MOUNT VERNON -- Russell Wayne Libby died on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012. He was born Aug. 16, 1956, in Lincoln, the eldest son of Ronald and Sandra (McCormick) Libby.

Russell spent most of his childhood in Sorrento, where he spent much of his time in the woods surrounding his home, bird watching and teaching himself about the woodlands of Maine. The woods and individual trees around him were a lifelong interest for him. He planted his first garden after receiving seeds from his fourth-grade teacher, raked blueberries from the field below his home, caddied at the local golf course and read every book at his school before moving on to Sumner High School, where he graduated in 1974, the president of his class. Russell then attended Bowdoin College, graduating in 1978 with a degree in economics, and later earned his master's degree in resource economics from the University of Maine.

Russell worked throughout his adult life to strengthen Maine's economy through the growth of a local organic food system. He first worked on the economic issues facing Maine as a researcher for the National Center for Economic Alternatives in Augusta. He worked 10 years at the Maine Department of Agriculture. At home, he worked out how much money would stay within the local economy of Mount Vernon by figuring what would happen if each household spent $10 per week on locally produced food and goods, and throughout his life he often gave talks about the concept of "Ten Dollars a Week." Russell was on the board of Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association from 1983 to 1995 and then served as the executive director at MOFGA from 1995 to 2012. During his 18 years of leadership, Russell oversaw the organization's move to the Common Ground Education Center in Unity and the growth of its programming and of organic farming in general throughout the state of Maine. His work at MOFGA inspired him, and he was dedicated to this creative organization.

He served his community in a variety of ways, both on the boards of many nonprofits around the state; and, in his town of Mount Vernon, on the ordinance review board, the school board, and the Board of Selectmen. Russell spent his time at home working on Three Sisters Farm in Mount Vernon, where he loved to plant apple trees and encourage his daughters to help weed the garden. He wrote poetry and gave a small booklet to his family and friends each Christmas. His poems are also published in multiple magazines and a 2007 book titled "Balance: A Pastoral."

Russell is survived by his wife, Mary Anne Libby; and his three daughters, Anna Libby, of Orono, Margaret Libby, of Mount Vernon, and Rosa Libby, of Portland. Russell is also survived by his parents, Ronald and Sandra, of Sorrento; his siblings, Pamela Fowler and husband Darrell Fowler, of Brooksville, Chris Libby and wife Mary Libby, of Hancock, Ronda Nichols and husband Jim Nichols, of Stockton Springs; nieces and nephews Eric Hutchins and wife Erin Hutchins, Ryan Hutchins and wife Amanda Hutchins, Maria and Charles Libby, and Angelina, William and Kyle Nichols; as well as two grandnieces, Ella and Layla.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Dec. 15 at 11 a.m. at Mount Vernon Elementary School, 1507 North Road in Mount Vernon, with a potluck meal immediately following. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Mount Vernon Food Bank, checks payable to Mount Vernon Food Bank, c/o Betty White, 539 Pond Road, Mount Vernon, ME 04352; or to the newly established Russell Libby Memorial Fund, checks payable to that fund, at MOFGA, P.O. Box 170, Unity, ME 04988.

Arrangements are by Mid Maine Cremation Services.

Published in Central Maine on Dec. 10, 2012