BELFAST, Maine — Maine Farmland Trust announced Thursday that Marla O’Byrne of Southwest Harbor will join the organization as its new senior manager, starting in October. O’Byrne will be responsible for helping executive director John Piotti guide the Trust to the next level of impact and success.
Maine Farmland Trust is an award-winning non-profit that protects farmland, supports farmers, and advances the future of farming in Maine. Formed in 1999, the Trust has grown rapidly in the past five years—protecting over 27,000 acres of farmland, supporting over 425 farm families, and increasing its membership from about 400 to over 4,000 households.
“We’re at a point in our development where we need someone with the skills of Marla O’Byrne,” explained Piotti, who took over as executive director in 2006.
For the past year, O’Byrne has worked as a non-profit consultant focusing on fundraising, strategic planning, and organizational development for several Maine clients. Before that, she served Friends of Acadia for 16 years, including five years successfully leading that organization as its president. She previously worked with Maine Coast Heritage Trust. O’Bryne grew up in a small farming community in North Dakota.
“Marla [O’Byrne] has the full package. She’s a proven manager and a creative problem-solver who understands conservation and is passionate about farming,” said Piotti.
According to Piotti, farming in Maine is now growing after years of decline, and is well-positioned for a bright future. But that future is not assured.
“The next few years are critical, in part because of economic realities, but also because so much Maine farmland will be in transition, simply due to the age of the farmland owners,” explained Piotti. “Maine Farmland Trust’s work has always been important, but it’s become critical to the future of farming here in Maine,” he added.
I feel fortunate to be joining the staff of Maine Farmland Trust,” said O’Byrne. “It has a big vision, a talented staff and leadership, and a mission that is personally important to me.”