The Grange isn’t just for farmers anymore

While doing a story about the Bainbridge Grange last week, I was surprised to learn that none of the members in the newly-revived fraternal organization were farmers.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised because a) there aren’t many farmers left on Bainbridge and b) gardeners and local food fans are increasingly the bulwark of the region’s most active Grange halls.

With no honest-to-goodness, full-time farmers on the Grange’s roster, just who is today’s “Granger”?

According to the Grange’s new secretary, John Steiner, the Bainbridge membership (which has doubled in the last three months, by the way) is made up, in part, by a cabinet maker, a real estate manager, a software designer, advertising professional, a restaurant owner, a community college professor and a few retirees. Most are united by a love for home-grown food, rural know-how and old-timey community events, like potlucks and square dances.

A wider array of members means the Grange is destined to offer a wider array of services and host a wider array of events.

What events? Well, that’s really up to the members, whomever they may be, Steiner said.

The Grange’s biggest event in several years was Sunday’s garden fair, which was headlined by gardening book author and columnist Ann Lovejoy.

“I don’t know that it could have gone better,” Steiner said on Monday. “We made a good chunk in donations, got $500 by auctioning off a raised (garden) bed, and signed up several new members.”

A couple local groups also inquired about renting out the hall for meetings, he said.

If you’d like to get involved with the Bainbridge Grange, call (206) 659-7197.

They have a website (www.bainbridgegrange.org), but it’s not quite up and running yet. The national Grange’s website is HERE.

And if you haven’t seen my story, head over HERE. There’s also a nice photo gallery by Larry Steagall.