As we know, the “Patrons of Husbandry,” was formed as a direct outcome of the Western populist movement that sprang up during and after reconstruction following the Civil War. The changing aspects of transportation and communication facilitated the rapid movement of ideas and concepts, and consequently, the growth of organizations like our own.
The “Granger Movement” among other things, started out as direct action against the corporate railroad and crop storage systems then in place. The railroads in collusion with one another controlled the prices that were charged to farmers for transport and storage of their commodities. When the farmers banded together in a manner analogous to the urban labor movement, they were able to form cooperatives to leverage their prices better, there by decreasing the influence of corporate monopolies and increasing their own influence.
Over the years, the Grange, like many organizations have shrunk in membership and influence. While still active at the national and state levels, most work has been accomplished at the local or “subordinate” Grange level, (from my observation).
With that view, as well as an examination of the history of the Grange, many of us were encouraged to reconnected with the Grange, or to become involved for the first time. The key challenges we see in the coming years can be addressed in part by an increased emphasis on “re-localization.” Not just in food production, but in other services as well. This boils down to a single word: Community.
We recognize that as tough as it will get, it will be much tougher without community. This process has been happening more and more as folks want to learn how to reconnect with their communities, neighbors and food!
However, it seems as though some of our Order seem to see us as some kind of threat to the “established order,” however that is defined. “The Green Grangers are trying to take over and hijack the Grange organization, and turn it into something else.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that the Grange organization needs to grow, and here is a way to do it.
Fuel prices will continue to rise, as will the number of mouths to feed. Many of us in the Grange see a great opportunity by us to help make a difference. With our 50 Mile Meals, Community Gardens and other activities.
And through these highly visible projects and activities, we increase our local community’s awareness about the Grange. Often comments start out as; “Is there still a Grange?” But often end up with; “I’d like to join and help!” Our experience has been that membership has increased along with our expanding range of events, projects and activities.
In short, our society is going through a transition. From a society predicated on continued, unsustainable growth to one that is based once again on sustainable relocalization. This can be greatly facilitated by making use of our 21st century communications tools coupled with 19th century Granger ideals. In short, the Granges of the Patrons of Husbandry are poised to be leaders in their communities.
Grange members all have a vested interest in our local and regional communities. We’re here for the long haul, and we want to keep our communities vibrant, vital and healthy, as it has been for over 140 years! That great American philosopher Mark Twain once remarked: “It doesn’t matter if you are on the right track, if you ain’t moving.” We Grangers are moving forward. And we invite others to join us.
“The ultimate object of this organization is for mutual instruction and protection, to lighten labor by diffusing a knowledge of its aims and purposes, to expand the mind by tracing the beautiful laws the Great Creator has established in the Universe, and to enlarge our views of creative wisdom and power.”
From the Declaration of Purpose of the National Grange, February 11, 1874
Silverton, Oregon Grange No.748