Dec 272014

Farm Apprenticeships in 2015

Maine Coast Heritage Trust is excited to announce two 9-month long farm apprenticeships in 2015 at two farm preserves in Rockport, Maine.  In the past, both properties hosted summer interns to assist with farm and outreach efforts.  With the 2015 apprenticeships, the farms will be able to offer further training and a more holistic approach to farming to the new farmers than what a short summer internship could provide.

One apprenticeship focuses on raising beef cattle at Aldermere Farm and the other centers on growing organically raised vegetables at Erickson Fields Preserve.  The Aldermere Farm position will allow the apprentice to experience all facets of managing a world-class herd of registered Belted Galloway beef cattle while the Erickson position will engage in the planning and production related to an extensive vegetable growing operation utilizing local teens and volunteers to provide fresh vegetables to food pantries, schools and other markets.

Along with each of their main farm related tasks, both apprentices will assist in implementing youth and adult programs and events at the sites based on sustainable agriculture outreach efforts. There is also opportunity for the two apprentices to assist each other, thus diversifying their overall experience. The apprenticeships are paid opportunities and include shared housing, training, and supervision, but previous farming experience and experience educating youth and/or adults is preferred for those interested in applying.

Aldermere Farm and Erickson Fields Preserve are two working farms and agriculture education centers owned and managed by Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT).  Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) Apprenticeship Program is working with MCHT on these apprenticeships to help with recruitment support and to provide additional farmer trainings and networking opportunities for the new apprentices.

Interested applicants should review the farm listings and apply through the MOFGA Apprenticeship Program application process at their website at (see the “Programs” page).  Listing are under Knox County and the codes are #KNX-26 (Aldermere) & #KNX-27 (Erickson).  Deadline for applications is January 22 and the start date for work is March 1.  Please contact MOFGA with any questions involving the application at mofgaatmofgadotorg  (mofgaatmofgadotorg)   or 207-568-4142. Direct any apprenticeship questions or to request more information about the apprenticeships to Aldermere Farm at spostatmchtdotorg  (spostatmchtdotorg)   or 207-236-2739.

Dec 222014
By Walter Boomsma
Communications Director/Webmaster

Again this year, I have watched the debates rage of what phrases we should use when greeting each other this time of year. It is interesting that folks enter the debate from so many different perspectives with some worried about political correctness, some worried about theological implications, some worried about the social aspect.

I worried briefly about what to post on the site–until I remembered that I’m the Communications Director. That means whatever greeting is offered can be a simple communications issue.  So please understand, the headline and photo are not a political, theological, or social commentary. The reality is there are at least two holidays approaching–Christmas and New Year’s Day. Therefore, it would seem wishing site visitors “happy holidays” is fairly accurate from a communications perspective.

And it doesn’t mean you can’t have a “Merry Christmas” (or some version of it). There are no hidden agendas or meanings. Well, maybe there is one.

Of late, as a society we are placing an extremely high value on diversity–one reason the “Happy Holidays” greeting is gaining in popularity. But when we obsess on encouraging diversity we omit half of the formula. Diversity requires tolerance.

A seasonal example might be found in snowflakes. Supposedly there are no two alike–how’s that for diversity? When they bond together they create beauty and, in some cases, inconvenience and danger. But they don’t fight about it. There aren’t “bad” snowflakes and “good” snowflakes. There are just snowflakes. What can we learn from those snowflakes? What can we accomplish when we bond together in spite of our differences?

Perhaps the hidden meaning in this wish is that you enjoy the diversity and experience the tolerance. We are, after all, just people trying to make our way through life as happily (or merrily) as possible. Enjoy the trip!


Christmas Greet

Dec 202014
Denise Tepler, newly elected to the Maine State Legislature, presents Topsham Master Mike Labbe with the Legislative Resolve honoring Topsham Grange.

Denise Tepler, newly elected to the Maine State Legislature, presents Topsham Master Mike Labbe with the Legislative Resolve honoring Topsham Grange.

Chartered in November of 1874, Topsham Grange #37 observed its 140th Anniversary with a rousing, old-fashioned meeting on November 5th. Many members and guest arrived to enjoy a traditional bean supper with all the fixin’s. Many came dressed in period attire. Everything from lace, fur, fans, a parasol, and long dresses completed the varied costumes. CJ Roy was “Rosie the Riveter,” and another member was a genuine cowboy.

The dining room was decorated with colorful table coverings and centerpieces of greens and red berries. One side of the room featured historic photos and memorabilia, some dating back to the earliest days of Grange establishment in the Androscoggin/Sagadahoc area. State Master Vicki and Topsham Master Mike Labbe officiated at the cake cutting at the dessert table that was also laden with pies of every variety.

