Maine Granger Pens Book on Order

BY LORETTA NIETO
Communication Fellow at National Grange Convention

Signing

Photo by Karie Blasingame

There are many current Grangers who do not have a full understanding of why the Grange participates and carries on the many traditions that it does, therefore, Walter Boomsma wrote the book titled, “Exploring Traditions–Celebrating the Grange Way of Life.”

This book is not a manual expressing how people can become Grangers. However, it is an explanation of the many traditions and rituals that Grangers have practiced for 150 years.

A Granger of 16 years and a communication director of the state of Maine, Boomsma had been writing monthly columns about exploring traditions in the Grange for three years. Then he was presented with the idea of gathering all of the columns he had written and publishing them as a book. In agreement to the idea, Boomsma felt that it was important to revive the understanding of the many rituals and traditions that Grangers participate in because many individuals have lost their understanding within the 150 years of why they do what they do.

“My main example is the ritual of being mindful of when to cross and not cross between the altar and the Graces. Many Grangers do not know why this is a ritual and they follow it because that’s all they have ever known. The reason it is important is because it is a form of respect for women” Boomsma said.

So he decided to expand on what the mission of Grange is, the purposes that Grange was built on and showing readers that the Grange is more than a historical organization. The Grange teaches ways of life and how working through communities makes the world a more efficient place.

In Stowe, Vermont at the National Convention on Wednesday morning Boomsma will be holding a book signing. “The message that I want people to take away after reading my book is that the Grange has a huge opportunity to become more relevant through its rituals” and in order to fulfill becoming more relevant Grangers have to learn that middle ground, consisting of keeping rituals but being comfortable with  transitioning into modern-day styles, Boomsma said. Letting go of the phrase, “that’s the way we have always done it,” is the primary step of moving forward to letting the Grange flourish as an organization.

Maine member releases easy-to-read book ‘Exploring Traditions’ of the Grange

Reprinted from the September 2018 issue of The Patrons Chain–The Official Newsletter of the National Grange


Walter Boomsma, Program Director of Valley Grange and Maine State Grange Communications Director has authored the book, “Exploring Traditions–Celebrating the Grange Way of Life.”

While this is not his first book, Boomsma believes it may be one of his most important.

“The primary goal in writing it was to encourage exploration,” Boomsma said. “The Grange is a 150-year-old organization with a strong agricultural focus and many are questioning its relevance to today’s society. I wanted to encourage people to develop a deeper understanding of what the Grange is all about–including our members. The Grange is very much about a way of life and, while farming has changed, people have not.”

Boomsma said he also believes people who are not familiar with the Grange will appreciate exploring the value of tradition in general since “tradition and ritual create stability and a sense of community, especially when we understand the basis for them.”

Betty Van Dyke accepts the “very first copy” of Exploring Traditions from Walter Boomsma, the author.

National Grange Master Betsy Huber provided a foreward to the book, in which she wrote, “These essays by Walter Boomsma unpack the teachings of the Grange and relate them to today’s world
and our everyday lives. He has a gift for taking the lessons from the farm and showing their relevance today, even for those whose only interaction with agriculture happens through their food and clothing choices. He understands the meaning the Grange Founders intended and interprets the sometimes archaic language to reveal the principles they wanted to teach to farm families who often had no other opportunity for education.“

Boomsma dedicated the book to a woman he affectionately calls a “Granger Extraordinaire,” Betty Van Dyke of Guilford. During a presentation of the first copy of the book, Boomsma said Van
Dyke explained the great influence she had during his “formative years” as a Grange member.

“I came to appreciate both her knowledge of the Grange’s teachings and her commitment to what I later came to understand as ‘the Grange Way of Life.’”

At the height of her Grange career, Van Dyke held a number of local and state positions, including serving as the Maine State Community Service Director. At 94, Van Dyke still keeps track of what’s going on at Valley Grange and is a strong supporter.

Boomsma will sign copies of the book at the 152nd Annual Convention where it will be available for sale. It is also available through the Grange Supply Store. Contact Loretta Washington at sales@nationalgrange.org or by phone at (202) 628-3507 ext. 109.

