“Fate” Brought Us to Leelanau

From our 2008 Fall Newsletter

When Bart and Gail Ingraham returned from the Peace Corps in 1974, they began a lengthy job hunt. Their search began in Denver, led to Bart’s hometown of Rockford, and on to an interview at Timber Shores Resort in Northport. They ultimately accepted jobs in Traverse City. “Renting the upstairs of one of the beautiful Sixth Street houses lasted about six months,” Gail writes. “We had no place to do all of our hobbies, and we were tired of boxes.”

Having been a “city girl,” Gail loved Bart’s old family home: a country farmhouse. So when their Realtor took them to a 100-year old farmhouse on two acres in Leelanau County, “I told him I would take it before we drove into the driveway!” They decided not to move again and threw away their boxes.

A love story with Leelanau County was well underway: “The more we got to see and know about Leelanau, we realized how blessed we were to have been led here,” Gail writes. “The lakes, the forests, the orchards and farms, the cross-country skiing out your back door, the open space, the charming villages with no big box stores or chain restaurants, the proximity of so many varied and quality cultural opportunities, the night sky dark enough to see millions of stars, the climate, the peace and quiet… Leelanau wins hands down. We travel quite a bit, and have never found a place we would rather be.”

Over time, the Ingraham’s two acres became Bellwether Gardens, with a perennial and shrub nursery, many display gardens, and a garden shop.  They have been making “Black Gold” compost, and designing and planting gardens for 24 years now.

“As our farmhouse in the country was surrounded by housing developments, we got scared that this could happen to the whole county,” explains Gail. “We were thrilled to learn about the Conservancy and its mission. We joined immediately, and started volunteering.”

“Over the years,” she continues, “we have been amazed at the effectiveness of the Leelanau Conservancy. We know of very few organizations that accomplish so much year after year. All of the above made it easy for us to include the Leelanau Conservancy in our estate planning. Since we don’t have children, we chose to share our assets with those who will keep on working to protect the things we love most.” Thank you, Gail and Bart!