Judith F. Gillan
1938 - 2020
Beers & Story Funeral Home - Belchertown
10 Maple Street
Belchertown, MA
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 by Daily Hampshire Gazette on May 27, 2020.
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Beers & Story Funeral Home - Belchertown
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In 1966, Judy hired me to babysit for her three girls for the summer. She was more than an employer, she was a friend. She helped that young girl build self-esteem and showed immeasurable kindness. Plus she was such fun. We’d play with the girls’ Sasha dolls after they’d gone to bed. I went to her summer home on Lake Garfield in Monterey with the family for a few weeks. Judy insisted that I spend my final paycheck on new clothes. She took me to Talbots in Lenox, creating a life-long Talbots shopper. I have thought about Judy and her girls many times over the years. Those times with Judy, Susie, Chrissy and Katie are such happy memories. I am saddened to hear of Judy’s passing. I send my love to the girls and to their families.
Janet LeBeau Hill
October 10, 2020
Judy symbolizes the emergence of 20th century women who were accepted as entrepreneurs and founders of essential organizations. NESFI lives because of her vision. I was honored to know her.
Beth Thomson
June 3, 2020
Judy made many contributions to statewide agricultural development beginning in the mid-70's, through the launching of MassFAC in the 80's, and continuing through the many state programs managed by MassDAR today. May she rest in peace and may her legacy prosper.
Michael Scully
May 31, 2020
Her generosity and humor will always be with me.
Greg D'Unger
May 28, 2020
I first met Judy in 1978 when I worked at the Massachusetts Department of Food & Agriculture. She was a key cog in the Massachusetts Food & Agriculture Coalition (MassFAC) that brought together farmers, consumers and urban gardeners to lobby for legislation on Beacon Hill in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Judy's legacy will be the New England Small Farm Institute which did so much over the years to help young and new-entry farmers. Hers was a life well lived!
Matt L. Barron
May 28, 2020
What an amazing person and mentor to so many, myself included.
Alice Posner
May 27, 2020
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