Russell planted his first garden after getting free seeds at the end of fourth grade. His involvement with MOFGA started at the first Common Ground Country Fair in 1977 where he saw a connection between local, organic food and a strong Maine economy. He began participating in the Consortium for Maine Food Self-Reliance in 1979, and joined the MOFGA Board of Directors in 1983. After a dozen years on the Board, including two years as President, Russell became Executive Director in 1995. He has led MOFGA’s growth over the past decade as the organization moved to the new Common Ground Education Center in Unity, expanded the Agricultural Services and Education programs, and created a subsidiary to run the Certification program.
Russell has a wide range of agricultural affiliations, including 10 years as Research Director at the Maine Department of Agriculture. He currently serves on the boards of: the Agricultural Council of Maine; the University of Maine Board of Agriculture; Maine Farmland Trust; Eat Local Foods Coalition; National Organic Coalition; and FEDCO Seeds.
He has a degree in economics from Bowdoin College and a Master’s in resource economics from the University of Maine. With his wife, Mary Anne, and 3 daughters, he operates Three Sisters Farm (a small diversified farm) in Mount Vernon. He served three years on the School Board, currently chairs the Comprehensive Plan Committee, and serves as a Selectman. He also writes poetry in his spare time. His first book, Balance: A Late Pastoral, was published in 2007.