Misty Valley Farm: A Place to Call Home
As a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee geography professor, Paul Lydolph shared his love of the land with his students. And now as the owner of Misty Valley Farm, he and his wife Mary can share the benefits of a permanently conserved farm with neighbors, family and friends in Sheboygan County.
In the 1970s, the Lydolphs were looking for a summer and weekend get-a-way home, when they found a permanent one: a 160-acre farm on a rolling glacial landscape. Misty Valley Farm includes fields, a rare bog complex, woodlands, remnant prairie, wetlands and a steep-sided valley.
The couple moved into their new farm and began producing food on their land, raising sheep, keeping a horse, chickens and a milk cow. Soon, their farm products began to benefit neighbors and friends with maple sugar, fresh eggs, milk and produce from a bountiful two-acre garden.
“It became a side business without even trying!” said Mary. And when the opportunity rose to expand, the couple seized it, by purchasing adjacent land and increasing their property size to 235.5 acres.
Along with running their hobby farm, over the years the Lydolphs managed and conserved their beloved landscape by planting trees and enrolling areas in the USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program.
Although the Lydolphs have stopped working on and off the farm, they wanted to ensure that Misty Valley Farm would never be subdivided and re-developed. “We are thrilled that our first easement in 1999 is reaping dividends since it inspired the Lydolphs to preserve their property with Glacial Lakes Conservancy,” said director Vickie Hall, “which now represents our largest project to date.”
The easement provides for no future development outside the 4-acre zone of the farmstead’s buildings, but does allow for new or replacement structures needed to keep a farm business viable at the site. For instance, structures that might be needed for a subscription farm, greenhouse, or its on-site energy needs, like solar panels.
Finally, along with donating the easement for GLC to hold, the Lydolphs also made another important donation — a significant contribution to GLC’s Land Protection Fund, which finances the work of the Conservancy’s easement monitoring, stewardship and legal defense.
Photo by Marjean Pountain
Conservation Champions: GLC’s Vickie Hall with Pam Garton (Mary V. Garton easement, 2005), Board member Dale Voskuil (Allan Voskuil Wildlife Preserve easement, 2007), honoree Mary Lydolph, and Vicki Banghart (Point Elkhart easement, 2002).
Published September 8, 2010