The Wittenbach/Wege Agriscience and Environmental Education Center will host a celebration ceremony on May 7, 2011 from 10:00 to 11:00am in honor of over 500 acres of family-owned farmland recently preserved by the Kent County Purchase of Development Rights Program. Festivities will include guest speakers, light refreshments and a “Fun on the Farm Day” presentation by the local Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter before and after the ceremony. The public is invited to share in the celebration free of charge.
VergennesTownship’s newest protected farms include:
- The Koning Farm – 170 acres producing hay for the family’s horse farm, corn for Herbruck’s Eggs and soybeans for Zeeland Farm Services.
- The Nauta Farm – 74.5 acres producing corn and soybeans for Zeeland Farm Services, West Michigan Turkey Co-Op and Herbruck’s Eggs.
- The Rittersdorf Farm – 231.4 acres producing corn and soybeans for Zeeland Farm Services, West Michigan Turkey Co-Op and Herbruck’s Eggs.
- The Wilcox Farm – 60 acres, known as the best farmland in the township, producing alfalfa for an Ionia County dairy farm.
Agriculture is a huge Michigan industry. One in four Michigan jobs are connected to the food system in some way. Protecting these farms helps ensure future generations are able to continue the family farming tradition.
In terms of funding secured and acres of farmland preserved, the Kent County Purchase of Development Rights Program is one of the best in the state. Developed in 2002, its goal was to protect 25,000 acres of rare and prime farms. Its objectives include:
- Maintain a long-term business environment for agriculture;
- Preserve the rural character and scenic attributes of the county;
- Enhance important environmental benefits
- Maintain the quality of life of county residents
The program has raised over $3.5 million, with $1.6 million in USDA Farm and Ranch Land Protection program grants. Over 1,500 acres and 13 farms have been preserved to date.
For more information regarding the Kent County Purchase of Development Rights Program, please visit their website.