As a farmer, a gardener, a homesteader, one who teaches the nearly lost arts and skills of food preservation, seed saving, sewing and so much more….belonging to the The Grange is a part of my life I love. Being surrounded by those who wish to preserve the old ways. I grew up visiting Grange Halls quite often, living in rural areas much of my childhood. Those halls were the cornerstone of the areas then. It is when I think of how life was as a child, that I realize I am older than I feel. But there are many left who still value what Granges can offer to a community.
You might be asking however….”What is a Grange??”
“The Grange, officially named The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, is a social organization in the United States that encourages families to band together to promote the economic and political well-being of the community and agriculture. The Grange, founded after the Civil War in 1867, is the oldest American agricultural advocacy group with a national scope. The Grange actively lobbied state legislatures and Congress for political goals, such as the Granger Laws to lower rates charged by railroads, and rural free mail delivery by the Post Office.” That last one I had no idea about until recently. But you think about it….even in 1980 as a young child we still had party lines for our telephones in rural Washington State. My Mom often drove up into a valley in the foothills to visit a friend, who still lived off grid. The power company didn’t come out there until the early 1990’s, only when the US government required it. Free mail delivery might seem weird, but it was a huge jump for those who grew the United States food!
Our local Grange’s objectives are threefold:
- Provide for family activity and fun through Grange events and fellowship.
- Participate in the community and serve community needs by supporting youth, providing education, and providing a premium place for community activities.
- Promote grass-roots, non-partisan legislative needs of the membership by authoring resolutions for action at the annual Washington State Grange Convention.
As a member of Deer Lagoon Grange #846 I was part of a group of volunteers who discussed what we should do as our big fundraiser this spring for the Grange’s funds. We spent much of last year doing volunteer restoration work on the Hall, built in the early 1900’s (it was originally a Lutheran Church, and sold to the Deer Lagoon Grange in 1935, the Grange was founded in 1927). But there is still so much to do for this building. For example, it’s not sexy but the fundraiser is aimed at getting a new septic field for the hall. It desperately needs it. Every dollar that is donated is used carefully in the continuing restoration. Much of the work is done by volunteers, pitching in their weekends to help.
(Last summer at the Whidbey Island Fair in Langley, Wa the Deer Lagoon Grange took home the top ribbon for this agricultural display that was simply over the top! A number of my canned goods were used in the display.)
This year alone the Grange has held 3 wildly popular Sourdough Bread classes, forums on homeschooling, a class on water bath canning I personally held and just the other month we held a seed swap – after watching none be held since 2019 on Whidbey Island, I made sure we had one – and it was well attended! The Grange is used for so many community needs, even yoga classes in the past.
But I digress, we all came to the agreement a lovely fancy tea party was a way to celebrate spring – a Spring Fling if you will! Within a couple weeks, a core group of volunteers came together and we got the ideas flowing. The tables were each sponsored by a Grange member (with the help of a couple non members who really wanted in on it!). Fingers crossed we posted the event. We hoped others would be as excited as we were.
And we sold out. Fully. With a waiting list. We had locals and those as far as the north end of the island show up. My table held a family who had recently moved here from Texas.
We worked thru last week, tables put together, food prepped, ceiling decor hung. A photo booth to take memories in. And when the tea attendees came in….you could see so many shocked faces. They could see how this hall is so important to the community. How it will hold weddings, receptions, important events, celebrations of lives. It felt like a gift we were giving to the community. For people to come out and enjoy a few hours away from the madness of the world. To sip tea and lemonade, and nosh on fancy sandwiches and scones. We need this in our busy lives. To simply pause.
I made lemon curd for every table. I will be posting the recipe later – it was the best I have made. It apparently made many people quite happy. I’d like to think it’s my hens’ eggs that truly make the difference.
I pulled together items from our farm for the silent auction:
And eggs, of course:
I was happy to help with the Grange fund! and so many others were as well. From the many items brought, and many items bought.
Each table was unique.
My table was simple. White, blue and forest, with pops of green and brown wood.
The tables went from bright and intense to very girly.
And the best part was the desert dash, which brought in a lovely chunk of fundraising money. The cakes and desserts were all donated and many were from companies and well known bakers on the island.
The Grange Motto:
In essentials, unity
In non-essentials, liberty
In all things, charity