December 13, 2012

State flags at half-staff for Libby

Morning Sentinel Staff

AUGUSTA -- Gov. Paul LePage has ordered that the Maine state flag be flown at half-staff Saturday in Mount Vernon remembrance of Russell Libby, the tireless organic farming advocate.

Libby, 56, of Mount Vernon, died Sunday at home after a battle with cancer. He was the executive director of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association for 17 years.

The governor's order directs flags to be flown at half-staff within the town limits of Mount Vernon from sunrise to sunset on Saturday. The U.S. flag still remains at full-staff, the governor's office said.

"Russell Libby has been Maine's small farm and organic farming champion," LePage said in a statement. "His vision has influenced virtually every aspect of our agricultural industry from farm to table. All of us who enjoy Maine's bountiful harvests will remember his contributions and leadership."

Libby was also a Maine Department of Agriculture official. His advocacy for organic farming was considered crucial to Congress changing the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 to make it easier for organic farmer to comply with food regulations.

LePage's order was issued the same day that Libby's obituary ran in the New York Times.

Meanwhile, MOFGA said Thursday that it would host a celebratory gathering in memory of Libby from 2 to 4 p.m. Jan. 6 in the Exhibition Hall of MOFGA's Common Ground Education Center in Unity. Refreshments will be served at 3.

Libby's family also is hosting a memorial service at the Mount Vernon Elementary School at 11 a.m. Saturday.

MOFGA also said that one of Libby's goals was to establish an endowment large enough to ensure MOFGA's long-term success. The organization said people may contribute to the Russell Libby Memorial Fund to accomplish that goal. Checks may be made payable to MOFGA with "Russell Libby Memorial Fund" in the memo line, and mailed to P.O. Box 170, Unity, ME 04988.

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