The Kruithoff family has raised hogs, beef cattle and crops in Kent and Ottawa counties in Michigan for 50 years.
Tim Kruithoff started farming with his father 29 years ago. He is joined by his wife, Christine, and two of their three children also farm full time with them. And now the Kruithoffs have made certain their grandchildren, great-grandchildren and beyond will have that same opportunity.
On July 27, they permanently protected 148 acres from development in Wright and Chester townships in Ottawa County.
The Kruithoffs are the third multigenerational farming family to protect their land through Ottawa County’s Purchase of Development Rights program. This program uses a combination of state or federal grant funding, private donations and landowner contributions to purchase the development rights to farmland, creating a permanent agricultural conservation easement. The Kruithoff easement brings the total number of acres protected by the PDR program to 238.
Courtesy of Ottawa County
KRUITHOFF FAMILY: Three generations of the Kruithoff family celebrate protecting 148 acres of their farmland.
“Preserving farmland with Ottawa County ensures land protection and local food security for generations,” says Becky Huttenga, Ottawa County economic development coordinator. “And the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of local food supply chains. In the face of crises, we need our farms.”
By August, with the help of a grant from the Michigan Agriculture Preservation Fund, the county will also be adding a 168-acre parcel to its list of protected farms. To better visualize the program’s expanding collection of protected agricultural land, the county has created a virtual tour at https://storymaps.arcgis.com.
Ottawa County’s farmland protection program is about more than just permanently protecting acreage. The county’s farmland preservation specialists strengthen the program by addressing beginner farmer needs, increasing succession planning efforts and employing numerous other programmatic efforts.
These efforts have been noticed, landing Ottawa County on the National Agricultural Land Network’s Advisory Committee. The National Agricultural Land Network is an initiative of American Farmland Trust and strives to further strengthen the collective capacity of public agencies, planning entities and land trusts working to protect agricultural land.
“Ottawa County’s continued success in farmland preservation is a testament to the strength of its PDR program and understanding the needs of farmers in the county,” says Cris Coffin, AFT’s National Agricultural Land Network director and senior policy adviser. “We’re ecstatic to have this team aboard, helping to guide the network’s programming on a state and national level.”
Being a part of the advisory committee will bring a myriad of professional development opportunities, Huttenga says, including shared development and input for resource materials, and will help the county’s robust PDR program continue to improve and even influence initiatives statewide and nationally.