Editorial: Farewell to a brother in farms

Posted Tuesday, December 11, 2012 in Opinion

Editorial: Farewell to a brother in farms

Russell Libby, age way too young, died on Sunday of cancer. 

Russell, only aged 56, was longtime head of the Maine Organic Gardeners and Farmers Association, or MOFGA.  He was scheduled to appear, as was his wont, at the keynote speech of the Common Ground Fair in September.  He didn't.  And we knew then something was terribly wrong.

Russell was funny, gentle, charming, and wise.  His enthusiasm for the organic farming movement in Maine was absolutely infectious, and his leadership made MOFGA the preeminent organic farming organization in the country.

He also cared about plant varieties the way that many environmentalists care about endangered animals.  Russ spent a lot of his time bringing heirloom apples, tomatoes, and grain crops back to Maine.

Without him, the farmer's markets that today can be found, in some cases year-round, all over the state would never have become the staples they are.

Russell believed in growing your own, or failing that, knowing the people who grow your food for you.  He famously said that if we spend ten dollars a week buying local produce and locally made goods, we can change our communities for the better, and agriculture for the better.

Under his leadership, MOFGA moved into its permanent Unity home, where it can work year-round for the cause of locally grown, organic fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat. 

Russell will be missed desperately, but the organization he nurtured will continue as his legacy.  A memorial service will be held on Saturday at Mt. Vernon Elementary School at 11 a.m.  Another memorial will be held later at MOFGA, and we'll let you know when it is scheduled.

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