaks their care for Leelanau.”

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