Oct 312015

HeatherBy Heather Retberg

Heather and Phil Retberg together with their three children run Quill’s End Farm, a 105 acre property in Penobscot that they bought in 2004. They use rotational grazing on their fifteen open acres and are renovating thirty more acres from woods to pasture to increase grazing for their pigs, grass-fed cattle, lambs, laying hens, and goats. Heather is Master of Halcyon Grange #345 and writes a newsletter for their farm’s buying clubs for farmers in her area and has generously given us permission to share some of her columns with Grangers throughout the state.


While late October begins to blow the leaves from the trees and the apples hold on still, everything on the farm is geared toward preparation now for the season ahead.  The work blew in and out of each day this week in spurts and fits just like the wind.  While milking and animal tending bookend each day, the times in between were filled with a range of activities so diverse as the different shapes and colors falling from the trees.

The greenhouse, collapsed under the weight of last winter’s snows, has at last been disassembled, its metal and wooden skeleton lying in tidy piles in the garden, its ripped plastic covering like shed skin lies folded beside.  Somewhere under all that wreckage lay a sigh of relief at the sunken greenhouse being cleared from sight, but also that sharp breath inward at steps backward to go forward.  The laying hens have been closed into their mobile coop to come up the hill again to winter shelter and light and more warmth.  Then, there were days of apple harvesting, pie-making, carrot harvesting at our friends’ farm with so many other friends; there was dancing and merriment at the Grange under twinkling lights; there was the Maine State Grange Convention and support won for food sovereignty with a resolution to support our efforts in Augusta.  There were meals of harvest still so colorful at season’s end, there were championships run on the cross country course where Ben was so powerfully fast and Carolyn so relentlessly cheerful.

There was weariness and worn-ness.  There was rest.

The wind has picked up on the ridge, the leaves are blowing along with the rain.  Yet, tonight, the skies above cleared to reveal an almost-full bright moon shining rays on the ribbons of clouds beneath.

The fog settled in over the fields and orchards blanketing the apples for the night,  concealing the hens and garden leaving only the shadows of cows and the reflection of the moonlight on the pond where ducks laugh their duckly chorus good night.

Fall is whispering its late lullaby to the farm, with its preparation refrain.

It’s time to get ready, the whisper grows louder and louder as the bright moon shines on.


Grange members are invited to submit guest columns to Views from the Farm for consideration by emailing the webmaster. Please note that the views and opinions expressed in contributed articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the Grange.

Oct 292015
posted by Walter Boomsma, Communications Director

I recently stumbled on to this video produced in 2006 by MPBN–doesn’t seem possible, but that’s nearly a decade ago. There have been a number of changes even in that relatively short time. For example, featured Houlton Grange once thought to be the largest Grange in the world is now closed and a part of history. As I watched it, I was struck by the narrator’s observation that in its early days the Grange had “an unusually progressive attitude.” I wonder how much that attitude contributed to the growth and success of the Grange then. And I wonder how much that attitude has changed since…


(Website subscribers may need to visit the website to view the video.)

Oct 282015

submitted by Bonnie Anderson

On Thursday, October 22nd, at the 142nd Annual Convention of the Maine State Grange, George and Joan Mason were presented with the Firefighter/EMT of the Year Award… read the full story in the Bangor Daily News!

George and Joan Mason of Howland Receive Service Award From State Grange

Oct 282015

Let’s try this! This is a challenging time of the year as we attempt to ensure that we have accurate contact information for officers, directors, and deputies and get all information updated such as new program books, etc.. Contact information is listed in any number of places, but the three related to the Communications Department that are most important are the Leadership Directory we publish on the website, the phone number list published with each monthly Bulletin, and the email distribution list we maintain as a communication tool. Several have already submitted information, thank you!

If you click the “continue reading” tab you’ll find a simple form that will allow you to submit your contact information “online.” Note this is currently only available to officers, directories, and deputies elected or appointed to serve starting this year. Subordinate and Pomona Granges must continue to use the required forms to submit information.

