In Memoriam: Kevin Brussell

(Reprinted from MOSES)

Kevin Brussell, 56, a long time organic activist, researcher and working organic farmer, was tragically killed on Saturday, June 11.

Kevin’s clear vision, energy and calm demeanor have been present at many organic conferences and educational events around the U.S. for decades. Kevin was the superintendent of Organic Dairy Research at the University of New Hampshire, overseeing the first working organic dairy farm at a land grant University. Through the Midwest Organic Farmers Cooperative, under OFARM (Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing), Kevin provided leadership in the volatile area of organic commodity crop production and sales. Kevin received the Spirit of Organic Award from the Organic Trade Association in 2008, recognizing his broad influence on the expansion of organic agriculture.

Kevin Brussell had thirty years of organic production experience on his family’s fifth generation grain and livestock farm in southeastern Illinois. In 1978, as a representative/dealer for the Wonder Life Corporation, he raised his first crop of organic soybeans. Finding little resource support for organic agriculture when he began, he attended many biological farming workshops and conducted extensive production research experiments on his own farm.

Kevin took leadership roles with the Illinois Sustainable Agricultural Society, the Southeastern Illinois Sustainable Agriculture Association, the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, and the Midwest Sustainable Agriculture Working Group. He served as president of Ag Organics. He also helped coordinate on-farm research and demonstration projects with the University of Illinois Agro Ecology Program, and was a part of the research committee for the Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research (CFAR), and co-chair of the CFAR Rural Economic Development working group.

Promoting crop diversity, Kevin helped to establish and was elected president of the Buckwheat Growers of Illinois and the Illinois Wheat Growers Association. As founding board member of the Illinois Chapter of the Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA), he served on, and chaired, the certification committee. He became a certified organic farm and processing inspector, and has taught “Transitioning to Organics” seminars at major organic conferences across the country. Kevin provided impetus for the formation of the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Association (NODPA), then served as a non-producer board member for that organization.

Kevin had an infectious enthusiasm for organics and enjoyed sharing his knowledge. He put his heart and soul into helping others to be successful, and he will be missed throughout the organic community. At the 2012 MOSES Organic Farming Conference, there will be a celebration honoring Kevin’s life.

Kevin’s wife, Juli, has established a scholarship fund in memory of her husband. The scholarship fund will support beginning organic farmers. Mail donations to: MOSES, PO Box 339, Spring Valley,WI 54767 or donate online. For more information about the scholarship fund, contact Faye Jones or Nancy Frank at MOSES, (715) 778-5775.