This “spot on” commercial has aired on PBS… great explanation of what the Grange has been and is about!
by Rod Hamel, Secretary
East Sangerville Grange #177
I’d like to provide a little update on what the “Fightin’ 177” has been up to lately. Our Farmer Committee has banded together to create a round robin weeding party. On Sunday afternoons, a deserving farmer is selected and we descend on them to help catch up on some weeding. Our first stop was at Two Roads Farm in Sangerville where we helped Meg and Kyle get their snap peas in good shape and after about 3 1/2 hours we had a nice little tour to see their other crops, and meet the pigs, cows, ducks, and chickens. Last week had us at Helios Horsepower Farm in Guilford where Lizzie and Andrea set us upon the scallions. “Many hands make light work” proved true and we were through four big rows of scallions in two hours. Before we could move to the next task, we noticed Kyle from Two Roads and Ben from Shaw Road Farm both on their phones with some concerned discussion. It turned out that a Two Roads Farm escapee cow missing in the woods for a few weeks appeared in a Shaw Road Farm pasture a wreaking havoc on their fences and their grass-fed beef operation. We quickly decided to demobilize from Guilford and head to Sangerville for some cattle rustling. Our weeding party of nine people plus Ben’s dad proved a worthy adversary for the cow and after a mere 90 minutes and threats of creating some steak tartar, we had her safely eating some silage in a barn ready for transport home. We finished the evening with some burgers courtesy of Shaw Road Farm and promises to return to Helios Horsepower farm and give them their fair share of weeding. This week we will convene at Marr Pond Farm in Sangerville and see what Ryan and Courtney have in store for us! The program is really just getting started and is not just for small commercial farmers–we’re willing to help out homesteaders and woodlot owners. These weeding experiences have a side benefit because they allow our busy Grangers to get together for a bit of socializing and still get some farm work done!
Webmaster’s Note: The following article is reprinted with permission from an e-newsletter published by Paul Davis, State State Senator for District 4.
Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry Offers Business Planning Course for Farmers
The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry – Maine Farms for the Future Program and Jed Beach of FarmSmart Business Services will offer NxLevel Tilling the Soil of Opportunity, a six-session course to help Maine farmers take their businesses to the next level, in November. The six-session course will help farmers update business goals, determine which crops to grow, evaluate markets, improve management skills, and more.
For more information, click here or contact Jed Beach at jedfarmsmartmainecom (jedfarmsmartmainecom) , or call 207-370-9238.
by Heather Retberg
On last Friday morning, Governor Paul LePage signed the food sovereignty bill into law.
“In the year of our Lord two thousand and seventeen,” begins the bill, “be it enacted by the people of the State of Maine as follows…”
The bill officially recognizes the authority of our towns to regulate our food systems by local ordinance when the sales are between individual farmers, food producers, and customers. It also offers into state law the first definition of ‘local food system’. What began in 2009 as an administrative language change that made our work illegal overnight, has now, at long last, been corrected. The rule of law is behind our labors once again! We have prevailed in defining ourselves and what we do in legal terms. And, further, the state of Maine recognizes that each of us in our towns, has the authority under home rule at town meeting, to decide for ourselves how our food needs are met. A very heartfelt thanks to all of you over this last session and over the years, for your words of encouragement and sustenance. Thanks also for contacting representatives, senators and the governor to protect the food system and the relationships around it that we have cultivated together over the years. It is a sweet time of celebration we are so pleased to share with all of you!
The full text of the soon to be chaptered law:
Please do the last thing, the best, most pleasant part of this whole process: write the governor one more time and express your thanks for his signature. Also, please thank your senator and representative for their efforts and votes, and help them know just how important this is outside of the halls of the statehouse.
Webmaster’s note: This was “stolen” from Heather Retberg’s Facebook Page!
The State of Maine has officially recognized food sovereignty.
Let us celebrate. This is a good day for our small farms, for our rural communities, for our town meetings, and democracy from the bottom up!
Congratulations to all of you who have worked so hard, so long and so steadfastly to bring this day to light.
Special thanks to Senator Jackson for sponsoring the bill and co-sponsors: Senators Langley and Miramant, and Representatives Dunphy and Martin.
A lion’s roar of thanks to Representative Craig Hickman for his fierce, principled tenacity, for his expert navigation and shepherding of LD 725, and for his unrelenting force that just wouldn’t give up.
The Sesquicentennial Committee of the National Grange has researched and compiled a packet of interesting information designed to assist Granges in making the most of the opportunity to learn about and to celebrate the rich history of Grange. The packet – which was earlier sent in hard copy to your State Master and Secretary – contains interesting historical facts, short biographies of important Grange leaders as well as suggested ways to celebrate. Lecturers or any other Grange member who is in charge of sesquicentennial events should find the information very helpful.
