By Genie Harden, Spencer Creek Grange
I’m so sorry about how long it’s taken for me to write to you. I still haven’t given thanks to all the people that made Oregon’s 3rd Green Granger Summit (March 20-24, 2013) as rich and inspiring as it was. It has been too long a wait. I’m sending the report attached (see below). It’s long, maybe too long, and probably incomplete, so I’ll just say that the event was attended by a few wonderful, hardworking people, that the outcome included one completed resolution regarding the farm bill that is attached for your use, and some unfinished resolutions regarding the protocol of consolidation of granges, ensuring that the order remains perpetual (in the report.) The speeches by Kari Hamerschlag, Bob McFarland, and Zach Baker are going up on youtube for your enjoyment. Click Here for Zach Baker’s video.
It was also decided at the Green Granger Summit that if we changed our name again, now to “Green Grangers Interest Group” that we wouldn’t sound quite so threatening.
The Resolution entitled Supporting the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act of the 2012 Farm Bill was drafted chiefly by myself, Kari Hamerschlag, Jessica Denning, and Jay Sexton, Jeanne Trudeau. I worked further on it at home, and I felt pretty good about it. The time frame is critical if we want to put our weight behind it. Right now the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act is in committee and needs support. We can do this individually, but it would be great to have granges support it. I do hope to have it at Oregon State Session, and I hope that California State Grange does the same. I would appreciate everyone taking the resolution, tweaking it where ever they thought it could be improved for their particular grange, and trying to pass it. I did try to pass it at my grange, and although it’s very late, I’m going to try again to pass it next month (Malcolm said if it passed he would personally carry it to the State Grange Convention.) Despite the ignorance of a couple vociferous and domineering members of my grange, I think I can get it passed next month, just in time. I’m just sorry I couldn’t bring it to the Pomona mtg this Saturday.
Supporting the (Federal) Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act of the 2012 Farm Bill (to be voted on at the end of September, 2013)
Whereas, demand for access to locally produced foods has grown at least 40 percent between 2008 and 2012, according to US Department of Agriculture (USDA); and
Whereas, the Oregon Department of Agriculture 2013 State of the Agriculture Industry Report cites “Flourishing food processing and distribution facilities mean more outlets for Oregon’s producers, more jobs in Oregon, and more dollars in our economy;” and
Whereas, the Agricultural Reclamation Act (by Oregon farm advocacy organization Friends of Family Farmers) cites the need for public investment, grants or incentives in order to strengthen the economic viability of Oregon farmers and ranchers, enhance local employment opportunities and increase local food security; and
Whereas, the University of Oregon’s 2010 Lane County Food Market Analysis identifies significant gaps in local food storage, processing, and distribution infrastructure which, when remedied, will help local markets capture more of the county’s total $1.1 billion in annual food purchases; and
Whereas, the federal Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act is a comprehensive package of reforms that would expand opportunities for local and regional farmers, rebuild the farm infrastructure in rural communities and help farmers break down barriers to new markets.therefore be it
Resolved, Oregon State Grange lobbies Oregon’s federal legislators to co-sponsor the federal Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act and to support its provisions in the federal farm bill; and be it further
Resolved, that the National Grange lobbies congressional representatives to co-sponsor the federal Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act and to include its provisions in the federal farm bill.
The report of the entire summit:
Oregon’s 3rd Green Granger Summit met on the weekend of March 22-24, 2013 at Spencer Creek Grange, Eugene, OR, and the attendees brought ample background knowledge, grange experience and vision to more than make up for their small number.
- Peggy Jillson (Irving Grange, OR)
- Linda Short (Rockford Grange, OR)
- Mark England (Rockford Grange, OR),
- Jay Sexton, (Mary’s River Grange, OR)
- Genie Harden (Spencer Creek Grange, OR, lecturer)
- Glenn Harden (Spencer Creek Grange, OR, gate keeper)
- Cookie Trupp (Spencer Creek Grange, OR, lady assistant steward)
- Malcolm Trupp (Spencer Creek Grange, OR, grange master)
- Karen Harding (Rockford Grange, OR)
- Keith Harding (Rockford Grange, OR)
- Jeanne Trudeau (present for Saturday morning work session only)
- Bob McFarland (President of California State Grange)
- Jessica Denning, (Sacramento Community Grange, CA),
- Takashi Yogi (Marshall Grange CA)
- Jan Saxton, (Aromas Community Grange, CA)
Friday evening the summit opened up with a locally grown vegetarian supper, all from scratch, naturally! Thanks to the following farms: Let it Grow (winter squash, kale), Laughing Salad (mixed salad greens), New World Farmstead (cheese, eggs, berries), Alan Dong (black beans), Hunton’s Farm (whole wheat flour) Laughing Stock (potatoes), Stillpoint Farm (mixed salad greens).
