Jefferson County lost a leader in agriculture and community service last week with the death of farmer Lyle Campbell Tabb III of Leetown. 

Known as “Cam,” Tabb, the husband of Jefferson County Commissioner Jane Tabb, died Tuesday, April 26, of complications from a stroke. He was 75.

Tabb was a lifelong farmer on the multi-generational Tabb family’s Vinemont farm in Leetown. There, he oversaw grain crops and beef cattle while in the 1990s pursuing a large-scale, profitable composting operation. 

Vinemont’s recycling created nutrient-rich product from a variety of materials, such as food scraps, yard trimmings, manure and wood wastes, that would otherwise be sent to a landfill.

The family’s 1,800-acre farm sells the nutrient-rich compost and uses it on their cropland instead of paying for commercial fertilizers. 

In 2009, Tabb expanded those efforts by helping the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Martinsburg start a composting program that turns kitchen food scraps and cafeteria leftovers into a valuable agricultural supplement. The process saves hundreds of pounds of food waste from being sent to a landfill each week, turning what’s discarded into a valuable agricultural supplement.

The end product is what they call “black gold” around the Tabb farm. 

In 2014, the Tabbs’ recycling operations were featured in a PBS NewsHour Weekend program. Other veterans hospitals around the nation have replicated the recycling model.

“Our relationship with the VA has enabled us to realize another level of recycling that we did not think possible,” he explained to the Spirit at the time. “I hope our story will educate others about creative ways to recycle and reduce landfill deposits of food waste, which is what we are all working for.” 

A 1965 graduate of Charles Town High School, Tabb served nine years as an aircraft mechanic in the West Virginia Air National Guard 167th Airlift Wing.

A familiar figure for years while volunteering to announce the tractor pulls at the county fair, Tabb served as a civic leader and volunteer on county and state boards of the Farm Service Agency, the Jefferson County Planning Commission, the Jefferson County Fair Association and the Clarke County Young Farmers.

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