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Obituary: Ken Fager, CEFS research specialist

Ken L. Fager, 48, passed away Dec. 31. He was a researcher and educator at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems at N.C. State University.

A native of Pennsylvania, Fager earned his bachelor’s degree in horticulture from Penn State University in 1984. He moved to North Carolina in 1998, where he touched the lives of so many across the state in many ways. Working with CEFS for close to 12 years, he brought a knowledge and dedication to sustainable agriculture, his work and the farmers he served like no one else.

“He was a wonderful mentor and friend to students, interns, beginning farmers and anyone  interested in learning about cover crops, organic farming, home canning, operating farm equipment, raising vegetables  or just about anything,” said Nancy Creamer, CEFS co-director and N.C. State professor of horticultural science. “He was always eager to teach and excelled at it. He was especially good with children, demonstrating patience and insight into how to inspire and challenge them and open their eyes to the natural world.”

In his spare time, Fager enjoyed backyard organic gardening with his girlfriend, Karen Strong.  He spent time with his many friends who cared about him deeply and also enjoyed hiking, bicycling, the ocean, cooking and preserving his own food.  He cared so much for the earth and lived his life in total harmony with his values, which is one of the unique and endearing features about him.

He will be sorely missed by many across the state and nation. Sustainable agriculture in North Carolina has lost one of its true and long-time heroes.

Ken is survived by his mother, Loretta Fager; two brothers, Curt and Lou Fager, all of Pennsylvania; and his girlfriend of 11 years, Karen Strong of Benson.  Services will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 11 at 10:30 a.m. at the St. Peter Roman Catholic Church, 4 S. 5th St., Coplay, Penn. (phone 610-262-2417). A memorial service will also be held in Raleigh at a later date. Information about the Raleigh memorial will be posted as it becomes available at  In lieu of flowers, please make charitable gifts to your favorite gardening, sustainable agriculture or environmental organization.

For a photo tribute to Ken Fager, visit: