Jan 312014

The following article is reprinted from the February 2014 issue of the Piscataquis & Penobscot Farming Newsletter published by UMaine Extension.

Agriculture LogoSpring time is the time that many folks get serious about their goal of getting into farming or changing their farming enterprise. UMaine Extension has many resources available for the new, beginning farmer and for the established farmer thinking about changing their farm enterprise.

In the spring of 2013 Extension Educators in central Maine offered an eight-part webinar called “So You Want to Farm in Maine” to folks for free. Initially we had over 160 people enroll in the class. Live sessions were held in the evening and they were archived for later viewing.

Topics included: Assessing Resources, Developing a Business Plan, Financial Enterprise Budgets, Marketing and Market Research, Production & Regulations, Equipment, Business & Estate Planning, What Other Agencies have to Offer. Speakers included UMaine Extension county staff & specialists, Farm Service Agency staff, banker, insurance agent, and lawyer.

Those who participated reported more confidence in starting a farming enterprise. “This webinar series was just what I was looking for: A Maine-specific, real-time, and relevant source for beginning farmers. I also appreciated that it was on-line and archived.” And they implemented or plan to implement the practices discussed during the webinar.

If you missed this webinar and would like to view the archived sessions you can sign up at bit.ly/FARMME

Jan 252014
Communication Bullets are short but big news!

Communication Bullets are short but big news!

by Walter Boomsma, Communications Director

I happened to visit a couple of subordinate Grange websites and Facebook pages today using links from the Maine State Grange site… almost every one was last updated or posted to in November of last year! I know January is a slow Grange month… but it’s almost February! Surely you have some “good stuff” planned! Please take a few minutes to visit any sites or Facebook pages you are responsible and get something more current posted! Announce your February meeting and let people know you’re thriving!

It’s not to early to schedule a Grange Month planning meeting! Announce that!

Strive for a minimum of one new post per month… remember, you can always share a post from this site on your Facebook page!

HELP WANTED: By the way, a number of the links posted here to Facebook pages are no longer working… I will try to follow up–I suspect this is due to some changes on Facebook. In the interim, please check your link and if it is not working, send me a correct link.

Jan 222014

Submitted by Marilyn Stinson

Jefferson the Moose is Maine State Grange Mascot and he showed up at the Sagadahoc Pomona annual ‘Lunch out’ on Martin Luther King Day. And he brought Master Vicki with him.

The fellowship, frivolity, and good food made for a wonderful day for the 25 members and guests who were able to attend. We had reminders about the change of date for the CWA Baking Contest and about a safety matter. Subordinate and Community Granges will have to have their baking contests before the Pomona level for baking which will be at our June meeting in Bowdoinham and the winners at that meeting will take his and her filled cookies to State CWA in August. Correct recipes and rules will be given to members at the February Pomona meeting at Topsham on February 26th.

Safety tip – Whenever you have a 9 volt battery with the connectors on one end, be sure to cover the ends with electrical tape or duct tape before putting them in the re-cycle bin or trash to prevent any sparks starting a fire.

Sagadahoc Subordinate Granges are asked to be thinking about a theme for Fair Exhibits, please. We think it would be neat if those who exhibit at Topsham Fair all have the same theme. Master Mert is working on convincing every subordinate in Sagadahoc County to participate in that Fair. Remember also that Pittston is the first fair in July, and they accept entries from all neighboring towns.

Jan 192014
Share your ideas with other Granges!

Share your ideas with other Granges!

by Walter Boomsma
Communications Director

Here’s some food for thought about Food for Thought! (Food for Thought is a program available at no cost from National Grange.) Rolf Staples posted a comment saying he’d be interested in hearing how others will use this… As implied in the original announcement, this could be about Community Service, Family Health and Hearing, Lecturer’s Programs… it could even be used with Junior Grangers.

My initial thought was we’d make this available to schools where we distribute dictionaries… having previewed the DVD, it would seem the target population is low-income families. The DVD has three “parts.” Part one is clearly aimed at kids using the traditional Sesame Street approach featuring “Super Grover” and “Super Foods.” Part two seems to be targeted towards folks truly having financial difficulty and promotes programs like WIC, food cupboards, and family gardens. Part three is a bit more upbeat and follows a family through a visit to a farmer’s market through meal preparation with a “chef” who’s quite personable.