Our first keynote speaker was Kari Hamerschlag, the senior agriculture analyst from the Environmental Working Group, a California based 501 C-3 with a huge data-base indexing everything under the sun from chemicals in your toothpaste to grants available to sheep farmers. Kari gave us an overview of the 2012 farm bill, which has been extended until September, allowing us time to get a closer look at how the U.S. will spend about $500 billion on food policy in the next 5 years. 80% goes to food stamps, but that amount doesn’t stop with low-income families, it is then funneled back into our food industry, so it isn’t exactly money given away never to be seen again. With regards to the rest, most goes to commodity crop insurance, meaning it is funneled out of food production, to private insurers, to ensure that the largest growers of corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, most of which is not grown for human consumption, never vary in their income. Kari brought to our attention a portion of the farm bill called the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act, which will steer $——- into the effort to relocalize the economy through agricultural projects. (Think farmers markets, mills, roasteries, canneries, storage facilities, and tanning.)
Then, California State Grange President Bob McFarland recounted the huge membership revitalization CSG has experienced because of its support of the upswell of consumers and small-scale farmers interested in providing healthy produce for their communities. McFarland, twice elected California State Grange Master, represents a promising vision for a 21st Century Grange revival, based on renewing its traditional roots in the soil. With his first landslide election in 2009, his outreach to dozens of communities successfully developed local leadership that reopened, revitalized, and started 36 Granges and drew 1,500 new members to the California Grange, while balancing the budget! Today, thousands of young people are going back to the land in California, and the California State Grange welcomes them home. Their commitment to small-scale farming is inspiring farmers markets and fresh, healthy local food in grocery stores and restaurants. The so-called “Renaissance” granges that invite them in are also drawing community leaders, teachers, health professionals, creative craftspeople, and many others of all ages. They’re enthusiastically restoring Grange halls and holding community breakfasts and picnics, dances, regional talent shows, musical and theater events, and more. They have started gardening, cooking and dance classes, food banks, bartering, and seed swaps. Community elders teach re-skilling classes in weaving, home repair, canning, and pottery. The growing Granges in California and other states have stories to be shared from coast to coast.
Saturday Morning, 9a.m. – 1 p.m.:
After a farm breakfast of frittata made from neighborhood eggs, chevre, and caramalized onions, homemade bread, and locally prepared jams, the 15 of us, plus Jeanne Trudeau, got down to work. We divided into 2 groups, one discussing grange organizational issues, and one hammering out a resolution supporting the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act, one of many bills which constitutes the 2012 Farm Bill (extended to September 30, 2013.) It is our hope to share this resolution with as many granges as possible so that anyone can piggyback and add their voice. Huge thanks to Jeanne Trudeau for her expertise in resolution writing and Kari Hamerschlag for her in-depth understanding of the Farm Bill issues.
Those of us on the south side of the room during the resolution-writing workshop started talking about what happens when a Grange hall is sold as part of a consolidation of two subordinate Granges. The goal of the resolution was to make sure that the influx of cash to the surviving Grange was used at least partly to develop membership rather than just to improve a building. The process of refining the resolution was actually quite fascinating. You need teeth to enforce the policy you’re advocating, but first it has to be voted on. That means it has to be easily explained and defended from a subordinate Grange meeting sometimes all the way to National Grange. We discussed some percentages (10 percent forfeiture after 3 years if membership does not increase 10 percent. Maximum 75 percent of proceeds from sale used for hall improvement) but realized we might lose on the details. Each Grange consolidation is unique. Thus we came to this much of our resolution, with the italicized portion still under construction:
Be it resolved that use of proceeds from sale of real property when a subordinate Grange consolidates with another subordinate Grange be subject to an action plan approved by the State Grange executive committee and designed to increase membership numbers in the consolidated Grange.