After dessert and moving to the upper hall, the officers, members, and guests opened the meeting in form. The extended program began with singing the “State of Maine Song,” and the program was interspersed with several sing-along collections of songs from the decades since 1874—from “Rock-A-Bye Baby” to “The Aba Daba Honeymoon” and “Hello Dolly.”

Retired Bates Professor and Wales Grange member Douglas Hodgkin, spoke about the early history of Grange formation in this area of the state. In speaking of his own former Grange, Lewiston #2, he told how that Grange building was picked up and moved up the road to be closer to the Lewiston-Bath trolley line for the convenience of members and visitors.

Joyce DeVito, Mert Ricker, Nancy Clark, Helen Black, and Blanche Rider offered historic vignettes of the five Granges that individually combined and eventually merged with Topsham over the years, all but one of which would have been observing their 140th anniversaries this year: Lewiston #2, Eureka #7 and Solid Rock #502 (both of Durham), Pine Tree #3 of Lisbon, and Dirigo #13 of Brunswick. As the Granges organized, one of the first orders of business was to purchase material and sew the regalia for officers—in those early years no two Granges were alike in their regalia!

At two points in the evening, the stage curtains parted to reveal the old footlights shining on two different hand-painted, vintage stage curtain sets, still nearly as vibrant and colorful as when they were first created and installed on the stage in the early 1900s.

The Grange Singers (nearly all in pink sash) prepare to perform under the baton of State Master Vicki.

The Grange Singers prepare to perform under the baton of State Master Vicki.

Two outstanding program highlights of the evening were a demonstration of Scottish dancing by a group that practices at Topsham Grange, and “The Grange Singers,” performed by an enthusiastic group of State Officers and a guest under the expert direction of State Master Vicki. To cap the evening, a Grand March was led by State Master Vicki and State Overseer Rick Groton.

A fine time was had by all present, including guests from nearly a dozen Granges. It was an exciting evening, and would have made the many members who have passed through this Grange in its 140-year history proud.

In addition, at the December meeting of Topsham Grange, a newly elected member of the Maine Legislature, presented the Grange with a joint resolution from the Maine House and Senate, honoring Topsham Grange for its contributions to the communities it serves, and to honor its 140 years since being chartered.

Dec 182014
Communication Bullets are short but big news!

Communication Bullets are short but big news!

West Bath Seaside Grange #592 would like to inform all members that our Grange will be having meetings over the winter but our meetings will not be held at our Grange. Our next meeting which will be :

Tuesday, January 6, 2015 will be held at Midcoast Pizza and More located at 737 Washington Street in Bath. Our times have not changed we will still meet at 6:00p.m. For Social Hour and the meeting will start at 7:00p.m.

We will then vote on whether our next meeting will be there also. If anyone has any questions please feel free to contact Angela Smith at (207) 504-1012 and leave a message and I will return your call.

Webmaster’s note: As a reminder, we do not post regular Grange meetings to the event calendar–mostly because the maintenance would be too much for one person (me) to handle on a continuing basis. We will, however, post announcements like this when submitted.

Dec 152014
A mug WBBy Walter Boomsma,
Communications Director

While our Grange year is well underway, we are about to start a new calendar year. I’m not the sort who makes New Year’s Resolutions, but I do like to give some thought to what my priorities are for the upcoming year. Let me share with you what I see some of the priorities are for communication and the website.

  • Continue to maintain website with frequent posting of positive information of use and interest to members. Encourage use of the site as an information resource.
  • Remain available to directors and state officers to assist with communication and promotion of their events, contests, and other information.
  • Continue to publish the MSG Bulletin, keeping it coordinated with the MSG website and making it useful to members.
  • Produce a rack card of basic information regarding MSG to be used at conferences and conventions. I have this scheduled to be available for the Agricultural Trades Expo in January.
  • Develop a new membership application. This might actually be two projects. There is some sense that the membership application might be separate from a membership brochure.
  • Continue to encourage and participate in the leadership series.
  • Develop a statewide media list for electronic distribution of press releases and media advisories. An unfortunate reality is that the media’s interest in the Grange is often about our history and Grange closings. I often say “it is easier to make news than it is to write press releases,” but that doesn’t mean we can’t find some opportunities.
  • Work with State Master to develop a communications plan for State Conference. We have business to transact, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun and provide reasons for more folks to participate.
  • Streamline MSG website and look for opportunities to add value.
  • Additional projects as assigned by the State Master.

One overriding bias I have is that we remember we are at our best as a grassroots organization. State-level activities and programs will never be a substitute for an exciting local Grange. To that end, I see the communications and website function as one of service to our community Grange. What is needed in today’s society is not more “big” organizations. While technology makes it possible for global relationships, there is a profound opportunity for local connections.

I recently fielded a comment addressed to the webmaster of the Valley Grange website. It came from a single Mom who had recently moved to our area and she was struggling to provide a good Christmas for her three boys. I was able to provide some local connections that will give her the help she needs. And I followed up to make sure she’d made those connections.

