Michigan Entrepreneurs Work to Preserve 51 Lakefront Acres in Leelanau County

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

Founded in 1988, the Leelanau Conservancy works to protect northern Michigan’s land and water and has preserved more than 13,000 acres, created 25 public natural areas, and more than 15 miles of public hiking trails.

Acquired by Chetcuti and Evans in 2016, the donated conservation easement is located on private land along Carlson Road and includes 360 feet of Lake Michigan frontage.

“By permanently preserving an historic farmstead — which also contains a scenic ridgeline overlooking Lake Michigan, a northern hardwood forest, a stream and a wetland corridor, Lake Michigan beach, and a forested bluff — (Chetcuti and Evans) are doing nothing short of changing the future of this cherished place for the better,” says Thomas Nelson, executive director of the Leelanau Conservancy.

“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.”

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.

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

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

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