Feb 172018

Thanks to Harraseeket Grange in Freeport and member Sebastian Meade for a great idea! Harraseeket is now including a drawing (a photo would also work) of their hall on all their flyers and promotional materials, “so [the hall] starts to become recognized from a distance.”

In a word, “awesome!”

This particular drawing was done by Sebastian who also runs a business called buttonspinzandthingz.com — he does things like buttons, magnets, and original artwork. Small quantities are available…

Another step that Harraseeket Grange has taken is to include “Freeport” in their name… if your Grange isn’t named the same as your community, that might something to consider.

This might also be a good opportunity to remind you of the importance of knowing a street address (911) for your Grange. Not only does it help visitors set their GPS unit, it will be critical in the event of an emergency.

Oh, by the way, Sebastian holds two offices in his Grange: Assistant Steward and Building Agent. How’s that for another great idea!?

What other exciting ideas are out there?!

Feb 112018

The most recent issue of Good Day! National Grange magazine includes a half-page photo of David Gowen and his daughter Hannah. That, of itself, is exciting, but even more exciting is the reason and the story behind the photo. During the awards reception of the 151st Annual National Grange Convention, the Gowen family was one of seventy families across the nation who were honored with Legacy certificates. The certificates recognize the decades of service running through some Grange Families. For the Gowen Family, that includes six generations of membership in the Grange, starting in 1875 when James and Clarinda Gowen (first generation) and James and Ida Gowen (second generation) were all members of Westbrook Grange #87 (now Highland Lake Grange #87). That’s a lot of Grangers and a lot of Grange Service! Congratulations to the Gowens–the only family from Maine to receive this honor!

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Your family may qualify for recognition as a Grange Legacy Family if you can provide information about five or more generations of your family that have been part of the Grange.  Learn more about the program here. Awards are presented annually at the National Grange Convention. Deadline for applications for this year is August 6, 2018.

Jan 312018

The Pomona Award for Public Service was presented to Philip Steadman at Sagadahoc Pomona ‘Annual Lunch Out’ on MLK Day. Over 20 enjoyed getting together for a mid-winter break and having lunch. We were glad to have State Master Sherry Harriman and Richard Harriman and other state officers and guests join us!

Our February meeting is Feb 28, 2018 – Topsham – ‘Let’s Take a Trip’ (Share your stories about trips you have taken.) Potluck supper at 6:00, meetings at 7:00. Come join us! Stairlift to the upstairs hall in Topsham’s wonderful hall!

Jan 302018

“For our business interests we desire to bring producer and consumer into the most direct and friendly relations possible, remembering that, ‘individual happiness depends upon general prosperity.” 

–Declaration of Purposes of the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry

Grangers are connecting the dots to support small farms, access to farm-raised food and growing the zone of food sovereignty across the state of Maine. Madison Granger, Sonia Acevedo of Hide and Go Peep Farm invited fellow farmer, food sovereignty advocate, and Halcyon Grange Master, Heather Retberg to be on a panel at an informational potluck and music night at the Kennebec Valley Grange.  Halcyon member Bonnie Preston, also instrumental in working toward food sovereignty at the local and state levels, will participate in the panel informational session as well.

This is a great example of Grange grassroots advocacy at its finest. The Maine State Grange passed a resolution called Community-Based Food Production in 2015 which resolved that: “The Maine State Grange will use its influence to urge the passage of legislation recognizing municipalities’ authority to regulate by ordinance the direct producer-to-customer exchange of all food grown, harvested, prepared, processed or produced in the municipality.”

In 2016, the Maine State Grange drew on its roots laid out in our Declaration of Purposes and our Constitution to adopt a further resolution to grow the Grange as a relevant farming organization for this century and to support our small-scale, ecological farms in Maine. We resolved then that: “The Maine State Grange shall work proactively with elected local, state, and federal officials to further the shared interests of small-scale, ecological farms and their communities; and… shall work in concert with Subordinate/Community Granges to educate the general public about ecological farming principles and the relation of soil health to community wealth;…”

Just last year, the Maine State Grange followed up on our resolves and supported a bill that was signed into law first in June of 2017, and later amended and signed into law again by Governor LePage in October of 2017. This bill has now become Chaptered Law 314 known as the Maine Food Sovereignty Act. It recognizes municipal authority to adopt local food ordinances regarding “direct producer-to-consumer” sales and requires the State to recognize those ordinances. In other words, the law requires the state to honor community-based food production systems just as we outlined in our 2015 resolution!