Betty Van Dyke Honored…

BV and WB

Betty Van Dyke receives the first copy of “Exploring Traditions” from Author Walter Boomsma

Guilford–Betty Van Dyke of Guilford was recently notified that a soon to be released book is dedicated to her. Walter Boomsma, Program Director of Valley Grange and Maine State Grange Communications Director has authored the book, “Exploring Traditions–Celebrating the Grange Way of Life.” He dedicated the book to Van Dyke, calling her a “Granger Extraordinaire” and explaining the great influence she had during his “formative years” as a Grange member.   “I came to appreciate both her knowledge of the Grange’s teachings and her commitment to what I later came to understand as ‘the Grange Way of Life.'”

At the height of her Grange career, Van Dyke held a number of local and state positions, including serving as the Maine State Community Service Director. At 94, Van Dyke still keeps track of what’s going on at Valley Grange and is a strong supporter.

Boomsma describes his latest book as serving a dual purpose. “The primary goal in writing it was to encourage exploration. The Grange is a 150-year-old organization with a strong agricultural focus and many are questioning its relevance to today’s society. I wanted to encourage people to develop a deeper understanding of what the Grange is all about–including our members.  The Grange is very much about a way of life and, while farming has changed, people have not.” He also believes people who are not familiar with the Grange will appreciate exploring the value of tradition in general since “Tradition and ritual create stability and a sense of community, especially when we understand the basis for them.”

In her foreward to the book, National Grange Master Betsy Huber writes, “These essays by Walter Boomsma unpack the teachings of the Grange and relate them to today’s world and our everyday lives.  He has a gift for taking the lessons from the farm and showing their relevance today, even for those whose only interaction with agriculture happens through their food and clothing choices.  He understands the meaning the Grange Founders intended and interprets the sometimes archaic language to reveal the principles they wanted to teach to farm families who often had no other opportunity for education. “

The book is available through a number of outlets including Amazon and Barnes and Noble as well as the Grange’s National Supply Store.

 

Officer Installation at Garland Grange

Installation 2018 Postcard

It’s Grange Month!

by Mary Annis, Valley Grange Secretary

The Grange is now just over 150 years old.  On December 4, 1867, sitting around a plain wooden table in Washington, DC, seven men organized the Grange. They were all men of vision – had faith in God, their fellow man, and the future. Their focus was on agriculture and the principle that life would not exist without farming. From these humble beginnings, a fraternal order known as the Patrons of Husbandry was born.

Through the years the Grange has been responsible for many projects that have made life better for both farmers and the average citizen. In 1896, the Order was the impetus behind getting the Rural Free Delivery system implemented. This allowed the mail to be delivered directly to farm families who used to have to travel for miles into town to pick up their mail.  And, of course, it continues to this day.

When the Grange was organized the forward-thinking men recognized the importance of women in the farm household.  This was well before women had the right to vote.  In the Grange, there are four offices that can only be held by women. And they were also given an equal voice in all matters coming before the body with full voting privileges.

Do you have an idea to make life better? In the Grange, there is a way to see your ideas come into being.  In your local Grange, you can write a resolution explaining your idea and present it to the members. The members discuss it and vote on it. If passed it goes on to the County Grange, or Pomona Grange, where the same happens. Then it will go to the State Grange and be presented at their annual conference, discussed and passed. It is a great way to have your voice heard.

There are several active Granges locally. Our Grange is Valley Grange, located at 172 Guilford Center Road. We do many activities throughout the year to help our community.  From Project Linus to knitting to working on several projects with the local school children, it’s all a labor of love.  To find out more about the Granges nearby you can visit the Maine State Grange website (mainestategrange.org) or the Valley Grange website (valleygrange.com). We are a friendly group of people and love to have visitors at our meetings.  The next meeting scheduled for Valley Grange is May 18, when we will be presenting our Community Citizen of the Year Award.  It’s an “open” meeting, beginning at 6 pm with a potluck supper and the ceremonies beginning at 7 pm.  We’d love to have you come.

