Judith Fuller Gillan, 82, died unexpectedly Sunday, May 24, 2020 at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, MA.
Judith was born in Westfield, MA on May 24, 1938 to William A. and Virginia S. Fuller. She graduated from The Masters School, Dobbs Ferry, NY and Smith College, Northampton, MA, with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Sciences and Clinical Psychology. Judy was active in small farm and organic foods development work, and her passion for the land and farming was unequaled. She established The New England Small Farm Institute (NESFI), Belchertown, MA, in 1978 as a nonprofit and began negotiating with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for use and control of approximately 400 acres of the Belchertown State School farmstead. Those negotiations were in fact ongoing at the time of her passing. She was instrumental in raising awareness about the challenges faced by beginning farmers and advocated for them in multiple policy venues, including several farm bills. Under her leadership NESFI received a $1.5m grant from USDA to develop a Northeast-wide beginner farmer training network. Judy's main passion was the NESFI land which she named Lampson Brook Agricultural Reserve. She prioritized land stewardship, conservation and sustainable farming. She was an early pioneer in the organic agricultural movement, starting the Organic Food Production Association of North America (OFPANA), an early precursor to the Organic Trade Association and all that followed. To family, friends and colleagues, Judy was known and loved as a true visionary and a mentor of people and bold ideas, who saw the opportunity in every situation. Judy had an incredible intellect and was a voracious reader and a continuous learner, who was comfortable and engaged by any subject. Finally, Judy was always one to celebrate the small things in life, she lived simply and loved few things more than to curl up with a good book, for a "two cat night". Her guidance, wisdom and wicked sense of humor will be missed by all who knew and worked with her. Judith is survived by her children: Clarissa G. Gillan of So. Hadley; Kate G. Nugent and her husband Edward J. Nugent of Madison, CT, and Susan S. Gillan of Shelburne Falls. She was the grandmother of Wilson E. Bak, Mathias H. Bak, Abigail R. Nugent and Caleb F. Nugent. She was predeceased in 2011 by her partner J. Arnold Voehringer and sister Susan F. Jerome in 2002. A private family internment will be held in the Fuller family plot in Pine Hill Cemetery in Westfield. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in the memory of Judith F. Gillan to The New England Small Farm Institute, P.O. Box 937, 275 Jackson St., Belchertown, MA 01007.
Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on May 27, 2020.