The law moved the power out of the bureaucracies and back into our town governments, that is to say, back to us at our own town meetings! This has the potential to be a monumental shift that can lay the groundwork for stronger local economies in our towns based on farming and food production once again.

But we have to get involved in town government. We have to work to adopt the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance (LFCSG), passed in 21 towns and one city across Maine, on which the Maine Food Sovereignty Act is based.  An ordinance template can be found here:http://localfoodrules.org/ordinance-template/

Now, it’s time to act on our resolve from 2016 and work with our local Granges to educate the general public about ecological farming principles and how we can “work proactively with elected local, state and federal officials to further the interests of small-scale ecological farms in Maine.”

Hide and Go Peep Farm’s Sonia Acevedo in Madison, Maine is showing us how to do just that. She’s working with her local Grange to bring townspeople together over food and music to talk about food sovereignty and food freedom.  The Grange becomes again the center of spreading information and education on the efforts the Maine State Grange has been supporting since 2015.  Halcyon Grange in Blue Hill gained new members when they supported food sovereignty efforts in 2011. Since then, farmer Heather Retberg and farm patron Bonnie Preston, both Halcyon Grangers, have been traveling around the state meeting people in Grange halls, church fellowship halls, school gyms and town halls to share their experience with local government and adopting the LFCSG Ordinance and helping other towns do just that.  They can come to your Grange, too.

Since the state of Maine recognized local control of food in 2017, the time is ripe to use local Granges across the state for informational potlucks like this upcoming one at Kennebec Valley Grange!

You can contact Heather by email  (quillsendfarmatgmaildotcom)   or contact Bonnie by email  (bonnieprestonatearthlinkdotnet)   to invite them to your Grange hall.

Town meeting time is high time for potluckin’ and politickin’. Music helps keep it all merry. Let’s get back to our roots and go forward into a farming future!

“The soil is the source from whence we derive all that constitutes wealth; without it, we would have no agriculture, no manufacturers, no commerce. Of all the material gifts of the Creator, the various productions of the vegetable world are of the first importance. The art of agriculture is the parent and precursor of all arts, and its products, the foundation of all wealth.”

–Preamble of the Constitution of the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry

Jan 292018

Click to enlarge image

I know we do not usually feature local Grange events as posts to the website, but I’m making an exception with this one. because it may well represent an exciting future of “local” Grange events on several points!

First, at least three Granges are involved in this Community Discussion being held on February 2, 2018. It’s obvious from the flyer that Kennebec Valley Grange is hosting and East Madison Grange is sponsoring. What’s not as obvious is that Halcyon Grange is also involved–Master Heather Retberg and Bonnie Preston will be sharing their experience and expertise as part of the discussion.

Second, there’s some creative scheduling involved with a potluck before and music following. That’s three different incentives and opportunities at Kennebec Valley Grange right in a row–and each truly does follow the “community” theme.

Along those same lines, Highland Lake Grange recently shared information about the Beekeeping Program they offered before their “regular” meeting. As an exciting epilogue, Master Dave McGowen reports that two folks who attended the Beekeeping Program “stuck around” after and expressed interest in information about joining the Grange!

These are great examples of “everybody wins” ideas and programming! We often talk about our “grassroots” and how there can be and are differences in Granges and their focus. But the opportunities for collaboration, cooperation, and creativity abound!

Certainly, our structure suggests this could happen at the Pomona Level–one of the purposes of the Pomona Grange is to provide an opportunity to share and support. If there’s diversity in our Pomona, would it make sense to do a Pomona Event that features every Grange? A piece of the event might be to set up tables for each subordinate/community Grange and invite the public to come and learn about all the Granges in the area. (The host Grange would best be the most geographically central.

