WABI TV5 Crew Visits PCES and GrowME

WABI GrowME 2015

Third graders at PCES were already pretty excited because Valley Grange volunteers and bookworms Mrs. Boomsma and Ms. Erwin were coming to help them make “dirt babies” as part of the GrowME Collaboration. But they became even more pumped when they saw WABI’s Caitlin Burchill and a camera operator headed their way. One teacher asked us to pop in and say “Hi” to the kids… and a third grader came rushing up to Cait with a quickly made card for the “wether woman” that said inside, “I love you!”

The resulting video can be viewed on the WABI TV 5 website.

GrowME is a collaboration between Valley Grange, PCSWCD (Piscataquis Soil and Water Conservation District) and UMaine Piscataquis County Extension to build a truly local program of agriculturally themed, hands on activities for kids led by local volunteers. This year’s volunteers included Grangers, Master Gardeners, 4-H Club Members, and community citizens interested in GrowingME, growing kids, and growing plants!

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GrowME 2015 Sprouts!

GrowME logoWhile it might be difficult to think about gardening and farming in mid-January, a group of volunteers are doing just that as they are preparing a fourth year of 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.

GrowME 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. One of his specialties is visiting second graders at PCES to make butter. “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.” Volunteers also conduct seed planting activities, apple tasting and create animal graphs. “We also spend some time just talking with the kids—many have chickens and gardens and it’s fun to share experiences.”

Boomsma notes that last year volunteers visited with over 60 classrooms and 800 kids “from Greenville to Dexter to Milo,” but says 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 thirty 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 or call Boomsma at 343-1842. An online sign-up form is also available at http://growmehelp.wordpress.com.

Bringing Home the Blue

20140823_71SMValley Grange left the Piscataquis Valley Fair and brought home the Blue Ribbon for it’s “Then and Now” Grange booth.  The display also turned out to be a traffic stopper as some of the older folks remembered… and some of the younger folks said, “What is that?!” Telephones seemed to be of particular interest with children and grandchildren expressing disbelief that their parents and grandparents actually talked “into those things.”

The display also featured information about Valley’s many community service efforts ranging from Words for Thirds Dictionary Days to Coups for Troops. Examples of handcrafts and agriculture rounded out the display which remained in place throughout the fair.

The display was assembled by Mary and Jim Annis, Janice Boomsma, Linda Erwin, and Bob Carroll in the hopes fair-goers would enjoy the contrasts and learn more about the Grange.

20140823_72SM

Eat and Learn with Extension

Saturday, September 6 Valley Grange hosts the UMaine Extension Piscataquis County Annual Supper and Meeting and it looks like there’s going to be something for everyone!

logo-piscataquis-santaAnother yummy supper is prepared by Penquis Volunteers and all proceeds will benefit Piscataquis Santa. Supper will be served from 5 PM until 7 PM. The meal deal will feature locally grown produce… baked ham, carrots, turnip, squash, potatoes and gravy… apple crisp for desert! Minimum donation is $8 for adults, $4 for kids 3-12, under 3 eat free! Remember, 100% of the proceeds benefit the Piscataquis Santa Fund! (There will only be 110 days until Christmas from this event!)

A LOGOThe program parts include lots of exciting things! Prior to and during supper there will be Extension exhibits and demonstrations including a working bee hive and information on gardening, farming and nutrition. Bring your gardening, farming, nutrition, 4-H questions! There will also be lots of material available… The annual meeting starting at 7 PM will feature highlights of local programming and a feature presentation by John Jemison, UMaine Extension Agronomist, “Think Globally; Eat Locally.” All exhibits, demonstrations, and the program are free!

This is collaboration and cooperation at its best! You can come to one thing or you can come to everything!

Health Beat – May 2014

Heart

Dr. Lesley Fernow writes a column called “Senior Matters” for the Piscataquis Observer in Dover Foxcroft. Valley Grange is privileged to have permission to use her past columns for our  “Health Beat” Feature and for the information to be reposted to the Maine State Grange website. Address your questions or comments  to lmf@fernowmedicalhousecalls.com, 207-992-6822. Please note that information is general in nature and specific questions should be addressed to your health care professional.

Gardening for Seniors

How can you enjoy working out, eating local produce, and enhancing your total well being affordably all summer?  Garden!  Gardening builds and strengthens muscles, providing full body exercise for people of all ages.  An hour of steadily digging, weeding, and mulching is the equivalent of taking 10,000 steps!  Enjoying ripe tomatoes and other fresh produce will double your rewards.  Canning or freezing some of your crop will further extend the benefits of your labor well into the winter.

Inviting a friend or young child to work with you may enrich your experience and socially engage your mind in ways that are known to protect against cognitive decline.  While you’re in your garden, take care to plant some pumpkins.  You’ll have homegrown jack-o-lanterns in the fall, and you can harvest the seeds.  Pumpkin seeds are a “super food” containing high levels of fiber and protein.  They may also contribute to prostate health, bone strength, and help to prevent arthritis.  Blueberries are full of antioxidants that boost your immune system.  Other foods you may want to grow in your garden that have crucial nutrients to prevent disease include garlic, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, and onions.