First County Agent in Piscataquis County…

Grangers will likely enjoy this article penned (keyboarded?) by Mary Annis–President of the Dover Foxcroft Historical Society and Secretary of Valley Grange #144 in Guilford, Maine. Set in the early 1900’s, Annis tells the story of how the “young whippersnapper” Henry Bodwell became the first county agent in Piscataquis County and met with a great deal of resistance from “UncleFrank” Merrill, the master of the South Dover Grange who was best described as “240 pounds of pure sarcasm.”

Over 300 farmers and their wives were in attendance to hear “Uncle Frank”, as the popular Grange Master was known throughout the county, expound on what he thought of the appointment [of Bodwell as County Agent]. From his remarks, nobody doubted that the going ahead would be anything but smooth for the young man that “Uncle Frank” had so sarcastically referred to as that little “whipper snapper.”

Well-researched, the article includes stories as told by Bodwell himself and will help readers understand the important role the Grange played in Agriculture and the community in general. The story of how the “young whippersnapper” wins over “Uncle Frank” and his fellow farmers is a timely lesson even though it happened 100 years ago. It takes some creativity on his part, but the young county agent wins an opportunity to explain to Grangers and farmers that his, “job as County Agent can be compared to just what is happening here on your farm today, namely neighbors cooperating with one another to aid in a common cause.”

View, print, and download the article.

Annis, Mary, “Joseph Henry Bodwell Becomes First County Agent in Piscataquis County” (2017). Cooperative Extension – Agriculture. 14.
https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/extension_ag/14

Blanketeers Help Kids Feel Safe

A diverse group of volunteers were at Valley Grange in Guilford Saturday to help make kids feel safe, according to this report by WABI – TV 5.

”Blanketeers” Make Homemade Blankets

National Grange Master to Visit!

Betsy Huber

National Master Betsy Huber

National Grange Master Betsy Huber will attend the Piscataquis Pomona Grange Meeting to be held at Valley Grange on April 6, 2017. We will share a “Chicken Pie Supper” prepared by Pomona Master and Chef Extraordinaire Bill Bemis starting at 6:00 pm. Our meeting and program will begin at 7:00 pm and include a “town hall style visit” with our National and State Master Rick Grotton. This is a great opportunity for Grangers from near and far to hear and be heard about Grange on a National scope.

Huber will be in Maine from April 5 until April 8. Details of her visit and planned events will be available on the Maine State Grange website.

While an RSVP is not required, it will help immensely if we have some idea of how many people are attending, particularly with planning the dinner. Please fill out the form below. Don’t forget to click the “submit” button at the bottom!

For additional information, please contact either Bill Bemis, Piscataquis Pomona Master (207 924-4123) or Walter Boomsma, Piscataquis Pomona Overseer (207 343-1842) and Publicity Director. (Media inquiries should be addressed to Walter.)

Directions and a map to the Valley Grange Hall can be found on this site. Our GPS address is 272 Guilford Center Road, Guilford ME 04443.

Carpools and a caravan are being arranged from Bangor Grange–contact Brenda Gammon or Rolf Staples.

Your RSVP…

Some Summer Affairs!

Saturday, July 30 Valley Grangers will be at River Festival with free balloons! Find them with Mr. Boomsma in the Abbot Village Press canopy… from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

Thursday, August 4 Piscataquis Pomona Meets at Garland Grange… potluck supper at 6:00 p.m. and meeting at 7:00 p.m. You can a Pomona Directory of Area Granges here .

Saturday, August 13, Valley Grange hosts Officer Installation for all area Granges! Paid chicken pie supper ($5) at 6:00 p.m. with Past State Master Vicki Huff and her team conduction installation at 7:00 p.m. The public is invited! Grange Masters, please let Piscataquis Pomona Master Bill Bemis or Overseer Walter Boomsma know how many from your Grange will be participating.

Wednesday, August 24 is set-up day at the Piscataquis Valley Fair with Grange Exhibits being open Thursday through Sunday. You can download judging information here. Granges currently committed to participating are Valley, Garland, and Piscataquis Pomona. If your Grange would like to join, please let us know ASAP.

3x5 ad 2016

 

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)