The Maine 2021 legislative session has ended, but we are pleased to report that many…
Maine Farmland Trust (MFT) has a new leader to help advance the future of farming in Maine. Amy Fisher assumed the role of President and CEO on August 23.
Fisher brings significant leadership experience to the role having served for the last seven years as Executive Director of the foundation for the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), an organization known for advancing sustainable shellfish aquaculture worldwide and providing research, innovation, and extension services to support the sustainable marine industries important to protecting the landscape and character of the Chesapeake Bay region. At VIMS Amy led a record-breaking fundraising campaign to launch a new institute-wide sustainable shellfish aquaculture initiative, created an innovation strategy and fund to spur exploration of creative solutions to marine challenges, established more than thirty fellowships to help students fund their educations in marine science, and advanced work to address marine plastic pollution, toxics, and community resilience in the face of recurrent flooding and rising sea levels.
Prior to joining VIMS, Amy was based in New England, with roles at Boston University, Simmons University, and St. Francis House. She led the Center for Environmental Citizenship’s electoral skills training and organizing efforts, including on campuses and ballot initiative campaigns in Maine. She is a graduate of Bates College, holds an MBA from Boston University, and is enthusiastic to return to Maine.
“MFT’s board of directors enthusiastically welcomes Amy Fisher as our next leader,” said board chair Meredith Eilers, co-owner of Blue Bell Farm in Bowdoinham. “Her mix of strengths in organizational leadership, fundraising, organizing and working in collaboration with diverse communities on environmental issues is a great match for Maine’s vibrant farm community.”
Founded by farmers and farm advocates in 1999, MFT is a pioneering statewide organization that advances farming in Maine by protecting farmland and supporting farmers to access land and grow thriving farm businesses.
“I’m very excited to bring my experience working with environmental communities back to Maine,” said Fisher. “Maine has an incredible ecosystem of support for its farmers and landscapes, and together we have a unique opportunity to grow a thriving food and farm system that can feed Maine, and make our region more resilient.”
MFT envisions a future where farms feed Maine’s economy, steward our natural resources, increase climate resilience, and nourish our communities. The organization is powered by thousands of members and supporters who are passionate about the potential of agriculture in Maine.
A dedicated team of 30 staff and 15 board members carry out the organization’s programs to protect farmland, get farmers on the land, support farmers with the tools they need to grow their businesses, and advocate for policies that work for Maine farms. Since its founding over 20 years ago, MFT’s work has helped to keep over 60,000 acres of farmland in farming, and provided over 800 farm families with critical services, like business planning.
“MFT’s programs exist because Maine has such a dedicated community engaged in the important work of growing a more healthful and economically viable farm and food system. I’m confident that Amy will continue to strengthen our programs for the benefit of Maine farmers and farmland, and our state’s future,” said Steve Page, a founding board member of MFT, farmer, and entrepreneur.
Fisher sees a tremendous opportunity in Maine for MFT at this critical moment in time: “Maine has a new state climate action plan. We have new legislation coming out of DC that may be advantageous. We have a lot of movement into Maine and attention on Maine thanks to its handling of COVID-19. We have a generational farmland transfer underway. The landscape is changing, and MFT is well positioned to leverage these opportunities for the benefit of all Mainers.”
As Amy Fisher steps in to her new role, she plans to spend as much time as possible meeting with farmers, partners, and MFT members throughout the state.