Farm stands are a common sight along M-22 but none have been such an enduring sign of fresh produce as the pale yellow roadside stand near Little Traverse Lake. For more than a half century, Sonny Swanson stocked that hut with strawberries, sweet corn, tomatoes, pumpkins and whatever else he nurtured from the rich soil of his adjacent farm and in the process became one of the most beloved farmers on the Leelanau Peninsula.
Swanson died in 2008 at age 89 and a year later the Leelanau Conservancy was already committed to preserving the farm and one of the largest stretches of undeveloped shorelines remaining along Little Traverse Lake. The fundraising effort resulted in the conservancy purchasing 96 acres from Swanson’s sons in 2010.
Within that tract, Swanson Preserve covers 83 acres and includes more than 2,000 feet of natural wooded shoreline near the east end of Little Traverse Lake, the fragile wetlands that are critical to the lake’s high water quality and a 162-foot high ridge on the south side of M-22.
Most of the preserve is heavily wooded and open to the public. Access is primarily from a short trail system that leads through woods and wetlands to the shores of the 640-acre lake.
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