the irresistible fleet of bicycles

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before bernie sanders: a 19th century populist’s run for the presidency


We are nearing a serious crisis. If the present strained relations between wealth owners and wealth producers continue much longer they will ripen into frightful disaster. This universal discontent must be quickly interpreted and its causes removed. It is the country’s imperative Call to Action, and cannot be longer disregarded with impunity.


So begins the preface to A Call to Action—the 1892 political manifesto by James Baird Weaver, the People’s Party’s candidate for president that same year.

The “crisis” Weaver was referring to got its start 19 years earlier, when post-war inflation and wild financial speculation (particularly on the part of those trying to cash in on the seemingly ceiling-less railroad industry) resulted in the Panic of 1873, which triggered industrial capitalism’s first global depression. Employment and wages plummeted as American companies defaulted on $1 billion of debt. The collapse, which would be felt for decades, left many, including Weaver, vehemently opposed to monopolies and critical of banking industry policies.

To read more, click HERE!

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state of the maine grange


by Mary Pols
Originally Posted on the Portland Press Herlad

This week, the Maine State Grange holds its annual conference in Skowhegan.

What, you didn’t know?

Once upon a time, you absolutely would have known, because Grange was an integral part of Maine rural life, a gathering place for farmers and community members to share news, information and concerns. If you worried about being able to afford insurance or being ripped off by the railroad monopolies taking your agricultural products out of Maine, or just wanted to slough off your cares by going to a dance, you turned to the Grange. It did cooperative buys on insurance and seeds, lobbied Washington on your behalf and could always be relied on to feature a big empty room with a fine dance floor.

The ritual heavy, Christian-oriented and unusually progressive Grange (female members got the vote long before the rest of American women did) was the original Facetime for farmers. Or rather, “Grange.” Like Farm Bureau, Grange hardly needed an article. But consider this: The 2015 Maine State Grange conference is not being held at Skowhegan Grange, because declining membership caused that to close several years ago, although the building was saved and is being rehabbed.

There are two trends in Maine Granges. One is positive: Young or younger farmers are taking an interest in revitalizing the institution, fixing up old buildings; adding bathrooms where there were none; hosting farmers markets and contra dances; sharing Grange space with entertainment, as at the Wayside Grange and Theatre in Dexter; and returning to the cooperative model for better buying power for local farmers, hobby or hard-core, as at the Halcyon Grange in North Blue Hill.

But the second trend, the negative one, are Granges shutting for lack of membership, and that decline still outweighs the positive.

Read the whole article at the Portland Press Herald!

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maine grange halls


Photographer, Rose Marasco, has developed a large collection of photographs of the aging Grange halls of Maine. The halls in her photographs are at once regal relics of the past and a little spooky, leaving us both nostalgic and slightly unsettled by their slight disrepair. See a sampling of the collection on her website.

A limited number of signed exhibition catalogues are available and includes essays by Frank Gohlke, photographer and Elspeth Brown, historian. To purchase a copy for $20. + $5. shipping. Please contact Rosa at if you would like one.

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the grange hall in ojai has great upcoming events

The Grange Hall in Ojai has got it going on!

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Beginning this weekend (sign up quick!) the Ojai Grange is hosting a series of summer classes on a variety of different homesteading/self-sufficiency topics.Check out for more information and to sign up!

Below is the flyer for a homesteading Farm Camp for girls age 8-14 at local organic Poco Farm, July 20-24.
Support your local community and home economy by signing up soon!
Thank you!
Grace Malloy
Secretary, Ojai Valley Grange #659

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history of the grange wars


West Coast Grange Wars:
A Reborn Farmers’ Movement Takes on Corporate Agriculture
By John Collins, Rural America In These Times

As more and more grocery shoppers refuse to write-off the origins of their food as some unsolvable whodunit, a network of sustainability minded, locally oriented farmers are working to connect those people to calories from known sources.  For such farmers, and those in the communities that support them, the local Grange is a well-established ally.

Jay Sexton is Master at Mary’s River Grange #685 in Philomath, Oregon. A member of that Grange for six years, he is also the current director of the Oregon State Grange Agriculture Committee, working to advance Grange policies and promote agriculture awareness. Reminding the general public that we all depend on agriculture for the food we eat has been no small part of the organization’s mission for the last 148 years.

“The Grange has an interesting history,” says Sexton, “not just with the ups and downs of membership, but with how closely it’s been tied to big agriculture.”

In recent years, a rift has emerged between some state and local Granges and the national organization. New farmers with progressive ideas regarding the future of agriculture—organic farming practices, an end to the use of GMOs, environmentally beneficial land use—are clashing with the National Grange over its support of industrial agribusiness.

Like many advocacy organizations headquartered in Washington D.C., the National Grange is politically cautious. In the Beltway, severing ties with large, technology-driven farming operations—biting the hand that feeds—is a tough sell.

“Grange policy is very clear in that we support all of agriculture,” says Ed Lutrell, president of the National Grange. “We believe that production agriculture is important to the world—it’s feeding millions of people. Local, small-market agriculture is equally as important because what the American consumer is demanding is locally grown, wholesome, safe food. We’re in complete support of that process as well.”

But those active in the new farming movement, keenly aware of the environmental perils of BigAg and champions of a wacky notion that places sustainability ahead of profit, could not care less about being cautious.

Neither could many Grangers who came before them. Continue full article here.

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article: west coast grange wars


On one hand you have an established order that, while quick to conjure its Populist origins, appears threatened by the kind of grassroots change it once championed. On the other, a contingent of rogue Grangers—progressives decidedly less interested in nostalgia than their national counterpart—attempting to breathe new life into an aging system that doesn’t seem to want the CPR.

[ …]

“There’s a contestation around what the Grange will be,” says Von Tscharner Fleming. “Right now, the Grange present is captured by a pretty corporate voice. The original Populist voice of the Grange is not present on the national level. We called our project Grange Future because we’re claiming an interpretation. We’re saying: the future’s a long time and we’re going to be here and we can use these buildings and this infrastructure.”

In a captivating article feature on In These Times, John Collins takes on the history of The Grange, the recent polemical schism between the California Grange and the national organization, and Grange Future.

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new 2015 programs at the grange farm school

The Grange Programs for new and beginning farmer education as well as opportunities for experienced farmers looking to learn more. Apply now to be one of the first students of an emerging hub for sustainable agricultural education, or register for one of the exciting workshops being offered!
The Grange Farm School is dedicated to teaching the next generation of responsible, innovative, and successful farmers.  We are strong believers in experiential education, and our Practicum Student Program is built upon that philosophy.  A combination of hands-on field work instruction with rigorous academic curriculum provide an environment for students to learn the foundations of integrated crops and livestock operations, business management, industrial arts, sustainable technologies and ecological restoration.

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