Grange Notes: Jan. 25, 2012

January kicks off the new year at the Grange
New year = dues for Grange members
Progress on the floor-replacement: where we stand
Friends of the Capital City Grange Hall
Jan. 7th meeting program: VT FEED report
Hall Floor raffle concludes with drawing a winner!
Noted VT Grange member passes away
Warm winter opportunities at the Grange Hall
Feb. 4th meeting features speaker from Rural VT, and a potluck dinner

January kicks off the new year at the Grange: Our Grange meeting on Jan. 7th dealt with some good news—and some bad. We were sorry to hear that the company which plows our driveway and parking lot, DuBois Construction suffered a disastrous fire—just the night before our meeting. Their main building on 3 Mile Bridge Rd. in Montpelier went up in flames on Friday night—and was still smoldering as of Saturday afternoon. I also learned, after the meeting, about a farm building lost to fire: the Parmalee farm in Randolph Center had a barn burn down on New Year's Day, killing about 35 farm animals on a farm which raises and sells meat animals locally. At our next meeting, we will consider making a small donation to this hard-hit agricultural enterprise.
In other news, Marj Power offered a $250 gift certificate to Lenny's Shoe and Apparel as a raffle prize, which we voted to support, to benefit the VT Disaster Relief Fund. This fund, administered by United Way and also endorsed by the VT State Grange is designed to help with long-term recovery of the many VT farms, businesses and homeowners who have been affected by Tropical Storm Irene. You can learn more about their work at: http://vermont211.org/index.php/10-newsflashes/newsflash/654-disaster-au... and you can look forward to a chance to buy raffle tickets to benefit this fund.
Phyllis Skinner proposed that we post a plaque honoring Polly Howlett, particularly her work as “ramrod” of the planning and grant application which resulted in our ADA entrance and main-floor bathroom. Marj volunteered to make a certificate to frame for this purpose, and we all voted to support this remembrance.

New year = dues for Grange members: 2012 dues are now...due. Please support the Grange by renewing your membership! This year, our annual dues are $28.00. Checks can be sent to our Secretary:
Charles Martin
639 Minister Brook Rd.
Worcester, VT 05682

Progress on the floor-replacement: where we stand: since we voted to pay a deposit for production of the flooring, Gagnon Lumber has begun collecting the maple logs to be sawn. Ken Gagnon reported to me that the logs are coming from Mendon, Brandon and Pittsford VT to Gagnon's yard in Pittsford, expected to be complete by the 3rd week in January.
After that, the wood will be brought to Lathrop's Maple Supply in Bristol. There, the logs will be sawn into boards, dried and milled into our flooring. I found an interesting slideshow about Tommy Lathrop milling flooring for the Hinesburg Town Hall: http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/legacy/slideshows/040607forest/
Our flooring will be specially milled so that there is about 25% more wood above the tongue and groove joints that help align the boards—giving it a longer life before the next time our floor needs replacement.
Ken expects that our flooring will be ready by the end of May; we are not expecting to install it before fall of 2012. This will give us time to raise the money needed to get the flooring installed, sanded and finished with tung-oil. We also want to install the floor when moisture conditions are in the middle of their yearly cycle; this is regarded as the best way to control the natural shrinkage and expansion of wood.

Friends of the Capital City Grange Hall: a dedicated group has a good start on getting a non-profit, 501c3 corporation set up, which will be able to accept tax-deductible contributions to help the Grange do major projects like the floor-replacement. We've been meeting regularly, and expect to get the organization up and running soon. Grange members and friends are already making contributions for the floor project—we received over $420 in just the last month. Once we have the “Friends” organization set up, we can provide tax deductions in return for donations. Our core group (which includes Nancy Turner, Patty Giavara, Gail England, Marj Power, Merry Shernock and me) has been working on the vision, mission and structure of a strong “Friends” corporation which will be able to work with the Grange to finance renovations and improvements. We have some candidates for the Board of this organization, which legally must have a majority of non-Grange members, and will be meeting with them to finalize the bylaws which will guide the actions of the Board. Look for more news soon!

