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      Growing controversy surrounding Gwinn farm

      Since 2003, one Gwinn family has used their farm to live off the land.

      At Shady Grove Farm in Gwinn, he and his wife produce everything from eggs, to vegetables, even sheep's wool. But the Buchler's time spent working on the farm may come to an end with an impending lawsuit with Forsyth Township.

      "Due to the fact that we live in a lake residential district, they were telling us that livestock was not permissable or conditional use in this zoned district," explained Buchler.

      The Shady Grove Farm is home to 8 sheep and over 100 chickens, and the Buchlers maintain, through proper environmental stewardship, there have been no adverse affects on the environment.

      In 2009, the Buchlers we're first notified their farm violated zoning laws along the highly coveted Johnson Lake property. For the past three years, the Buchlers have been negotiating with Forsyth Township to reach an agreement.

      "We have no problem with their operation, except for its location," said Kevin Koch, an attorney representing Forsyth Township.

      Recently, the Buchlers' farm received state certification for proper farming practices, and now they say Shady Grove is protected by state law.

      "In 1999, the state legislature amended Michigan's Right to Farm Act to explicitly state that local units of government cannot do things like zone out farming," said Michelle Halley, an attorney representing the Buchlers.

      "The Right to Farm Act does not say that," Koch countered. "The Right to Farm Act incorporates zoning."

      The Buchlers have received support from farmers across the country following the release of a sympathetic Youtube documentary .

      "If we can all get together and change these policies for local towns and cities to allow small family farms to happen, we can create local food systems everywhere," Buchler said.

      Meantime, Koch says the case will be fought in court, not on television.

      The case is expected to go before a judge next Tuesday.