Continue reading »

Oct 282015

Photo by Steven Haycock

MSG Officers 2015-2017

From Left to Right…

Treasurer: James Owens – Bingham Grange
Secretary: Sharon Morton – Willow Grange
Lady Assistant Steward: Roberta Meserve – Danville Junction Grange
Executive Committee: Glenys Ryder – Danville Junction Grange
Overseer: Sherry Harriman – Bauneg Beg Grange
Assistant Steward: Clyde Berry – Mt Philip Grange
Master: Rick Grotton – Meenahga Grange
Executive Committee: Steve Call – Minerva Grange
Lecturer: Kathy Lorrain – Danville Junction Grange
Steward: Mike Griffin – North Scarborough Grange
Chaplain: Dolores Moore – East Eddington Grange
Executive Committee: Jim Meserve – Chelsea Grange
Executive Committee: Nancy Clark – Harraseeket Grange
Gatekeeper: Terry Spencer – Bingham Grange
Pomona: Laurie McBurnie – Meenahga Grange
Flora: Debbie Ivers – Highland Lake Grange
Ceres: Gladys Chapman – Danville Junction Grange

Oct 262015

Vicki - Sash (2)October 25, 2016

To all Maine Grangers,

First, let me say “thank you” for your confidence and support while I served as Master of the Maine State Grange. No doubt many of you were shocked to hear that I declined to accept the office for another term.  I want to dispel any rumors and help you understand the reason for this difficult decision.

Thirteen days ago I learned that I have a major health issue. The next six months are going to be very rough for me and those closest to me. I truly felt it was in the best interest of the Grange that I not try to serve as your Master while facing this challenge. I knew I would not be able to focus on the work that needs to be done. We have so many opportunities; the office requires and deserves full focus.

I love the Grange and all it stands for. I loved being your State Master.  I ask that you give our new Master, Brother Rick Grotton, and the other officers the same respect and support that you have shown me. This organization needs to be strong and move forward. Please keep the positive thoughts and prayers coming as the Maine State Grange and I will need them. Together, “I know we can, I know we can, I know we can.”


Vicki Huff
Past Master, Maine State Grange

Oct 242015

congrats_sticky_note_400_clr_10486The following officers were elected during the Maine State Grange Annual Convention. Apologies for any names that are misspelled, but my goal was to get the information to the membership as quickly as practical. Please note that it will likely take at least a few days for all the changes to be accomplished throughout the site and appointments to be made. You can help by being patient and, if you were elected, sending your contact information (email address and phone number) to webmasteratmainestategrangedotorg  (webmasteratmainestategrangedotorg)  .

Master—Rick Grotton

Overseer—Sherry Harriman

Lecturer—Cathy Lorraine

Steward—Mike Griffin

Assistant Steward—Clyde Berry

Lady Assistant Steward—Roberta Meserve

Chaplain—Dolores Moore

Treasurer—James Owens

Secretary—Sharon Morton

Gatekeeper—Terry Spencer

Ceres—Gladys Chapman

Pomona—Laurie McBurnie

Flora—Debra Ivers

Executive Committee 4-year term—James Meserve


Oct 232015

Vicki - Sash (2)To Sister Claire Logan, Ceres of the National Grange, Brother Steve Logan, Past Master of the RI State Grange, the Officers, Delegates and Members of the Maine State Grange,

I am proud to present you with my third address as your State Master.


The Granges in Maine have had many accomplishments over the past year. We once again met the percentage goal needed to receive funds from National Grange for Community Service. Congratulations Sister Chris and thank you for your leadership. CWA has reported an increase in contest entries and most of our items that went on to the Big E came home with placement ribbons. Let’s give both committees a round of applause.

The Big E

Thanks to the generous donations of handcrafted items the New England Grange Building has an approximate profit of $25,000 dollars this year. There were a few rainy days that set us back a little but this may be the third or fourth highest profit for the Store. The building is a place to be proud of and the Big E is the fifth largest fair in the country. The sale of handmade items is 100% profit and this enables the Trustees to make needed repairs and the Grange to have a presence at the Fair. Maine Grangers once again increased the number of items made and sent to be sold at the Big E


Young people are the future of this organization, but that will only be true if we involve and engage them. If there is just one child involved with your Grange, they can become a Junior Granger by enrolling as a member of the State Junior Grange. It is not necessary for your Grange to start a Junior Grange, although that would be great! Getting our children and grandchildren formally involved in the Junior program creates opportunities for them to participate in contests and programs and helps us build our membership.


I want to thank the Agriculture Directors, their committee, the Legislative Director and his committee, the State Grange Secretary and Administrative Coordinator for all the work that goes into making Agriculture Day at the State Legislature a success. This hard work and time-consuming event is made possible through your efforts. When greeting the Legislators as they come in many of them say this is the day they look forward to the most. They enjoy the home cooking provided by our members as most other organizations provide them with a fancy dinner at a local restaurant or a catered event at a local convention site. It is a privilege to accept the praise on your behalf.

