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.

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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.

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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)

Fudgemakers Needed!

capital_building_symbol_400_clr_9447Wednesday, March 13th is the Maine State Grange’s annual Legislative Luncheon… a day when Grangers from around the state flock to Augusta to meet informally with legislators to discuss and promote agriculture and our rural communities. One highlight of the day is the “Fudge Fest” that Grangers provide–apparently our legislators can’t resist sweets! If you’d like to help “sweeten up” our legislators, make some fudge and contact Valley Grange members Jim and Mary Annis who will be representing us in Augusta that day. Give them a call at 564-0820 to arrange for them to get your fudge or for more information.

February Pomona Meeting

The February Pomona meeting is now scheduled for Saturday, February 16th at East Sangerville Grange. Members of East Sangerville are providing supper at 6 PM and the meeting to follow at 7 PM will feature Vicky Huff, Maine State Grange Overseer. All area Grange members are encouraged to attend… while supper reservations aren’t required, it will help to have some idea of how many are coming… please contact Bill at 924-3537 or send an email to grange@boomsmaonline.com and let us know! Our complete February schedule will be posted soon…

We’re A Resource!

video_cameraperson_400_clr_5858And we have resources! The sort that made it possible to provide WABI TV-5 with some connections on short notice that made the following story possible:

Local Grange Continues To Be A Resource!

Special thanks to Grangers Mary Annis and Harriet Mitchell for their quick response, appearances and comments… and to reporter Laura Roberts who has covered several Valley Grange events. Here’s a great line from the story:

“Many of them (Granges) have closed over the years, but Valley Grange in Guilford is still around and still doing good work.”

And if you think media coverage isn’t effective, a couple of kids caught me at school today to announce, “Hey, Mr. Boomsma! I saw Valley Grange on TV last night!”

Dover Foxcroft Granges To Be Honored

Valley Grange of Guilford is undertaking a project members hope will preserve an awareness of the historical role of Granges in the area. Funds are being raised to purchase commemorative bricks for the future Central Hall sidewalk. These bricks will honor Granges that used to operate in the Dover Foxcroft area.

Grange Secretary Mary Annis notes that many of Valley’s older members actually joined as a result of consolidation of local Granges as transportation improved and the need for neighborhood Granges diminished. “During the Grange’s expansive growth period, there were actually three Granges located in what is now Dover Foxcroft,” Annis reports. Central  Grange was organized in 1875 (the same year as Valley Grange started in a school-house near Lowe’s Bridge) in what was then Foxcroft. Additional Granges were formed in East Dover in 1879 and South Dover in 1883.

Central Hall actually played a role in the Grange’s development in Maine by hosting the organization’s state-wide conference in the mid-1880’s.

The members of Valley Grange voted to support the restoration of Central Hall from the beginning. Program Director Walter Boomsma expressed that support during early efforts by writing, “As an organization steeped in tradition, we certainly value the preservation of history and we believe tradition is necessary to maintain a strong community identity. Buildings such as Grange halls and community centers like Central Hall (as the very name implies) have served and can continue to serve as a beacon and rallying point.”

Fund-raising for Valley Grange’s project has already been boosted by several donations, including other community Granges in the area. While additional financial support would be welcome, Annis notes that another need is information. “We’d like to list the years each Grange operated,” Annis explained. “While getting the beginning dates has been relatively easy, discovering their entire history has been more of a challenge. We’re hoping anyone who may remember these important community organizations will contact us.” (Thanks to State Grange Historian Stan Howe for his help with this!)

On Friday, January 18th, Valley Grange will host a community potluck supper at 6 PM and meeting at 7 PM which will feature some historical information about local Granges past and present. The public is invited to come and share memories and learn more about the Grange’s role in today’s communities. The Valley Grange Hall is located at the corner of Guilford Center Road and Butter Streets in Guilford.

Those who wish to help with the project can contact Mary Annis at 564-0820. Donations should be sent to Valley Grange, 28 Orchard Road, Dover Foxcroft ME 04426.