But informal arrangements can also work extremely well based on shared interests or physical location. There’s an old example explaining synergy (the combining of energies) as two plus two equals five. When two Granges get together to collaborate and cooperate, one plus one equals three!

And remember, collaboration and cooperation are not limited to other Granges. Valley Grange is currently working on a spring event that will potentially include Project Linus, quilting clubs, and high schools.

Share your stories! Do not underestimate your successes! Something as simple as how you schedule programs and meetings may trigger an idea that another Grange can use. Take photos of your successful events and send them for sharing.

Collaboration, cooperation, and creativity — another example of “the Grange Way.”

Email the Maine State Grange Webmaster Subscribe to Maine State Grange Website!

Jan 212018

Prior to our regular meeting on January 18th, Highland Lake Grange No. 87 hosted a program on beekeeping. Master Beekeeper Chris Rogers, owner of Backwoods Bees in Windham, presented a fascinating discussion on the bee colonies, and the basics of beekeeping. Beekeeping has become very popular over the last ten years and is largely responsible for the resurgence of honey bees, which is vital to agriculture. Chris certainly created a buzz among the Grange members and guests in attendance!

Jan 212018

Photo by David Colby Young

Danville Junction Grange #65, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is four feet up in the air!! The foundation is being replaced. It will be necessary to dig around the entire building. Two chimneys had to be removed and the kitchen floor and sills completely replaced. A sill on the front porch will also have to be replaced.

While the hall is unavailable, our scheduled meetings are being held at the Danville Union Church, just up the hill from the Grange hall. Instead of refreshments after the meetings, we are now serving dessert at 6 p.m.

Hopefully, we will be able to resume our monthly bean and casserole suppers on Saturday, March 3, at 5 p.m. Bingo is played at 7. Hope to see all of our “regulars” as well as some new faces at that time!

Jan 182018

Danville Junction Grange #65 has completed their Dictionary Project for this year!  We were able to distribute 360 dictionaries, which included five different schools in Auburn and New Gloucester. During our many years of participating in this project, our Grange has distributed over two thousand dictionaries, something of which we are very proud!

A special fund to purchase dictionaries has been established by Danville Junction Grange.  Money is raised for this fund in many ways.  We sell Rada knives and frozen chicken pies at our suppers and sales. Some money is donated by standing committees or individuals.  We also have received community service grants from the Maine State Grange.

The photo shows a group of students from one of our schools inspecting their new dictionaries.  While this project is very worthwhile, we Grangers, who deliver the dictionaries, gain so much enjoyment from feeling the excitement when we meet the students!  They are so excited and enthusiastic!  It is fun to watch their faces as they discover the sections on sign language, planets, presidents, and, of course, the page which has the longest word in the dictionary!  We feel that this is a very worthwhile project, and one which we can continue for many years to come.

Jan 162018

Short messages from your Communications Department

We’ve just added a link to another subordinate/community Grange Facebook Page. Welcome, New Sharon Grange!

This might be a good opportunity to point out an “easy peasy” way to share Grange Information. I hope those who are responsible for Grange Facebook Pages also subscribe to the MSG Website! At the bottom of every post, you’ll find several social media icons. If you click the Facebook one, a window will open allowing you to share the post. You’ll need to change the setting at the top of that window from your timeline to the page you are responsible for. (You are also welcome to share it to your personal timeline, of course!) If I’m counting correctly, it’s about three mouse clicks to share the post. Those clicks might count as participation in the Communication Department’s “Plus Two” initiative–a focus on what we are doing right in the Grange.

Also as a reminder, I do check Facebook Pages created for subordinate/community Granges from time to time. If a page is not being kept current, I remove the link on the MSG website so we’re not doing the equivalent of sending people to a closed store! The same is true of websites. (National Grange Policy regarding websites and social media is included in the Communications Handbook.)

Some other recent additions to the site include

  • the National Grange Handout of twenty tips to retain members (National Grange Section)
  • an updated (every month) wishlist of the Veteran’s Administration (Community Service Section)
  • the January Bulletin (Communications Resources Section)

All this and more can be found on the “Program Books and Information Page.”

Subscribe to Maine State Grange Website!