BILL DUESING ORAL HISTORY WITH LESLIE COX AND ROBERT S. COX
Duesing, Bill. Bill Duesing oral history with Leslie Cox and Robert S. CoxNortheast Organic Farming Association Records (MS 461). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.
Founder of CT NOFA
A pioneer in organic agriculture in New England, Bill Duesing has been as an environmental educator, writer, artist, and lecturer for over four decades. After graduating from Yale University (1964), Duesing worked as a Cooperative Extension agent before turning to organic principles in the early 1970s, and from 1979 to 1983, he served as Extension Energy Agent for New Haven County, working with the University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension Service.
Working toward a socially just and environmentally sound future, Duesing has long emphasized sustainability and greater local food sufficiency. He has been instrumental in developing organic standards for gardening and land care and served as both founding president and later executive director of the Northeast Organic Farming Association Connecticut and president of the NOFA Interstate Council. He has also been a notable proponent of using simple solar technologies to address problems ranging from health care to pollution and has been involved in education to put theory into practice. Between 1983 and 1987, Duesing developed an innovative series of hands-on courses in food, energy, and agriculture for schools in New Haven and Bridgeport as part of the University of Connecticut High School in the Community curriculum development project.
During the 1990s, Duesing produced two radio shows, “Living on the Earth” (WSHU) and “The Politics of Food” (WPKN), and he is the author of Living on the Earth: Eclectic Essays for a Sustainable and Joyful Future (1993). His collection of essays Living on the Earth was published by Long River Press in 1993, and he has been a regular contributor to the Low Tech Page for plain: The Magazine of Life, Land, and Spirit. For many years, Bill and his wife Suzanne operated Old Solar Farm in Oxford, Connecticut.
Bill founded CT NOFA: The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut, Inc. in 1982 and when he announced that he’s facing the last moments of his life, he said, “I trust my colleagues in this mission will continue their efforts to realize a sustainable and joyful future for all”.
Unfortunately, Bill moved on to greener pastures on July 12, 2018. While he lived a long and wonderful life with his family, we feel that he simply left us too soon!
“My sole real regret is that I leave this Earth having only partially completed the transition to a solar-powered society grounded in organic agriculture.” Bill Duesing, May 10, 2018
In his honor, Bill’s many friends have joined with CT NOFA to carry on his legacy through the creation of “The Friends of Bill Duesing Fund” and “The Bill Duesing Organic Living on the Earth Award”. The fund will support CT NOFA as they continue his organic legacy and the award will be given annually to an organic farmer, landscaper, advocate, or organization who is devoted to Bill’s goals of loving and treating the earth in a natural way.
Bill’s passion for conservation, organic farming and land care, activism and advocacy, and education can be seen throughout Connecticut in his life’s work. From the expansion of organic farms and landscapers to the founding of CT NOFA and Common Ground High School to the legislative efforts that led to tangible results on the environment, we would like to honor Bill by continuing unfinished work through education and advocacy made possible by The Friends of Bill Duesing Fund.
Links related to Bill
- 2018 WPKN Broadcast: The Life and Work of Bill Duesing by friend and radio show host, Richard Hill:
- 2018 WPKN Broadcast: Organic Farm Stand’s tribute to Bill Duesing – with Bill’s final call-in to the show
- About Bill’s book, “Living on the Earth”: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2888148-living-on-the-earth
- The University of Massachusetts library archive (five years of Bill Duesing’s weekly “Living on the Earth” essays and recordings of 14 “Politics of Food” radio shows)
- Many other essays & articles by Bill are posted to CT NOFA’s e-news archive. Many of those essays were also posted on the CTNOFA blog: http://ctnofa1982.blogspot.com