Some ideas that popped up while watching:

  • If offering to schools, consider approaching the school nurse or a guidance counselor. Personally, after previewing, I’m inclined to think it has limited application to “mainstream” classrooms.
  • Offer the program to Food Cupboards–it could be set up to play (probably the first or second part) or perhaps loaned to clients.
  • See if the material is something your local visiting nurse (or other agencies) would be interested in using with clients.
  • Build a Grange Program around the resources and offer it as a public event. It might even be possible to plan a “Family Health” event that would include health related exhibitors, free blood pressure tests, etc.
  • ROLF, note! If you have the equipment, I can see part three playing as part of your Farmer’s Market… or part one set up to entertain the kids while Mom and Dad shop…

I’d strongly recommend you preview this material carefully and see what ideas pop up! The emphasis on “family” connects rather nicely to the Grange’s design as a family oriented organization. The entire DVD is less than 30 minutes, so it might make a “lecturer’s program” with discussion… Note there is nothing in or on the material that connects this program to the Grange. If you are planning to loan or give the material, I’d suggest adding stickers with “compliments of…” and your Grange’s contact information.

Don’t forget to tell us your ideas–and share your success stories!


Jan 182014

GrowME Sprouts and Spurts!

Collaboration will provide classroom activities

GrowME logoWhile it might be difficult to think about gardening and farming in mid-January, a group of volunteers are doing just that. They are meeting at Piscataquis Soil and Water Conservation District office on Thursday, January 30 at 1 PM to begin preparing a third year for the GrowME program. The program is offered to K-3 teachers and schools in Piscataquis County and the surrounding areas. The program is organized by a collaboration between Valley Grange of Guilford, PCSWCD (Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District) and UMaine Piscataquis County Extension.

The program aims to utilize local volunteers who will work with teachers to schedule an agricultural activity in their classrooms during Maine Agriculture Week (March 24-28). Ana Bonstedt, Home Horticulture Coordinator for Piscataquis County UMaine Extension is particularly excited over the “hands on” aspect of the activities. “Thanks to our rural nature in Piscataquis County, we don’t have the ‘nature deficit’ that some more urban areas experience,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be offering our kids an opportunity to involve all their senses and get some hands on learning.”

Walter Boomsma, program director for Valley Grange agrees. For a number years he’s visited second graders at PCES to make butter as part of Valley Grange’s commitment to being a resource. “We have fun and the kids almost don’t realize they are learning–some have even asked for instructions and then made butter at home as a family activity.” Grange members have also done seed planting activities and created animal graphs. “We also spend some time just talking with the kids—many have chickens and gardens and it’s fun to share experiences.” Bonstedt has also seen positive impact of these hands on experiences—during last year’s activities she was invited back to one classroom to talk about her native country, Paraguay.

Boomsma notes that last year volunteers visited with over 40 classrooms and 700 kids, but note’s there should be no shortage of volunteers and resources thanks to the collaboration. “We’ve got master gardeners and farmers available through Extension Programs and PCSWCD includes partners and resources that are committed to good stewardship. Our continued goal is to keep this informal, local, and a true partnership between our schools, teachers, and volunteers. It’s not so much that we have a program to offer—it’s more about working together to make good use of our resources. Our volunteers will have the sort of agricultural experience and background to be especially relevant to students while providing insight into the importance of agriculture in our area.”

The group focuses on kindergarten through third grade but is willing to consider requests from teachers of other grades.

GrowME volunteers visit for about 20 minutes and work with students on a simple, grade appropriate activity. Teachers and administrators who are interested need only furnish contact information: teacher’s name-email address and grade. Interested teachers may email grangeatboomsmaonlinedotcom  (grangeatboomsmaonlinedotcom)   or call Boomsma at 343-1842. An online sign-up form is also available at http://growmehelp.wordpress.com.

Jan 172014
Communication Bullets are short but big news!

Communication Bullets are short but big news!

The officer page of our website is, we believe, updated and totally current, including phone numbers and email addresses! Note that this is a great way for you to simply click the officer’s name (assuming we have an email address) and send him or her an email.