Webmaster’s Note: Lecturers will love this packet… there are some great suggestions for programs and discussions! But it’s also chock-full of historical information that should be of interest to every Granger. You can read a letter written by Susan B. Anthony to the National Grange in 1895… learn what various presidents have had to say about the Grange… be amazed at the amount of legislation the Grange has promoted over the years… discover some well-known people who were Grangers (I didn’t know Norman Rockwell was a Granger)…
The Bangor Daily News recently published a fairly thorough and accurate article on the progress of LD 725 (supported by a MSG Resolution passed in 2015). You can read the article here. The situation can change almost daily, but as of this past Wednesday, the bill had passed in both the House (with a super majority) and Senate. According to the article, the bill still has several hurdles to overcome, including the governor’s signature.
We are also told the towns of Blue Hill and Islesboro have sent official town letters of support. The towns of Solon, Moscow, Liberty, and Greenwood are considering or working on similar letters. Two representatives have asked to meet with the governor to advocate for his support of the bill.
Grangers who wish to help can still do so by contacting your senator or representative and encouraging them to “hold to their affirmative votes” and contacting the governor and encouraging his signature. For more information or assistance, contact Heather Retberg (quillsendfarmgmailcom) of Halcyon Grange.
While the farm spring rhythms beat louder and stronger each day, the work to fully realize food sovereignty grows to a fevered pitch just now, too. Last weekend, the small town of Greenwood, Maine, in Oxford County adopted the Local Food & Community Self-Governance Ordinance, making it the 19th town in eight counties across Maine to do so. And, this, just before the vote in the Maine Senate to require the state to recognize these ordinances! Such nice timing. When the vote on LD 725 (An Act to Recognize Local Control Regarding Food Systems) happened last Wednesday afternoon, the tone had changed considerably for the better. With all the outreach from people across the state, with all the work done under the dome by our legislative allies to bring more of the opposition on board, with a LOT of dialogue and several drafts of an helpful amendment, the vote on Wednesday, that we expected to win or lose by one or two votes, was unanimously in favor of LD 725! This was a moment long in the making. We’re not over the finish line yet, but I have learned to celebrate the moments of victory–each one a monumental undertaking of sorts! The food sovereignty bill proceeds to the house this week for a vote. If it passes there and is subsequently enacted by both chambers as we expect, it will head to the governor’s desk for a signature, another unpredictable hurdle. Meanwhile, the food freedom bill, LD 835 An Act to Promote Small Diversified Farms and Small Food Producers sponsored by Rep. Ralph Chapman, is tabled in the Senate awaiting enactment before it goes to the governor’s desk. So much as we can tell from out here, the Senate is waiting to see what happens with LD 725 before it passes Rep. Chapman’s bill in final enactment to the governor. We are urging them to enact both and send both to the governor’s desk. If any of our Grange brothers and sisters across the state have the governor’s ear, now would be a great time to ask them to bend it in the direction of small farms and our community’s local control of food systems!
The following invitation has been issued by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.
Don’t miss your chance to participate in the 28th Anniversary of Open Farm Day scheduled on Sunday, July 23, 2017! We are looking forward to this opportunity to promote Maine’s diverse agricultural community.
Open Farm Day is the perfect way to connect with neighbors, your town, interested visitors and tourists and teach them about how their food and fiber is produced. Many who attend bring children to learn and connect with local farms. If you would like to participate, please sign up online at this link and complete the online form. Please mail or email a copy of your Certificate of Insurance, to:
Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, ATTN: Open Farm Day, 28 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0028 Or Fax: (207) 287-7548.
The completed form and certificate of insurance must be received NO LATER than Friday, May 19th. If we do not receive your materials by this date, your farm will not be listed in the promotional materials used to showcase this event. Farms that do not provide a Certificate of Insurance are not eligible to participate.
All new participants who meet the requirements and deadline for promotions will receive an official Open Farm Day Participant flag, while supplies last, to help promote your involvement in this annual event. Other promotions for this year’s event will include press releases, website promotions, posters and inclusion in a supplemental newsletter listing all the participating farms. The supplement will be distributed to all tourism information centers throughout the State of Maine and will be inserted in daily newspapers throughout the state prior to this event.
Again, please put Sunday, July 23rd on your calendar and plan to join us for the 28th Anniversary of Open Farm Day! We look forward to working with you on this exciting and worthwhile event. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry at (207) 287-7620 or samanthahowardmainegov (samanthahowardmainegov) .
On behalf of the MSG Educational Aid and the Howe’s Nurses Scholarship Fund, I am issuing a plea for your support. This goes out to non-members, as well as to members of the Grange.
The cost of a college education is increasing each year, and our funds to help these young people are limited. Any donation, however small it may be, made by individuals, Granges, or any other organization would be so appreciated! You do not need to be a Granger in order to donate to this worthy cause.
There are many creative ways that a Grange can use to raise money, such as a supper, a raffle, or a program. Think outside the box! Come up with an activity that would be lots of fun for those participating as well as would raise the funds for some young person’s dream to come true.
Last year, the Maine State Grange was able to award ten $500 scholarships to ten deserving students. With your generous donations, perhaps we can do even more this year.
Please send your donations to J. Patrick Elwell, Secretary/Treasurer, Educational Aid Fund, 136 Quaker Lane, Smithfield, ME 04978.
Thank you for doing your part in helping young adults, who will be our leaders of the future.