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.

Thank you, Veterans

I can no other answer make, but, thanks, and thanks.

~William Shakespeare


Thanks, Deer Isle Grange!

Thanks to the magic of the Internet… a “sister” grange learned about our linen project and shipped a generous donation to include with what we collected. Deer Isle Grange is located in Hancock County… and we appreciate their support!

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Thank you so much for joining Valley Grange’s effort to “support our troops” with donations of linens for the last troop to leave Iraq, now enroute to Germany by way of Afghanistan. We are pleased and excited that you learned about the project through our website… and want you to know that your generous donations were received and are now being repackaged with the items we collected at our last meeting. We’ll be shipping everything to Germany early next week.

For your support and this wonderful example of Grange Spirit, thank you.

Mary Annis, Secretary and Community Service Chair

January Activities Abound!

No More Naked Sheep!

We’ve got a great meeting planned for this month… and an important one to boot! Expect a great potluck supper… and we’re inviting our knitters to come and pick up yarn. We now have three collection points, including Piscataquis Community Elementary School—their box was half full last time I checked, Penquis, and the County Extension Office in Dover. Janice and I spent several evenings de-tangling and making yarn balls… we have another box ready to go! If you’ve got some extra yarn hanging around, bring it to the meeting! We’ve also had a request for afghan patterns that you might no longer need. If you have a large quantity of this stuff, I might even arrange for it to be picked up!

Domestics, you have a call…!

At least one other grange and several other organizations around the state have joined our efforts to supply linens to our last troops to leave Iran, soon returning to Manneheim Germany. We’re looking for single bed sheets and pillow cases, towels and wash clothes. Contact Mary Annis (564-0820) for more information or bring them to the meeting.

Fast Facts regarding this month’s meeting…

The date is January 20th. We start with potluck supper at 6 PM… and good grange food on a cold winter’s night is just the right thing! You can check out the recently assembled book of thank you notes for dictionaries, too. We’ll have it toasty warm… and our meeting will begin at 7 PM. The “lecturer’s program” this month features Denise Trafton from Journey House. You are definitely going to want to hear about this—it’s a program that works!  

GrowME is growing!

We now have 27 classes signed up in Greenville, Guilford, and Dover Foxcroft! Bookworms and Valley Grangers are going to want to “reserve” their spot early! The classroom activities will all need to be scheduled during Agriculture Week (March 12-16).

Newspapers in Education

Believe it or not, Newspapers in Education starts again soon Ads must be completed and turned in by March 5th, so we’re already putting together the plan…  This is huge fun and a great opportunity to teach third and fourth graders what the grange is about.

 You Can!

FYI… there are some great “traditional skills” courses coming up starting early in February with “Slice it, Salt it, Stomp it!—how to preserve your garden crop without canning or freezing. There are other courses ranging from backyard maple syrup to starting plants to backyard poultry. Check ‘em out online at www.pvaec.org! They’re all about independence and self-sufficiency during these tough economic times—and the most expensive class is $15—most are only $5-$10! (You Can is a collaboration between UMaine Piscataquis County Extension and Piscataquis Valley Adult Education Cooperative.)

Support Our Troops-Linens Needed

Valley Grange Members Jim and Mary Annis have a grandson currently serving his fourth tour in Iraq. His unit, the 51st Trans Company is finishing up their tour and was the unit to “close the gate” as they left Iraq and entered Kuwait. In about 6 weeks they will be returning “home” to Mannheim, Germany. For married soldiers everything is already set for their arrival as their spouses will see to their needs. However, 109 single soldiers will be arriving to live in the barracks. Usually a FRG (Family Readiness Group), an organization made up of family members and volunteers, provides basic linens for these returning soldiers, however, this group located in Mannheim does not have enough funds to provide these linens. They are hoping to collect twin sheets, pillow cases, pillows, towels and washcloths for each of the single soldiers.

The army does provide brown towels, wash clothes and sleeping bags when a soldier enlists. The reason the barracks rooms are set up before their arrival is because when they deploy they pack up their rooms and everything gets put into storage. Sometimes they arrive in the middle of the night and go straight to bed. The soldiers do not have access to the stored items for several weeks.

This call for help is going out to several organizations in several states. Any extra items collected will be donated to an orphanage in Germany.

If you’d like to help in some way just bring your donations to the next Grange meeting on the 20th or contact Jim or Mary who have said they’ll take care of shipping the items to the proper location.

Membership Meeting October 15, 2010

Put some color in your Grange!

