Connecting Landowners, Growers and Markets Using Purchase of Development Rights (PDR)

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2008: $20,900.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Project Coordinator:
Barry Lonik
Ann Arbor Township

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: cherries


  • Crop Production: irrigation
  • Education and Training: networking
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, community-supported agriculture, marketing management, farm-to-institution
  • Production Systems: transitioning to organic, organic agriculture, permaculture
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, partnerships, urban/rural integration

    Proposal abstract:

    Connecting Landowners, Growers and Markets Using Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) endeavors to connect the owners of smaller farmable properties in Ann Arbor Township (Michigan) with producers interested in small-scale agriculture to provide fresh produce and other commodities for markets in the Ann Arbor area and surrounding regions by utilizing the Township’s agricultural purchase of development rights program. The region has experienced rapid population growth and has a high demand for fresh produce. The high cost of land has been a barrier to the establishment of new agricultural enterprises to meet the demand.

    The project will identify and introduce landowners and farmers, establish relationships, develop business plans and establish operations to make land available and more affordable, and identify markets for produce. The project will produce a program brochure, develop a web page, outreach to interested groups, make conference presentations and hold on-site open houses. It will be evaluated by the number of acres involved in the program, the number of operations established and the increase of local produce grown and used. The Project Coordinator is Barry Lonik, a land protection consultant based in Washtenaw County.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The primary outcome of this project is to establish small farms producing for regional markets using purchase of development rights (PDR) to reduce land costs, improve farm profitability and preserve farmland in a near-urban setting.

    In the short term, the project will identify and introduce interested landowners and potential farmers to learn about opportunities to work together and establish small farming operations. In the intermediate term, those relationships will be established and farmers will be encouraged to seek guidance in formulating sound business plans to meet market demands. The long-term outcomes (third year and beyond) will be to have established several operations and to share the results and lessons of our work with others in the immediate region, before reaching out to southeast Michigan, the entire state and beyond.

    This project is being viewed as a demonstration for other communities interested in agricultural profitability, land use at the urban/rural interface and local food production. It is expected that new relationships will be created, small farm operations will be established, more local food and other produce will enter the marketplace and lessons will be learned to provide insight and establish the area as a center for innovative approaches to preserving farmland.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.