BELFAST — Amy Fisher didn’t grow in Maine soil, but she is no stranger to the state, and she is bullish on the future of Maine’s farms. She became Maine Farmland Trust’s new president and CEO Aug. 23.

She told The Republican Journal Sept. 1 that she grew up in Virginia and Hawaii, the daughter of a military father. Summers were spent with her grandparents in Maine, and now she is living in their former home in Castine. When her husband arrives in the state, the couple will look for a house closer to Belfast, she said.

She was attracted to the position at MFT by the potential she saw in the organization. “Maine has an incredible ecosystem of support for its farmers and landscapes, and together we have a unique opportunity to grow a thriving food and farm system that can feed Maine, and make our region more resilient,” she said in the Aug. 24 press release announcing her hiring.

One of the opportunities the organization has now is to bring more farmland under the protection of conservation easements, as an older generation of farmers prepares to retire and seeks to sell farms to younger entrants into the business. For those who want to ensure that their land remains in agricultural use, MFT has real estate agents who can help broker farming purchases, Fisher said. She added that the organization is also able to offer grants to new farmers who want to buy a farm, once the applicant has received some training in the business side of agriculture.

In addition, farmland protected under a conservation easement is sold at its agricultural value, which is generally less than the value for commercial or residential development, she said, thus keeping the price of entry lower for farmers early in their careers. Furthermore, the land remains under the easement for future sales, meaning it must be kept as farmland.

These so-called forever farms make sense, Fisher said, because land with soil that is good for cultivation is a renewable resource. She added that land use decisions should consider the needs of a community as well as those of the landowner.

She acknowledged that small farms, including many of those in Maine, are “working against the system,” which favors industrial-scale agriculture, but said, “Small farms are supportive of the environment in a way I think is important, and provide families with a way of life that we should support and protect.” She thinks there is room for both small and large farms in the state.

Making farming more accessible and making the business aspect of it easier to navigate are important parts of MFT’s mission, Fisher said. So is educating non-farmers about agriculture and its connection to food systems and helping them see that it is a modern profession in which one can make a good living.

A graduate of Bates and Boston University, she comes to MFT from the foundation for the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, according to the press release, where she “led a record-breaking fundraising campaign to launch a new institute-wide sustainable shellfish aquaculture initiative, created an innovation strategy and fund to spur exploration of creative solutions to marine challenges, established more than thirty fellowships to help students fund their educations in marine science, and advanced work to address marine plastic pollution, toxics, and community resilience in the face of recurrent flooding and rising sea levels.”

She is excited about coming to Maine now, she said, because “All eyes are on Maine. It’s an exciting time to be here and an exciting time to be doing this work.”