HELP WANTED: Officers, Directors and Deputies… please check your listing for accuracy and email any corrections! Thanks!

Also, I’ve added a comment to the  recent Communications Post… what do you think? (Note you must visit the site to read or post comments.)

Jan 172014

CarrieSubmitted by John Tyler, Overseer of Halcyon Grange

We had a wonderful Christmas celebration December 12 at Mill Stream Bakery with 23 Halcyon Grange members and several members of Castine Grange as well to celebrate Carrie Saunders 99th birthday and her 75th year in the Grange.  Clyde Berry, Chaplain represented Maine State Grange and presented her with her 75th year award (see photo) and Halcyon Grange voted her Emeritus Treasurer for life after 30 plus years as worthy treasurer.

Jan 162014
WBbyMA-edited (580x800)by Walter Boomsma, Communications Director
walteratmainestategrangedotorg  (walteratmainestategrangedotorg)  
207 343-1842

First, let me thank Master Vicki for her confidence! This is an exciting new position for us and I hope to earn everyone’s confidence as we move forward. One of the more frequent comments I hear when people learn the news is, “You didn’t have enough to do??!”

Apparently not–or our State Master is an incredible salesperson. Seriously, I acknowledge that I have a full plate, but I also have a lot of energy.  But as a realist, I would ask for your patience and, more importantly, your help. You’ll be hearing more about that in future columns.

Right now, I’d like to share some preliminary thoughts about the Maine State Grange Bulletin. As you know from the announcement, I’ll be putting the bulletin together starting with the February Issue. All articles and information for the February Issue must be submitted by February 15th. Our goal is then to have the issue assembled, printed and mailed so you have it in hand for your March meetings. (Articles will be posted to the web site as received unless otherwise requested.)

The process for submitting is basically the same as submitting to the site. You have three options:

  1. You can use the “Submit” tab at the top of the website. This effectively emails your submission.
  2. You can simply send an email using the Webmaster email address  (webmasteratmainestategrangedotorg)  . Your information/article can be the email itself (preferred) or an attached Microsoft Word document.
  3. You can “snail mail” your information/article to my home address: 17 River Road, Abbot ME 04406. Do not use this address for any other State Grange business. Doing so will delay a reply!

Our plan is to fill each bulletin with information! Therefore we are asking that articles be limited to 250-300 words. We also reserve the right to edit and (this should be very rare!) reject articles. Questions and comments are always welcome… to comment on this article on the site, you’ll need to click on the line to the right, just below the  headline where it says “responses.” Subscribers who are reading this in an email will need to click on the headline and visit the site.

The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.

Sydney J. Harris

Jan 152014

by Vicki HuffVicki - Sash (2)

Just came back from Northeast Leaders’ Conference. The theme this year was on teambuilding. Ironic that in this year’s Master Address I spoke about our Granges working as a team. Teamwork is truly a valuable tool in moving our Granges forward. Some of the questions that were brought up during the weekend were: “What are some of the teams in your Grange? How many teams should your Grange have? Is there a ME in team?”

Our teams should include Grangers and members from the community. Whenever possible we need to work with other community groups. Working with other organizations on a common project within the community helps everyone. It spreads the workload, creates enthusiasm and not just one organization gets the credit but they all share the success. Is there a project in your Grange’s community that a team approach would benefit?

There are many teams in the Grange already: officers, committees , members. We make all our decisions as a team, every member attending the meeting has a vote. Team members cheer each other on, are supportive and create energy.

Together Each Accomplishes More

Jan 142014

by Vicki HuffVicki - Sash (2)

Please join me in congratulating Walter Boomsma who has accepted the position of Communications Director. After considering our Grange future, I decided to create this Communications Director position and incorporate some of the responsibilities traditionally expected from the position of publicity director into a broader role that will include the website and other internal communications. This will mean some great improvements in how and when we share information. As a first step, the Communications Director has agreed to accept the job of assembling and formatting the monthly bulletin that is mailed to each Grange. But it is important to remember that the person who holds this position cannot create communication–he can only help us all share news, information, ideas, etc. Let’s help him help us communicate! Effective with the February issue, please submit articles and information for the MSG Bulletin directly to Walter either by email, through the website, or snail mail to Walter Boomsma, 17 River Road, Abbot ME 04406.