Traverse City News and Events

For Sale: The Headwaters Of The Boardman River

By Beth Milligan | Oct. 13, 2020

Two decades ago, Susan Morely and Donald Russell followed a calling that brought them from Maryland to northern Michigan, a place where they’d never lived, and a place they didn’t know.

They were looking for land that would connect them to the earth, physically and spiritually, so that they could carry on an ecumenical ministry to teach peace and ecology. And they were on a budget. The land would be purchased through the nonprofit they worked for, and funds were limited. They wanted water but assumed they couldn’t afford it.

Then they found a 26-acre property in eastern Kalkaska County that met all of their needs — it encompassed deep woods, fertile land, and the headwaters of the Boardman River, which bubbled up only a few hundred feet from the house where they would live and from where they would run their ministry and nature school and peace institute. They called the place Primavera, the Italian word for spring.

That was in 2001. Today Morely is 74, and Russell is 91. It’s time for them to sell their beloved sanctuary, but they’re not interested in slapping up a for-sale sign near the road and going for the highest offer. Instead, in the spring of 2019, they formed a committee — they call it a “circle of possibilities” — and they’ve explored selling the property in a way that would attract like-minded buyers. Given the depth of connection the couple feels for this place, there’s little doubt that selling it will be a real estate transaction that’s anywhere near ordinary.

Read more about the property and the intriguing process Morely and Russell are using to find its next owner in this week’s Northern Express, sister publication of The Ticker. The Northern Express is available to read online, or pick up a free copy at newsstand locations in 14 counties across northern Michigan.

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