What Color Are You and Your Grange?

is a question you’ll answer during this fun-packed presentation by Rick Grotton, Membership Director of the Maine State Grange. All area Granges are invited to join us for an evening of self-discovery and growth! Lots of good things are happening around here… Valley Grange has taken in three new members in the past several months… Parkman Grange is in the midst of an exciting program of revitalization… Garland Grange recently had a record public supper… We’re putting color in our Granges!

This meeting will start with a potluck supper at 6 PM–bring a dish to share and visit with Grange members from all over! You can also help us label all the dictionaries we’ll be presenting this year. “This book and all the words in it belong to…” If you’d like to help us with the “Adopt a Platoon” project, take a look at the information posted and bring an item or two to donate!

The meeting begins at 7 PM… this is one you won’t want to miss!

Grange Adopts Platoon

The Youth and Junior Departments of the Maine State Grange have adopted a platoon of approximately thirty soldiers stationed overseas… the responsibilities with this include writing each soldier letters and sending care packages once per month. They are asking for help from the Grange Family (or anyone!) with this and Valley Grange is participating. So members, man your pencils!

Specific information including a list of items needed is available for download by clicking the link in the right-hand column. Our community service chairperson Mary Annis will be handling things locally or you can address specific questions to Sue Hacket (State Youth/Junior Director) at 666-8849 or by email to jennsue@suscom-maine.net. What a great opportunity!

Ready… Aim…

There are several important rituals I have every year at this time… one is finding a veteran and buying a poppy. I’m happy to report I accomplished that yesterday in Dexter. Another is hanging out the flag at the end of the driveway. I have in the past been teased a bit about that… after all, I live on a dead-end road with only six or so houses past mine… so not many people see my flag. But I know it’s there and that’s important to me.

Unfortunately, I don’t get to watch parades anymore because I’m often in one. I catch glimpses of units going by as we line up and of course I see who’s in front of me and who’s in back of me. But getting ready for it brings back a flood of memories from childhood.

My Dad was a WW II veteran and those childhood Memorial Days were second only to Christmas in importance as family events. I’m not sure how much help I actually was, but he and I had lots of projects to complete before the big day—projects that included working at the cemetery and rehearsals for the honor guard. Folks in town used to say they could tell when my Dad had charge of the honor guard because of the precision. Everything was synchronized. When those guys fired the rifles you only heard one shot. (After it was over and we’d put the rifles away the guys would discuss who’s rifle jammed or misfired during a volley. I felt like I was an insider to a secret that no one else knew.)

I confess that to this day it’s hard for me to watch a ceremony without being a little critical. When we stop for it during the parade I can’t see them but I want to hear one shot.

There are times when it’s important we do that—when we come together and work together and the result is that many shots sound as one. I wish Memorial Day was one of those times—a time when we could put aside politics and political differences, pause in our busy lives, and “fire” one shot:

Thank you!

Editor’s Note: For some fascinating facts about gun salutes and rifle volleys check out this About.com site. Do you know how many volleys are typically fired and why?

Thoughts of Thanks…

If you could use a little inspiration this Thanksgiving, try visiting this site. Turn your sound on and pay attention. I believe the site is sponsored by a Military Support Group, but it’s not just about the military.  Thanksgiving is, it seems to me, a particularly appropriate holiday for Grange folks to feel some kinship with… it’s about the harvest, certainly, and we might do well to note that the bounty of the harvest is always somewhat relative.

History tells us that nearly half of those early pilgrims perished during their first year here. And yet they found cause to celebrate and recognized there is always much to be thankful for even when things seem bleak by most standards. No, we can’t necessarily make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. But we can find value and beauty in almost everything around us. Often times the greatest beauty and the highest value is found in the simplest.

We can be thankful for what we have–that’s somewhat the point of the Thanksgiving Meal. But let’s not forget to be thankful for what others do and perhaps, even, for who others are.  And while we’re being thankful, why not be thankful for what we do and who we are?

When asked about angels, nine year old Ashley said, “My angel is my grandma who died last year. She got 
a big head start on helping me while she was still down here on earth.”

Who are our angels… and who’s angels are we? That’s a worthy Thanksgiving Thought!

Holiday Mail For Heroes

With Veterans’ Day Just around the corner, it seems appropriate to clarify a persistent urban myth and provide folks with an opportunity to show support of our troops. For a number of years, there has been an email forwarded around encouraging folks to send Christmas cards to recovering soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital. Do not do this; these cards will not be delivered.

There is, however, an alternative. The American Red Cross conducts a “Holiday Mail for Heroes Program” that is already underway.  Please note there are some very important guidelines that must be followed… and your cards must arrive at the distribution location by December 7th. (I wonder if anyone saw the irony in that particular day as a deadline!?) One reason this program does work is that all cards are screened. Following the guidelines and mailing before the deadline makes that possible!