A friend gone

Marcie Rosenzweig fullcircle at jps.net
Thu Sep 13 07:45:25 EDT 2001

Thought all should know the myriad ways this horror continues to 
touch us.  Has anyone been in contact with Tony or anyone else from 


Status:  U
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Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2001 07:11:07 -0400 (EDT)
From: Hugh Joseph <hjoseph at emerald.tufts.edu>
Subject: IFFS: Re: John Ogonowski
To: iffs at nal.usda.gov
Sender: owner-iffs at warp.nal.usda.gov


John Ogonowski was the pilot on American Airlines Flight 11 to
Los Angeles that crashed into the World Trade Center in New York
City yesterday morning.  At this time of immense tragedy, all our
hearts go out to his wife Peggy, to their three children and to
other family and friends.  But it is also a time to remember John
for his generous efforts on behalf of farming in Massachusetts,
and particularly for immigrant farmers from Cambodia whom he
assisted as part of the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project.

John became involved with this project at its very inception over
three years ago, when Paul Fischer of Farm Service Agency in
Westford contacted him looking for land to make available for
Southeast Asian families living in nearby Lowell who wanted to
farm.  John recognized this immediately as an opportunity to help
a worthy group of beginning growers to practice another kind of
agriculture.  He not only made land behind his home available to
these farmers, but White Gate became our first all-commercial
"mentor farm" - a training site for these beginning growers.  In
practice he was involved in every activity on the farm involving
this project.  He ploughed and harrowed the land and fertilized
it with well-aged compost he would have otherwise used for his
own crops. He excavated a pond as a water source, and set up an
irrigation system connected to it and to existing wells.  He
ordered materials and set up a greenhouse so the growers could
raise seedlings and do extended season production.  He provided
advice to them on managing production, pest control, harvesting
and other production practices.  He participated at project
steering committee meetings; in fact, he and Peggy hosted a
number of these meetings at their beautiful home where they would
serve dishes made from their farm grown vegetables and fruits in
additional to other great foods.

All John Ogonowski was asked to do was to rent land to these
growers, which he did.  But he'd rarely collect the rents and he
did so much else for the growers that took up his time and
created out-of-pocket expense for which he often never asked for
reimbursement.  John did all this while he was a full time pilot
for American Airlines, while he raised his own crops on an
additional 200 acres spread around Dracut, and while he helped
raise three wonderful children.  He was a founder and active
member of a local land trust that has helped to save a
substantial amount of local farmland in Dracut from development.
This year, the land trust negotiated the purchase of about 50
acres of land about a mile from his house.  With much of John's
own land out of commission due to a major gas pipeline
installation, he made this land available to our project and
because of that a dozen Cambodian households got a new start
farming this year.

John was interviewed by Susan Shepherd of NPR's Living on Earth
just a few weeks ago (to air this week).  In that interview he
talked at length about how much he loved to farm and how he got
involved with the immigrant farming program because he wanted to
offer an opportunity to others who also loved agriculture.  He
praised the hard work of the participating Cambodian families and
how it meant so much to him to be able to offer them this

August Schumacher, Jr., former USDA Undersecretary of Agriculture
and a founder of the NEFSP, was, like everyone who know him,
tremendously anguished by this catastrophic event:
    "John Ogonowski's tragic death is a terrible loss to Peggy,
their children and his wonderful parents and to so many in
Massachusetts farming.  He was so committed to helping immigrant
farmers, to assist new immigrants from war torn Asia to make a
better life farming in America.  I just think how ironic it is
that someone who worked so hard to help victims of terrorism
should be brought down by an act of terrorism himself.  He will
be sorely missed".

John was a personal friend to many of us and a true friend to
Massachusetts agriculture - we will indeed miss him greatly.

Hugh Joseph
Marcie A. Rosenzweig
Full Circle
3377 Early Times Ln
Auburn, CA  95603-7900
(530) 885-9201

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