Dictionary Day 2021 Has Arrived!

A team of Valley Granger members led by Walter Boomsma is delivering over 200 dictionaries to local area schools during the next two weeks. “We have a lot to celebrate,” he noted, “in spite of COVID restrictions, third graders in the area will have a Dictionary Day that focuses on tools, words, and the importance of learning.”

The Grange began its “Words for Thirds” Program in 2004 by giving a dictionary to every third-grader at the then Guilford Primary School. Over the years, the program has expanded to include Piscataquis Community, SeDoMoCha, Brownville, Harmony, and Ridgeview Elementary Schools. Boomsma estimates the Grange has distributed nearly 3,000 dictionaries since. “But it’s really not about the numbers. One kid, one dictionary. The stories are many but each one is personal. A dictionary can make a big difference in a child’s life.”

Since in-person visits are not possible due to safety concerns, the Grange has produced a short video for teachers to use while passing out the dictionaries. In the past, some schools have made field trips to the Grange Hall and Grangers have visited schools to make the gift personal and emphasize the importance of people helping each other. Jim Annis, president of the local Grange, rarely misses a presentation. “I love how excited the kids get. These dictionaries are truly empowering and the program has become a rite of passage. It takes some creativity, but we’re glad we can continue the tradition.”

Boomsma noted that these sorts of links and cooperation within the community are exactly what the Grange hopes to facilitate.  “We’re all about Community Service,” he said. “We’re also looking for people who share that passion whether it’s working with the schools and children or seniors or other community organizations.” He cites the Grange’s Blistered Finger Knitters as an example. “As a result of their efforts, we’ll be distributing some knitted hats and mittens along with the dictionaries. These are usually given to the school nurse for kids who need a little help staying warm.”

Our goal as a Grange is to support building strong communities. We offer a number of opportunities for folks to join us. Financial support is always needed and welcomed. Contributions can be sent to Valley Grange Secretary and Community Service Director at 28 Orchard Road, Dover Foxcroft ME 04426. We also need hands! In addition to mittens and hats for kids, we support the CHCS Hospice Program for veterans by providing lap quilts and afghans. There are always little jobs to be done around the hall. We are updating our project and program list but can say with confidence, we have a way that you can help based on your interest and time.

Come to a meeting or contact a Granger! Share our American values and help feed our hometown roots!

More Honors at Valley Grange

During a very “non-traditional” Community Celebration, Valley Grange Secretary Mary Annis announced recent membership recognition awards. Referred as “Golden Sheaf Members,” William Baird, Sherry French, and Joan Wright were all recognized for fifty years of continuous membership. Carolyn Campbell, unfortunately recently passed away just short of her seventieth year of membership.

Somewhat at the opposite end of the membership spectrum, Program Director Walter Boomsma congratulated Kylie Warman “for being the first baby born to a Valley Grange Member in forty two years.” Kylie is the daughter of member Heather Burgess and Charlie Warman. The award was accepted by her great grandmother, Pat Engstrom.\

Exploring Traditions and Connections

Here you can watch and listen to the discussion between National Grange Communications Director Amanda Brozana Rio and author Walter Boomsma as they explore some of the topics from the book and what they mean to Grangers and Granges today–especially during the current pandemic.

Walter’s book is available from

Time and Date Change

Due to complications arising as a result of the recent storm , the time and date for “Exploring Connections” has changed. Tune in Friday!

Exploring Connections

Walter Boomsma, Valley Grange Program Director, to appear on National Program…

National Grange has started a series of Facebook Live Broadcasts during Grange Month to “cultivate connections in the time of COVID.” The daily broadcasts feature guests and a wide range of topics such as making balloon animals to exploring the future of the Grange as an organization.

On Tuesday, April 14, 2020, at 6:00 pm, Walter Boomsma, author, and Maine State Grange Communications Director, has been invited to appear and discuss “exploring connections,” based partly on his book, Exploring Traditions–Celebrating the Grange Way of Life.

Boomsma says he’s often a self-appointed cage rattler. “One of my goals in writing the book was to get people thinking about how the Grange–its rituals and traditions–connect to the world today. Too often we get stuck in a backward and inward perspective. We may need to turn our welcome mat around. Instead of thinking ‘Welcome to the Grange,’ we may need to focus on getting out into the world. The Grange way of life works best when we’re in the world, not when we’re in a Grange Hall. That’s as true today as it was 150 years ago.”


Tune in to this Facebook event to get your cage rattled and your mind engaged. If you’re not on Facebook, no problem! The broadcast will be recorded and uploaded to YouTube. We’ll share the link here after the broadcast.

Film at Eleven!

Valley Grange Dictionary Day with SedoMoCha Third Graders to be featured on WVII ABC 7-Fox 22 News   

Today was Dictionary Day for 75 third graders and their teachers who came to the Valley Grange Hall filled with anticipation. In addition to learning about the Grange, students talked with Captain Jack Battick about the Civil War and how the Grange helped reunite the country when it ended. Program Director Walter Boomsma explained what the Grange does, including what we can learn from the four staves. “When we look at the pruning hook, what are examples of things we might want to prune from our classrooms?” In the course of all this, students encountered some unfamiliar words which necessitated a dictionary. Valley Grange members and bookworms helped distribute dictionaries and the kids, as always, went a little wild with excitement. They not only looked up the unfamiliar words, many searched for their names and other information.

A reporter from WLVI–Fox 22 captured much of the excitement and will air a story about the program tonight on the Six and Eleven O’clock News. The story should also be available on their website tomorrow.

Here is the link to the Piscataquis Observer Story: Valley Grange continues to be the definition of generosity.

Captain Jack Battick talks about the Civil War and the Grange’s role in bringing the country together after it was over.



MPR to Explore the Role of the Grange

Valley Grange Program Director Walter Boomsma will be a featured guest

Maine Calling is a daily program airing on Maine Public Radio that “brings you interesting conversations with interesting people on just about any and all subjects.” Grangers will definitely be interested in the program scheduled to air on Friday, May 3, 2019, at 1 pm. Featuring Walter Boomsma, author of the book, Exploring Traditions–Celebrating the Grange Way of Life, and Vicki Huff, past master of the Maine State Grange, will be featured studio guests. Several representatives of successful Granges in Maine will also be calling in as will National Grange Communications Director Amanda Brozana Rio.

The program will be aired statewide. For a list of stations, visit the Maine Public Radio Website. The program will be recorded and offered as a podcast. To access the podcast after the program airs or for more information visit the Maine Calling Webpage.

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.

 

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.