December 19, 2012

Celebration to honor the life and legacy of organic food advocate

By Avery Yale Kamila
Staff Writer

Russell Libby's passing last week after a long battle with cancer has been felt deeply throughout Maine's food and farming communities.

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Russell Libby, a leader of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association who died Dec. 9, is depicted in a portrait painted by Robert Shetterly

Courtesy photo



establish an endowment for the organization he led for so many years, gifts in Russell Libby’s memory may be made to the Russell Libby Memorial Fund, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, P.O. Box 170, Unity, ME 04988.

A tireless advocate for sustainable, organic agriculture, Libby was always willing to share his abundant knowledge with anyone who asked, from farm apprentices to U.S. senators.

To honor his legacy, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association will host a celebratory gathering in his memory from 2 to 4 p.m. Jan. 6. The event will take place in the Exhibition Hall at the Common Ground Education Center in Unity. Potluck refreshments will be served at 3 p.m.

Libby served as executive director of the association from 1995 until stepping down in October of this year. He also served on numerous boards, including the University of Maine Board of Agriculture and at the Maine Farmland Trust, the National Organic Coalition, FEDCO Seeds and Maine's Own Organic Milk Co.

In a portrait of Libby painted by Robert Shetterly, from his "Americans Who Tell the Truth" collection, Libby is quoted as saying: "We have to challenge the idea that contamination is just the price of living in the modern world. Our bodies don't have systems to process plastics or flame retardants or pesticides. If contamination is the price of modern society, modern society has failed us."

With any luck, the many people Libby inspired over the years will continue his work to ensure that modern society doesn't fail us. 

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at:

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila


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