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Ottawa County Accepts New Farms Into Farmland Preservation Program

By Alvin (AJ) Jones

Two new farms in Ottawa County have been accepted into a program intended to preserve farmland. The two farms make up 131 acres of land. The program is one of several in Michigan intended to maintain a local food source amid growing population and land development.

In Ottawa County, the Farmland Preservation Program sees farmers voluntarily selling the right to develop land to the county. In exchange, the county ensures that the land is only used for agricultural purposes, and the farmers maintain ownership of the land, can farm on it, and are also given fair market value for potential gains lost by the sale of development rights.

They can also sell the land, in which case the easement still applies, ensuring the land is still used for agricultural purposes. Funding for the project comes from private donors, fundraisers, and state and federal grants.

Holstege and Jongekrijg Farms of Zeeland Charter Township, the two farms most recently added to the program, join six others already in it. The county said so far it has preserved 697 acres of agricultural land through the program.

Becky Huttenga is the agriculture and economic resources coordinator for Ottawa County. She said rapid development in the county means farmland is threatened. “I think everyone needs to be concerned about making sure that we have enough available and to grow our food,” she said. “It's a foregone conclusion that farmland is always going to diminish. The best that we can do is try to slow it down.”

She also said it's important to preserve farmland for economic and cultural reasons.

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