For tips on planting a successful garden, call the Piscataquis Cooperative Extension office at 564-3301, or check out their website at  http://umaine.edu/gardening/

You may also qualify for Senior FarmShare, a program that provides fresh seasonal foods for eligible seniors.  You can learn more about this program by calling Eastern Area Agency on Aging at 1.877.353.3771, or by visiting www.getrealmaine.com

We shaked it! And then we shaked it ten times!

In case you missed it, here’s the link to the GrowME news story by ABC-7/FOX-22:

http://www.foxbangor.com/news/local-news/4817-second-graders-make-butter-learn-agriculture.html

News Anchor Brian Shawver "gets down" (literally) with a couple butter-makers.

News Anchor Brian Shawver “gets down” (literally) with a couple butter-makers.

A Plant-astic Ag-stravaganza!

GrowME logoCommunity invited to celebrate GrowME Growth

Guilford–Valley Grange will host an “Agstravaganza” on Friday, March 28th at their hall on the corner of Butter Street and Guilford Center Road. The Grange is one of three collaborating organizations who sprouted and nurtured the GrowME Project. Grange Program Director Walter Boomsma says, “There’s a lot to celebrate! The numbers are still coming in but it looks like our volunteers will reach nearly 50 classrooms and over 750 students. I think we’ve lost count of volunteers because we seem to add more every day.”

The GrowME program was hatched in 2011 when three local organizations with an interest in agriculture decided there was an opportunity to assist schools and teachers by providing some “hands on” activities with an agricultural theme. Valley Grange was joined by Piscataquis Soil and Water Conservation and District and the Piscataquis County UMaine Extension and the three organizations agreed on a mission to “build a truly local program of agriculturally themed activities for kids led by local volunteers with the goal of increasing agricultural literacy and making it fun!”

During the week prior to the Agstravaganza volunteers will be visiting grades K through 3 throughout the county with activities like creating animal graphs, apples to apples tasting and sorting, making butter, and making dirt babies. Boomsma notes that “our Grange loves an opportunity to invite the community to our hall, but it seemed particularly appropriate to have a community celebration of our achievements and agriculture in general. We’ll have a great potluck supper and brief program to share highlights from GrowME.”

The event is not just for people involved in GrowME—it is open to anyone who supports the idea of community and collaborating. The Grange promises to a “family friendly” event and hopes volunteers, teachers, kids, and parents will come.  The “Plantastic Agstravaganza” features a community potluck supper at 6:00 PM—bring a dish to share! A brief meeting at 7 PM will cover some highlights of the GrowME collaboration and some agricultural related information. Attendees are invited to bring an old-time farm, gardening, or home device to display as part of “what is it?” table.

Don’t forget to bring some “Coups for Troops!” (Coupons for our military families stationed abroad.)

Additional information is available on the GrowME website.

Health Beat – March 2014

Heart

Dr. Lesley Fernow writes a column called “Senior Matters” for the Piscataquis Observer in Dover Foxcroft. Valley Grange is privileged to have permission to use her past columns for our  “Health Beat” Feature and for the information to be reposted to the Maine State Grange website. Address your questions or comments  to lmf@fernowmedicalhousecalls.com, 207-992-6822. Please note that information is general in nature and specific questions should be addressed to your health care professional.


How can you enjoy working out, eating local produce, and enhancing your total wellbeing affordably all summer?  Garden!  Gardening builds and strengthens muscles, providing full body exercise for people of all ages.  An hour of steadily digging, weeding, and mulching is the equivalent of taking 10,000 steps!  Enjoying ripe tomatoes and other fresh produce will double your rewards.  Canning or freezing some of your crop will further extend the benefits of your labor well into the winter.

Inviting a friend or young child to work with you may enrich your experience and socially engage your mind in ways that are known to protect against cognitive decline.  While you’re in your garden, take care to plant some pumpkins.  You’ll have homegrown jack-o-lanterns in the fall, and you can harvest the seeds.  Pumpkin seeds are a “super food” containing high levels of fiber and protein.  They may also contribute to prostate health, bone strength, and help to prevent arthritis.  Blueberries are full of antioxidants that boost your immune system.  Other foods you may want to grow in your garden that have crucial nutrients to prevent disease include garlic, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, and onions.

For tips on planting a successful garden, call the Piscataquis Cooperative Extension office at 564-3301, or check out their website at  http://umaine.edu/gardening/

You may also qualify for Senior FarmShare, a program that provides fresh seasonal foods for eligible seniors.  You can learn more about this program by calling Eastern Area Agency on Aging at 1.877.353.3771, or by visiting www.getrealmaine.com

GrowME Sprouts and Spurts!

Local collaboration will provide classroom activities

GrowME logoDover Foxcroft — While 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 grange@boomsmaonline.com or call Boomsma at 343-1842. An online sign-up form is also available at http://growmehelp.wordpress.com.

Home on the Grange – Part One

In case you missed the live broadcast… here’s a link to the feature story by Joy Hollowell, WABI TV 5:

Home on the Grange (Part One)

Home on the Grange (Part Two)