In your packets is the Maine State Grange Legislative Policy statement. Brother Jim Annis went through the policy which pretty much was a list of all the resolves from passed resolutions and turned it in to a document with sentence structure. The committee then reviewed the policy, made some changes and the document is now ready for your review. Please look it over. You will have the opportunity to make changes if you feel they are necessary during this session. The resolution, passed at the 2014 Convention, required the creation of a document that we could hand to anyone and say, “This is what the Maine State Grange has voted on and supports.” This can be a powerful document. Legislators are most concerned about their constituents that vote and Grangers vote.


One of my goals this past year was to work on the budget. I appointed four members to the budget committee, Steve Call, Maynard Chapman, Jim Owens and Dave Gowen. All but one of their recommendations is reflected in the budget located in your packets. The one remaining recommendation will be presented now. The recommendation is to sell the building located at 146 State Street in Augusta. Everyone breathe as I explain why. The upkeep and maintenance of the building are where most of our money goes. We have made capital improvements over the last few years to maintain the integrity of the building including new metal roof and new furnace. These did not come cheaply. We receive income from the tenants but if you look closely at the Headquarters budget you will see that the income is nowhere near the expense. We pay rent to ourselves to maintain the building and that money comes from the dormant Grange Fund. At the current rate of spending the money from that fund will be depleted in less than 5 years. We have had a Commercial REALTOR come and look at the building and have been told we should be able to sell it for between five – six hundred thousand dollars, the city of Augusta values it at five hundred and fifty thousand. The committee and I recommend speaking with Kennebec Savings Bank and see what they will offer us for the building. They have expressed an interest in purchasing it in the past and we have a gentlemen’s agreement that we would give them first refusal. If they will not give us the price we want then the building would be put on the market.

This does not mean that we would not have a Headquarters building. There are smaller, more modern locations that are available for purchase and we would use a portion of the proceeds to purchase a small office building. We have already looked at a building that is available here in the Skowhegan area. This building is on the market for two-hundred and thirty thousand dollars and was built in 2002. It is a smaller, fuel efficient building with less up keep. The building at 146 State Street was appropriate for the Maine State Grange at the time it was purchased. It has met our needs for nearly 75 years, but the needs of the Maine State Grange are not what they were 75 years ago. We are a much smaller organization, travel is different now and we no longer have the connection with our State Legislature that we once did. As an organization, we cannot afford to maintain the building located at 146 State Street. My recommendation is that we sell the building and have the Master and Executive Committee look into purchasing another smaller building that meets the needs of the Maine State Grange today. When the Master’s Address Committee meets they have the opportunity to accept or reject this recommendation as part of their committee report.

One of the items discussed during the budget committee was a dues increase. We all felt that raising the dues was not a solution to the problem. We understand that money is tight for the local Granges and the types of fundraising that we used to do simply do not work with the numbers of members most of the Granges have today. The Grange at all levels needs to think outside of the box and come up with ways to increase revenue without increasing dues. We felt at this point we needed to tighten our belts a little more and actively cut operating cost and those changes are reflected in the budget as presented.

Our image in the Community

I am very thankful to those Granges that have been working on making their Grange Halls more attractive. Our Grange buildings generally are what people associate with our organization. They can give the impression that the Grange is busy or not, and that the Grangers take pride in their building or not. When folks drive by the Grange hall in your community what impression will they receive? Granges should be welcoming and inviting. People need to feel comfortable when they are in our buildings. I have heard that people think of Granges as a place where they can be “safe”. Does your Grange Hall feel safe? “Safety means you have up to date fire extinguishers… your kitchen is clean… and it means people feel surrounded by caring, compassionate people.” This is what we are taught when we do the altar circles in the fourth degree.

One of the successes we had this year was a workshop featuring leadership and sharing from some of our Granges that are making a difference. I am hoping that we can make this a traveling workshop. I would like to see this done a couple of times over the next year and in different parts of the state. Those who attended felt it was well worth the couple of hours of their time and that they did get something out of it. This wasn’t just rhetoric or “preaching,” these Granges offered proven “how to” methods for building Granges and increasing membership.We need to share more of our successes, small successes breed big successes and we can accomplish more taking one step at a time.