After all the great discussion and focused work, Peggy, Jan, Takashi, Karen, Keith, Kari and Jessica enjoyed a local lunch at the Holy Cow, on Willamette Street. Then Peggy showed the Californians around Eugene, to the top of Skinner Butte for a view of the town, and through the Whiteaker neighborhood where so many interesting little start-up businesses are evident. Everyone came back satisfied from the good food and sightseeing.
Saturday 3:15 p.m.
Open Discussion – who we are and what we’re doing.
Present: Jan, Jay, Glenn, Takashi, Cookie, Malcolm, Linda, Mark, Karen, Keith, Peggy (Genie took Kari to the airport at this time and Bob was coming down with a cold and was back at his motel room.)
On Saturday afternoon, after a wonderful lunch in town and a great resolution-writing workshop in the morning, we gathered in a circle to address some issues that had come up during the planning and outreach for the Third Annual Green Granger Summit. The Master of the Spencer Creek Grange and his wife joined the rest of the attendees and had the opportunity to bring up some questions about the use of the Grange name for this particular event and also the nature of the gathering.
There was a certain amount of wrestling with the word “green” and all of its connotations, and a desire to find a way to identify the purpose of the Summit to all who heard the name without making it sound like it was something separate from the whole of the Oregon Grange or violating the “Grange” name trademark. It was suggested that adding “Interest Group” to “Green Grangers” would make it more clear that the “Green Grangers” were a group of members within the Oregon Grange who were interested in incorporating ideas and practices from the “Green” movement, like recycling and waste reduction and serving organic and locally produced foods, into their Grange activities.
In further discussion it became clear that all in attendance at the Summit were Grange members in good standing, who had come together to discuss the challenges they faced in their home Granges and share strategies for overcoming them. The loss of Grange Halls to consolidation, the difficulties in finding enough members to support multiple Granges in small communities, the costs of Hall maintenance and repair, the occasional friction that can arise when new members join a Grange, and the importance of finding ways to incorporate and welcome those new members were all discussed in a spirit of sharing and mutual support. Strategies for success included ideas for Grange events, fundraisers, grant applications and other resources for supporting and maintaining their aging Grange Halls and ways to connect long-time Grangers with new members that made both feel appreciated and included. We found that we all shared the same concerns, challenges and hopes for the future of our organization faced by Grange members everywhere.
5 p.m. (Open to the Public)
Zachariah Baker, a member of the Benton County Community Rights Coalition, related his group’s story of the community rights based ordinance they wrote with the help of an organization called Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). Chiefly consisting of farmers, Benton County Community Rights Coalition created an ordinance prohibiting GMO’s from Benton County.
6:30 p.m. (Open to the Public)
Supper consisted of baked chicken (Eggcentric Farm), beef (Homestead), winter squash, mashed potatoes, salad, homemade bread and baked apples with whipped cream (Lochmead Farm) for dessert. Everything was grown within a 20 mile radius with the exception of the salad dressing, and a few spices. My, Oregon produces excellent food!
8 p.m. – 10 (Open to the Public)
Band: Conjugal Visitors
Saturday had been so busy that the only Summit registrants present at the dance were Genie, Takashi, Jessica, Linda and Mark (who were joined by their daughter and grand daughter). The band, however, played exceptionally well. Instrumentation included guitar, banjo, fiddle, upright bass, saxophone, and washboard/percussion. Each musician gave generously their very best, creating a celebratory mood of Americana, jug-band, and swing.
Sunday 9 a.m.
Breakfast – Pancakes, berry sauce with whipped cream.
Gus Frederick (Silverton Grange) showed his slide show of Grange History, which was recently updated. Many of us had seen it before, and we agreed that we got more out of it from repeated viewing. As we were all feeling relaxed, there was more commentary from the audience, and so the program became quite interactive. More new material had been made available via the National Grange website as some primary grange sources had become available for the first time on Kindle. If you ever get a chance to see Gus’s presentation, I highly recommend it!
In a circle, we recapitulated the high points of the weekend, and Gus promised to update his website with respect to the conversation on what we were to be called. I think we finally got talked out!