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August 24, 2021

New farmland trust chief brings fundraising experience

person posing and brick wall Courtesy / Maine Farmland Trust Amy Fisher is the new president and CEO of Maine Farmland Trust.

The new president and CEO of Maine Farmland Trust brings record-breaking fundraising experience in the marine industries around Chesapeake Bay.

Amy Fisher took the reins at the statewide farming organization on Monday. She plans to spend as much time as possible meeting with farmers, partners and trust members throughout the state, according to a news release.

“Maine has a new state climate action plan,” Fisher said in the release. “We have new legislation coming out of D.C. 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.” 

Maine Farmland Trust is a statewide, member-powered nonprofit that works to protect farmland, support farming, and advance the future for farming in Maine. 

Fisher will replace LouAnna Perkins and Kristin Varnum, who have served as interim co-presidents for the past year and are looking forward to return to their previous roles as the trust’s senior legal counsel and CFO, respectively. They were preceded by Bill Toomey, who held the position about a year.

Fisher will be the trust's fifth president and CEO

Fisher’s leadership experience includes serving for the last seven years as executive director of the foundation for the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, an organization that aims to advance sustainable shellfish aquaculture worldwide and provide research, innovation and extension services to support the sustainable marine industries in the Chesapeake Bay region.

At VIMS, Fisher 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, and established more than 30 fellowships to help students fund their educations in marine science. She also advanced work to address marine plastic pollution, toxics, and community resilience in the face of recurrent flooding and rising sea levels, according to the release.  

“I’m very excited to bring my experience working with environmental community back to Maine,” Fisher said. “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.”  

Before joining VIMS, Fisher 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 and holds an MBA from Boston University.

“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,” said Meredith Eilers, Maine Farmland Trust board chair and co-owner of Blue Bell Farm in Bowdoinham.

Since its founding in 1999, the trust has helped to keep over 60,000 acres of farmland in the farming industry, and provided over 800 farm families with critical services like business planning. The trust has 30 staff and 15 board members

“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,” said Steve Page, a founding board member, farmer and entrepreneur. “I’m confident that Amy will continue to strengthen our programs for the benefit of Maine farmers and farmland, and our state’s future.”

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