The more that we are out in the community and showing that we are still an active, vital part of our community the more people will want to know what the Grange is. Being involved in the community and trying to fill the community need has allowed Granges such as Halcyon, Highland Lake and Danville Junction to continue to grow and be successful. We can no longer think that people want to join us. We have to show them what they are missing. As Wes Ryder, “my Dad,” would say,“They are missing the fun, food and fellowship.” Where else but in the Grange can you have such an extended family?

Granges in Maine need to continue to make a difference in their communities. This is what makes us who we are. We can still make a difference in the lives of the people closest to us.  We can and still need to shine, shine shine. Like Thomas the Train says “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” Like Thomas we have obstacles to climb and together. “I know we can, I know we can, I know we can.”


In May Michael Martin, then National Leadership/Membership Director and I held workshops for the Granges in Washington and West Washington Pomonas. We need to continue working with the new Membership/Leadership Director Joe Stefanoni. We will continue with these very valuable tools and plan two more workshops next year in other parts of the state. Michael did leave some extra packets and if you would like to take one back with you please see me, first come basis I only have about a dozen.


There have been two really great articles published on the Grange in the past two months. The first one came out in the September issue of the Bangor Metro Magazine and is an extremely positive article. The second one was in The Source an insert in this past Sunday’s Telegram. While the media does not always get all the facts straight the article gives a fairly accurate description of the Grange today. There have been other articles in the past year regarding specific Granges who have been trying to generate an interest and what the Grange means to that community. The majority of the time publicity is a good thing and the more information we can give them to show that we are still relevant the better our chances of creating a positive image. We create the positive image and the media reports it. I know we can! I know we can! I know we can!

Tools at our Disposal

As the Granges in Maine move into the future we have all the tools we need to make our Granges grow.

  1. We have to plant the seed. Just like we are taught in the first degree we have to till the soil we also have to till the mind of the person we are asking to be a member. We need to know what kind of soil/mind we are working with.
  1. We are taught in the second degree that we need to nurture and cultivate. We need to do the same with new members. If we tend them, give them support as they grow it gives us a better crop. Tending and cultivating new members takes time but they will be better, stronger members if we take the time to teach them and help them grow.
  1. When they are ripe it is time to harvest. We have to remember some plants need to be harvested earlier than others. Some grow faster and others take their time to ripen and mature. As Grangers we need to use good judgment on when a member is ready to be picked.
  1. We enjoy together the fruits of our labors but only for a short time because the seasons will once again change and it will be time to plant once again.

We need to keep repeating the cycle. This will ensure that the Grange will continue long in to the future. “I know we can, I know we can, I know we can.”

I am very proud to serve as your State Grange Master. I could not do this without the support of all of you and the support of my family and very close friends. To the person who critiques my Masters column, this address and is an amazing sounding board thank you for believing in me and pushing me and giving me the occasional swift kick when I need it. You are a wonderful friend. To the “love of my life,” your support of my dreams, your countless hours spent at home alone do not go unnoticed. I can never thank you enough for being my rock, you are always there for me. I love you “Handsome.” To Sharon, Jim and The Executive Committee your knowledge makes this job much easier and to the members of  the Granges in Maine thank you for your faith in me.

I know we can, I know we can, I know we can!

Respectfully submitted

Victoria S. Huff

Oct 202015

NewsThere’s an interesting poll accompanying this article, recently published in the Portland Press Herald! The poll question asks whether or not the reader has attended an event at a Grange Hall. When I checked it just a few minutes ago 64% said “yes,” 27% said “no,” and the remaining 9% indicated that they’d never heard of the Grange. As with most statistics, this poll might raise more questions than it answers.

The article itself appears well-researched but does contain a few minor inaccuracies–many Grangers will spot them quickly. But don’t be distracted by them, because the article does seem to be attempting to tell an objective story and does provide some interesting food for thought.

Click and read the comments, too… there will be some by people you know!



Oct 172015

Help WantedThe Communications Department has formalized the recent articles regarding Grange traditions and ritual into an ongoing series called “Exploring Traditions—meandering around the Grange Way of Life.” We’re also extremely pleased to introduce a new series called “View from the Farm” that will include thoughts on farming and agriculture. Both of these columns are opportunities for any and all to participate in the Bulletin and website by contributing an article—either on one of these two topics or something else that would be of interest to Grangers. Our goal is to continue to develop deeper communication via the Bulletin and website and to provide depth and diversity of information available to members.

If you have an idea or article, please submit it for consideration. Articles may be submitted via email to the webmaster or via “snail mail” to Walter Boomsma, 17 River Road, Abbot ME 04406