Five generations of the Parsons family have harvested maple syrup from the trees, and hay from the fields, on their Centennial Farm on U.S. 31 in Charlevoix and Antrim counties in northern Michigan. The Little Traverse Conservancy has been working with two generations of the Parsons family to protect the property, known as the Harwood Gold Farm, by purchasing a conservation easement. This would protect the scenic view of the farm and forests as viewed from the highway.
Terri and Dave Parsons are transferring ownership of their beloved farm to daughter Amber and her husband Phill – who are taking the farm operation into the “value added” realm of agriculture by using the maple syrup produced on the land in other products such as barbecue sauce, chutney and farm-style ketchup. These products are sold both locally and on-line. This requires significant investment from the young farmers.
By selling a perpetual conservation easement on much of the farmstead to the Little Traverse Conservancy, with financial support from The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, the family converts important unused equity into funds that can be reinvested to more profitable farming activities. As a result, the land is protected forever to preserve the scenic view and will remain viable for farmers in the future. Closing on the easement will take place in May 2016.