state of the maine grange

posted October 25, 2015

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STATE OF THE GRANGE
by Mary Pols
Originally Posted on the Portland Press Herlad

This week, the Maine State Grange holds its annual conference in Skowhegan.

What, you didn’t know?

Once upon a time, you absolutely would have known, because Grange was an integral part of Maine rural life, a gathering place for farmers and community members to share news, information and concerns. If you worried about being able to afford insurance or being ripped off by the railroad monopolies taking your agricultural products out of Maine, or just wanted to slough off your cares by going to a dance, you turned to the Grange. It did cooperative buys on insurance and seeds, lobbied Washington on your behalf and could always be relied on to feature a big empty room with a fine dance floor.

The ritual heavy, Christian-oriented and unusually progressive Grange (female members got the vote long before the rest of American women did) was the original Facetime for farmers. Or rather, “Grange.” Like Farm Bureau, Grange hardly needed an article. But consider this: The 2015 Maine State Grange conference is not being held at Skowhegan Grange, because declining membership caused that to close several years ago, although the building was saved and is being rehabbed.

There are two trends in Maine Granges. One is positive: Young or younger farmers are taking an interest in revitalizing the institution, fixing up old buildings; adding bathrooms where there were none; hosting farmers markets and contra dances; sharing Grange space with entertainment, as at the Wayside Grange and Theatre in Dexter; and returning to the cooperative model for better buying power for local farmers, hobby or hard-core, as at the Halcyon Grange in North Blue Hill.

But the second trend, the negative one, are Granges shutting for lack of membership, and that decline still outweighs the positive.

Read the whole article at the Portland Press Herald!


maine grange halls

posted October 18, 2015

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Photographer, Rose Marasco, has developed a large collection of photographs of the aging Grange halls of Maine. The halls in her photographs are at once regal relics of the past and a little spooky, leaving us both nostalgic and slightly unsettled by their slight disrepair. See a sampling of the collection on her website.

A limited number of signed exhibition catalogues are available and includes essays by Frank Gohlke, photographer and Elspeth Brown, historian. To purchase a copy for $20. + $5. shipping. Please contact Rosa at info@rosemarasco.com if you would like one.


the west coast grange wars

posted June 14, 2015

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On one hand you have an established order that, while quick to conjure its Populist origins, appears threatened by the kind of grassroots change it once championed. On the other, a contingent of rogue Grangers—progressives decidedly less interested in nostalgia than their national counterpart—attempting to breathe new life into an aging system that doesn’t seem to want the CPR.

The Grange, once a longstanding institution in American rural and agrarian communities, stands poised for a revival after decades of increasing obsolescence– expect that it’s at war with itself.

In a captivating article feature on In These Times, John Collins takes on the history of The Grange, the recent polemical schism between the California Grange and the national organization, and Grange Future— an initiative co-founded by the Greenhorns.



greenhorns at healdsburg shed!

posted March 6, 2014

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Friday March 7th, 7pm at the Healdsburg Shed
PUNK YEOMAN: The Past and Future of the Grange

Join Greenhorns founder Severine Von Tscharner Fleming and evangelist Jen Griffith for a lively evening of learning as we focus on modern farming in their presentation “Grange Future”.

Grange Future is a community history project undertaken by The Greenhorns, a young farmers network, to help interpret both the past and future of the Grange movement, not in a nostalgic or abstract way, but as an appropriate institutional format for contemporary users who are concerned with rebuilding our food system. For today’s young farmers the Grange is a kind of syllabus in community-scale organizing, regional development, cooperative economics and kinship-based policy advocacy. (more…)



greenhorns at shed!

posted February 16, 2014

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Join Greenhorns founder Severine Von Tscharner Fleming and evangelist Jen Griffith for an evening of learning as we focus on the past and future of modern farming, “Grange Future.” Learn about the early and more recent history of the Grange, the controversy with California State Grange halls and GMO labeling, and the revival across the country of farmer-driven educational, social, charitable, and political uses of Grange halls, Grange kitchens, and the Grange idea.

Tickets HERE
http://healdsburgshed.com/