We are very saddened to share that Gary Fisher has passed away. Gary and his wife Lois donated the easement of their Camelot Downs Farm to the Farmland Trust in 2010. The Fishers have dedicated their farm and their retirement years to cultivating and teaching about heritage breed animals through 4H, farm tours, and community involvement. Gary was passionate about educating the public about sustainable pasture management, holistic livestock health, and good stewardship.
Gary lived about 4 lives worth during his 75 years, and his story is a testament to the many, many other lives he touched, as well as the many adventures he led. At the Farmland Trust, we will fondly remember Gary as we knew him: in mud boots, showing us around his and Lois’ immaculate farm; gently interacting with their menagerie of animals with a twinkle in his eye and a smile.
We connect with all of our farmers from time to time, whether making a conservation monitoring visit, helping with a tour, or having conversations about easements or land matters. But there’s always been something special about a visit to Camelot Downs Farm. One knew that a trip out to the misty grounds of Camelot would hold the promise of not just Gary’s charming and knowledgeable orations about farming and the geographic history of Whidbey Island, but also of a home cooked lunch by Lois in their cozy home, and a full roster of Gary’s signature jokes.
Many of us have also had the experience of what’s always been an annual highlight: trekking out to Whidbey Island to see the baby lambs in spring. (You can read a more detailed account of one of these visits.) There, he and Lois’ dedication and charm was on fullest display—Lois quietly minding the sheep and their new lambs, and Gary ushering visitors and families around to each group of animals, pointing out amusing signs around the property. He also clearly delighted in sharing his unmatched skill in coming up with funny animal names and puns. (Ginny the Hinny, Tofu the Lamb, and Dolly Llama were all staff favorites.)
This week, we’ve enjoyed revisiting this wonderful video that features Gary, Lois, and the lovely sheep and other animals of Camelot Downs. Gary, in his own words, talks about the things that were most important to him about the farm, and the video captures a little of the magic of the place.
At the Farmland Trust, we’re very lucky to have many touchstones that will always remind us of Gary. Or, perhaps more accurately, we have a few ducks short of an army. Gary’s colorful handmade wooden birds are scattered throughout our downtown office, adorning windowsills, bookshelves and filing cabinets. Every time one of us visited the Fishers for any reason, Gary would always send us back to the office with a new avian friend to add to our collection. They very much brighten up the place, and no doubt will keep us smiling and motivated in our work for years to come.
As will Gary’s considerable legacy. We’ve lost a true original, and he will be greatly missed.