Jan. 7th meeting program: VT FEED: Alison Forrest led a participatory discussion of the work of this joint project of Shelburne Farm, VT Food Works at the Two Rivers Center, and the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT). FEED stands for Food Education Every Day, which sums up their mission, which is to connect the “3-Cs” of Cafeteria, Classroom and Community for schools in Vermont. Alison has been a leader in this movement since before VT FEED was started, and serves as a resource for other schools. She has been the director of the school lunch program in Huntington for 25 years, serving as everything from cook to bookkeeper to administrator while promoting efforts to bring healthier foods and healthier attitudes toward food into the school setting.
Allison told us Vermont as a state is a leader in making farm-to-school connections, and in the process getting kids to try more types of food, eating more local foods (and less of the long-stored USDA commodity foods which make up a large portion of many schools' food programs) and more fresh vegetables and fruits. She has seen many people work on making incremental improvements in the school food programs in her town and around the state, and was able to discuss the many ways interested parents and community members can make a difference. These include lobbying the food service manager, the principal and the school board—community pressure does make a difference. Having parents and community members who are farmers and will bring fresh foods to the school has helped in her school (she gets local, grass-fed beef delivered by a parent, for example). Getting appropriate equipment to process fresh vegetables in the school kitchen is another, sometimes overlooked way of making it easier to introduce local foods—and there are grants to help schools buy it. Putting on fresh-food tastings, and education about foods, and taking part in visits to farms (and visits by farmers to schools) all get kids more involved with local food, and understanding that their food doesn't just come out of a can or a freezer case in the store or school.
VT FEED is a coordinating organization that supports all the actions cited above. They sponsor the “Junior Iron Chef” competition for middle and high-school age cooks, giving awards for Best, Most Creative, and Most Use of Local Ingredients. They help get grants for school food programs, provide curriculum materials, make contacts between farmers and schools and are there to help out any one trying to rejuvenate the VT school food systems.
On a related note, Alison pointed out that schools provide a substantial part of the nutrition for students, in a time of economic uncertainty, according to the state-wide Hunger Free Vermont organization (formerly VT Campaign to End Childhood Hunger). Improvements in nutrition during the schoolday can have big impacts on improvements in learning and in healthy living.

Hall Floor raffle concludes with drawing a winner!: for a couple of months, the Contra Dance Umbrella committee has been helping to sell tickets to a raffle for a two-night stay at the Hilton Hotel in Saratoga Springs, NY, for the Dance Flurry festival. The room reservations were donated by generous Grange member and supporter Shelly Fracallossi, who also set up a Facebook page for the raffle, and has sold tickets at other dances. The proceeds—which added up to about $850 after the final “flurry” of sales at the CDU dance on Jan. 7th—have been sent to the Grange as a contribution to the Grange Floor Fund.
And the winner, drawn from a pot brought up from the Grange Hall Kitchen is....Dana Dwinell-Yardley. Dana was clearly excited—and feels that all the tickets she bought were a good investment!
For those that did not win: Phyllis Rubenstein is looking for a female to share the room she has reserved for the Flurry. You can contact her at: phyllisatphyllisrubensteinlaw [dot] comcastbiz [dot] net
The Grange especially thanks Shelly for coming up with the raffle idea, donating the reservation and promoting the sale of the tickets!

Noted VT Grange member passes away: Kermit Richardson, past Master of the VT State and also the National Grange passed away on Jan. 7th at the age of 82; his funeral was held on Jan. 12th. Mr. Richardson served as Chair of the VT State Grange Executive Committee until recently, and I remember him as part of the group which interviewed me about CCG's request for a loan to make our big renovation in 2008, when we added a handicap-accessible entrance and bathroom on the main floor of the Hall. He was one of those willing to take a chance on a group of (relatively) inexperienced Grangers like us—he told me “you should lend money not to a credit application, but to a person or a group that you trust”. I may not have the words quite right, but I respect the sentiment. The Grange will miss his experience and leadership.

Warm winter opportunities at the Grange Hall: As usual, there are many ways to warm up in our Hall during the winter. A variety of dance groups meet—see the Grange Calendar at www.capitalcitygrange.org/calendar for specifics. The next contra-ish event will be the Traditional New England dance to be called by Adina Gordon on Saturday, Jan. 28th, with instruction for newcomers at 7:30 and a variety of dances from 8:00 to 11:00. Dances will include contras, but likely also other dance forms, like “minor set of six” and quadrilles (also aka square dancing). If you want some more variety in your dance experience, this is your opportunity.

Feb. 4th meeting features speaker from Rural VT, and a potluck dinner: Starting at 4:30 pm as usual, we'll get reports on the activities of the Legislature, now in full swing, on the Farm Show (where VT FEED will have put on Farm-to-school Awareness Day on Jan. 25th), and progress on the floor project and FCCGH. Our program at 5:30 pm will be presented by Rob Kidd of Rural VT, who will tell us about their work on behalf of “Food Sovereignty”--helping VT communities to be more self-sufficient by increasing connections between farmers and community members/consumers. This includes removing restrictions on direct sales from farms—for example, dairy farms' ability to sell raw milk, or helping to establish a local animal slaughtering facility, as well as supporting farmers' markets, and farm-to-school programs like the ones we learned about at our last meeting (notice a theme?). Check out Rural VT's website at: www.ruralvermont.orgissues-main/food-sovereignty/ , come to hear what Robb has to say, and join in the discussion.
Of course, we'll have a tasty potluck dinner at about 6:30, hope we will see you there! All are welcome at all of these Grange events, free and open to the public.

Tim Swartz, Master (with everyone's help)
Capital City Grange #469
802-225-8921

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