Nearly $20,000 raised for farmland preservation
Close to 100 people showed their support for farmland preservation on Thursday, Sept. 30, at Ottawa County’s fifth-annual Farms are the Tapas fundraising dinner and silent auction at Terra Square in Hudsonville, Mich.
This year, chefs representing five area restaurants all created unique small plate dishes with locally raised ingredients for a chance at the coveted Harvest Knife award.
Competitors served up strong entries, including: pulled bacon sliders from Waverly Stone; steak baja cups from CityVu Events; braised beef tongue on a toasted baguette from Field & Fire; beef tenderloin braciloi street taco from StrEATs Taco Kitchen; and pulled pork egg rolls from The Farmhouse of Zeeland. It was a close contest, and it came down to the last few minutes of voting, but ultimately Farmhouse was the victor for the second-consecutive year.
“With unique ingredients such as beef tongue, our competing chefs served up variety,” said Ottawa County Farmland Preservation Specialist and event organizer Julie Lamer. “We are grateful such talented people prepare these signature dishes in the name of farmland preservation.”
To extend the reach of Farms are the Tapas and offer a remote option for supporting farmland preservation, Ottawa County ran the auction virtually.
“Virtual bidding proved to be popular again this year,” said Lamer. “Because we opened the silent auction three days ahead of time, we had aggressive bidding before the event even started!”
This year, the Farms are the Tapas silent auction featured 15 items, including perennial favorites such as a sunset cruise, 50 pound beef packages, as well as more unique items such as cookbooks and fine art by local creative talent. All together the silent auction raised nearly $3,000.
Including the auction items, sponsor support, and ticket sales, almost $20,000 was raised for Farmland Preservation. But Farms are the Tapas isn’t just about fundraising.
“It’s all about visibility. Events like Farms are the Tapas put the Farmland Preservation Program on the public radar,” said Economic Development Coordinator Becky Huttenga. “Many people don’t realize how much farmland is being lost year-over-year in this County, or that there is a mechanism in place to protect it.”
About the Ottawa County Farmland Preservation Program
With area farmers producing more than $506 million in products annually (2017 Ag Census), Ottawa County is an agricultural powerhouse. Ottawa is also the fastest growing county in the state and has a low unemployment rate. But this positive growth comes at a cost to agriculture: between 2012 and 2017, Ottawa County lost 8% of its farmed acreage and 17% of its farms. Ottawa County’s Farmland Preservation Program seeks to protect this vital industry and slow the loss of farms and farmland through programmatic efforts, including the Purchase of Development Rights Program.
Funded through a combination of private donations and state and federal grants, the PDR program preserves farmland through the purchase and donation of development rights for actively farmed property. This voluntary program allows participating landowners to receive compensation for the development potential of their land, yet still retain ownership and other rights associated with it through a permanent easement.
To learn more, visit MiOttawa.org/Farmland.