We might find it interesting that she reached out to Valley Grange—she didn’t “Google” or use Facebook to announce her plight. The resources I introduced her to have a strong Internet presence and truly should not be that hard to locate. I believe she demonstrates the value of a strong Grange presence in the local community. Not only are people more comfortable with local contacts, local Granges and local Grangers can do things we at that State Level have no hope of achieving. With that as background, my priority is to help local Granges become an exciting Grange filled with exciting Grangers.

What are your Grange’s priorities?


Dec 152014
By Vicki HuffVicki - Sash (2)

While this column is written primarily for the Bulletin (which most Granges will not receive until after Christmas), posting to the website gives me an opportunity to wish all of you a Merry Christmas–however you celebrate it! We also are looking ahead to a new year.

A new year means new opportunities for our Granges. New chances for growth. I challenge each Grange to increase your membership by just one person this year. This is a conservative and very achievable challenge. When every Grange achieves this (notice I didn’t say “if”), we will have an increase of 126 members. That is 126 people who bring a multitude of skills, new ideas and helping hands to our organization.

I also challenge you to set some additional goals for your Grange for 2015—even if it’s just two or three. You might set some fundraising goals, community service goals, or hall improvement goals. Goals should be specific and, whenever possible, measurable. When setting goals we want to be very sure we know exactly what we’re trying to accomplish and how we will know if we have!

Goals should be challenging so that when they are accomplished there is a feeling of satisfaction of a job well done. Create goals that all can participate in working towards and helping achieve. When we have clear goals, we can regularly stop and look at how much time and energy we are placing towards achieving them.

My wish for all Granges, Grangers and prospective members a safe, healthy and prosperous New Year. May we all continue to “let it shine, let it shine, let it shine”.

Sorry this is so short. I have some training I need to get finished here at the office to complete my work goals.

Together Each Accomplishes More

Dec 152014

Androscoggin Pomona Christmas CollectionSMBy Steven Haycock

At a recent meeting of Androscoggin Pomona Grange members gathered for a their annual Christmas Program.  Members were also asked to bring a wrapped toy for the Hope Haven Gospel Mission in Lewiston.  During the program a fun selection of humorous holiday readings were read by the members and traditional Christmas songs were sung.  Pianist Louise Roberts won the attendance drawing.  Members have all year been doing the “It’s in the Bag” Fundraiser and turned in their funds at this meeting.  Anyone who forgot to bring their “It’s in the Bag” project can turn them into at the next meeting which will be on January 7 at Danville Junction Grange.  There will be 6:30 pm supper and a 7:30 pm meeting, the program will be Lecturer’s Choice.

Dec 142014
Communication Bullets are short but big news!

Communication Bullets are short but big news!

We’ve just been reminded that after 12/20/14 the room rates for the leadership conference in January will be increasing . A regular room will be $99.00 and a suite will be $139.00 per night.

Also, National Junior Director Lillian Booth will be attending to work with Junior Leaders.

Hotel information and conference schedule are both available on this site–visit the conference page.

Dec 142014

By Glenys Ryder

DanvilleDecSMOn Thursday evening, December 12, twenty-five members of Danville Junction Grange #65 braved the snow and ice to venture out, bearing gifts for the Salvation Army.  The table was laden down with books, toys, and games of all kinds!  There were even knit hats and mittens!  Pictured are Lillian, Gabby, Envoy Holly Johnson, and Community Service Chair Glenys Ryder.

Lecturer Thelma Quimby presented an interesting and entertaining Christmas program in which many of the members participated.  Louise Roberts of Excelsior Grange was our pianist for the evening.

Following the program were delicious refreshments served by Joyce MacDonald and Marilyn Redmun.

It was a wonderful evening, and members were glad that they had ventured out in the storm!

Dec 122014

caution signWe’ve received word from National Grange that they have “received a few complaints from members and non-members who have been contacted via phone from a company who is soliciting business not related or authorized by the National Grange. The phone number used to make these calls, are not originated from the National Grange toll-free number or any other phone number associated with the National Grange.”

It isn’t clear from the National Grange communication exactly how or why people are thinking these calls are somehow connected to them, but they want to assure members they “have not sold and will not sell or distribute member information to third party organizations for profit.”

This is a good time of year to remain alert and suspicious of any phone calls you get with a request for your personal information. Often times scam artists will know just enough about you to disarm you and gain your trust. Just as often they do not deserve your trust.

Your best response is to simply hang up. Engaging in conversation is fruitless and these callers are well-trained with techniques to solicit information from you. If you have received a call and given out personal information, you should monitor your personal accounts and credit reports for suspicious activity.

Please mention this to other Grangers… friends don’t let friends get scammed!