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Fostering Sustainable Agriculture through Research, Education and Policy since 1984

Remembering Christopher Mann

For those of you who knew Christopher Mann you will understand when I tell you I am writing this Director’s blog with sadness in my heart following his passing last week. It was Christopher Mann along with his wife Martina and Ruth Zinniker who had the vision and drive to start Michael Fields Agriculture Institute (MFAI) and help build an organic community in the area surrounding East Troy, Wisconsin.

For the past 34 years Christopher Mann served MFAI as a founder, leader, mentor, teacher and above all else a great friend. It was his core belief in sustainable organic and biodynamic systems that helped start and continues to drive this organization and the lives of the people he considered part of his life as friends and family.

He led by example and was rare in his ability to spark an idea and then guide you to learn more and direct one’s self down a path of your choosing. He was an avid reader and would lend books, from his library, that gave you a better understanding of his life and philosophy. Above everything else, he was an excellent narrator when telling about his life and how it connected through others to build the communities that surrounded him. Even during the last year of his life, as Parkinson’s was taking a toll on his body, he continued to connect with new and old friends and always found a way to enrich our lives.

I only came to know Christopher during these past 12 months as MFAI’s Executive Director. I often wonder how he would have changed my life if I had been able to meet him 20 or so years ago. I do know I will miss our conversations about the history of MFAI, his life before moving to East Troy, our laughter about marriage to women of strong German heritage, but most of all our shared love of the land and how it sustains us and hopefully the generations to come.

MFAI Executive Director