Farmland Protection in Ottawa County Gains Traction and Acres

Farm Where You Belong

July 29, 2020

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For immediate release

Media contact: Becky Huttenga | | 616.738.4852

Farmland Protection in Ottawa County Gains Traction and Acres

WEST OLIVE — The Kruithoff family has raised hogs, beef cattle, and crops in Kent and Ottawa Counties for 50 years. Tim Kruithoff started farming with his father 29 years ago, joined by his wife Christine, and now two of their three children also farm full time with them. And the Kruithoffs have made certain their grandkids, great-grandkids, and beyond will have that same opportunity – on July 27, 2020, they permanently protected 148 acres 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 (PDR) program. This program uses a combination of state and/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.

“Preserving farmland with Ottawa County ensures land protection and local food security for generations,” said Economic Development Coordinator Becky Huttenga. “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 here.

National impact

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 employ 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,” said American Farmland Trust National Agricultural Land Network Director and Senior Policy Advisor Cris Coffin. “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,  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.

To learn more about the PDR program, how to protect your farmland, and more, visit or contact or 616-738-4852.

Kruithoff Family

Three generations of the Kruithoff family relish the moment they officially protected 148 acres of their farmland. [Ottawa County photo]