Organic farmers mourn death of longtime leader

Dec 10, 2012
Source: Maine Farmland Trust Russell Libby

The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association announces, with great sadness, the death of its beloved leader Russell Libby, 56, following a long struggle with cancer. He passed away peacefully among his family at his home this morning in Mount Vernon, Maine.

Russell lent his extraordinary leadership skills to MOFGA for almost 30 years. He served on the Board of Directors for a decade before becoming its long-serving Executive Director in 1995. He held that position until Nov. 2 of this year, when he assumed the title of Senior Policy Adviser. In that role he continued to guide the association with his characteristic wisdom, compassion and dedication, even as his health failed.

Prudently, he took many steps to ensure MOFGA’s course would remain steady in the time to come. A search for a new Executive Director is set to begin on Jan. 1, 2013. MOFGA is currently under the guidance of Heather Spalding, who has worked closely with Russell since 1997.

“We are saddened beyond words by Russell’s passing, but we are grateful for the legacy he has given us,” said MOFGA Board President Barbara Damrosch. “MOFGA has always been a vibrant organization that, through educational and policy work, has advanced the cause of safe, healthful food in Maine and championed the farmers and gardeners who grow it. Russell nurtured MOFGA to the point where its membership now exceeds that of any other state organic group. New farmers look to Maine for encouragement and inspiration.”

A memorial service will take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15, at the Mount Vernon Elementary School. At a later date, yet to be determined, the association will host a gathering in honor of Russell in the Exhibition Hall at the Common Ground Education in Unity.

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