The Halcyon Grange: Then & Now
The Grange organization is committed to serving local farming interests and improving economic and social opportunities for rural families. More broadly, the organization empowers individuals and families to develop their talents in order to build stronger communities.
For over a century, the Halcyon Grange has served the community both through the active volunteerism of its members and through its vital role as a community gathering space for meetings, suppers, educational events, and other social functions.
Chartered in 1898, the Halcyon Grange is a local chapter of the National Grange, the oldest agricultural advocacy group on a national scale. The National Grange was formed in 1867 to unify farmers from the north and south in a spirit of mutual cooperation. State and local Granges played a major role in advocating for rural communities on issues such as railroad transportation regulation and free rural mail delivery. The Grange is nonprofit and non-partisan, and was unique from the outset in providing equal opportunity to women and men, with women encouraged to serve as officers.
At a time when Grange membership has dwindled nationally, a resurgence of interest in local food and farming has attracted new members to the Halcyon Grange, including young farming families and their supporters. There has also been renewed community interest in the Grange Hall as a valued space for social, economic, and educational activities and interactions. The Halcyon Grange is well- positioned to revitalize its role as a vibrant community center and vehicle for the economic development of local food producers. The capital campaign proposes to realize this vision through a needed renovation of the Grange facility that will render it handicapped accessible, energy-efficient for year-round use, and more functional through an expansion of its community kitchen for both social and commercial uses.
Project Description & Community Benefits
Imagine a community kitchen built to commercial standards where farmers and homesteaders can transform surplus crops into new “Made in Maine” specialty food items. Imagine a winter farmers’ market that offers community members an opportunity to connect with producers and one another in the off-season. Imagine a grade school or home-schooled group of children learning how to make and preserve applesauce in a spacious kitchen where each child can see and participate in the process. Imagine a family reunion where relatives can prepare an entire meal on site, and all generations can access the upper floor to watch a slide show or a family skit. Imagine an accessible site for a local organization’s annual meeting where volunteers can cook hors-d’oeuvres on site instead of transporting cumbersome platters from home.
This list of potential uses of the Grange Hall is based on the real need for a year- round, accessible gathering space and shared-use kitchen facility in our community. There is no affordable place in the community that currently serves this need, and the mission of the Grange is well suited to meeting this demand.
The Halcyon Grange capital campaign is focused on improving the functionality, energy-efficiency, and accessibility of the Grange facility to meet community needs. These issues will be addressed by three major improvements:
1. Community Kitchen
Development of a shared-use community kitchen facility is at the heart of this capital project. Expanding and renovating the Grange’s kitchen will greatly increase the functionality of the Grange Hall for a broad range of community members, from individuals who need space and equipment to process and preserve food for the winter months to groups who wish to host or attend a variety of educational workshops and social events.
The community kitchen will be built and equipped to commercial standards and will also function as a commercial “incubator” facility to support small-scale economic development. Survey data supports the need for such a facility among local producers of value-added products.
Twenty-six out of twenty-eight survey respondents to-date have expressed interest in using a community kitchen facility, with over half indicating the highest level of interest and commitment to the project. Over 80% of respondents would use the facility commercially to process products ranging from baked goods and jams to lard and honey. A handful of respondents are excited to offer educational workshops. Many respondents shared their enthusiasm for the project:
- This would allow me to really expand my business: jams, jellies, sauces, soups, baked goods—I would definitely use it.”
- “I think it is a great idea! I was just wondering how I could turn my kitchen into a commercial one inexpensively.”
- “I am excited to see you offering this opportunity to the community.”
- “I am very excited that this is being pursued! I was just talking about something like this with my husband a few months ago. I will pass along the word.”
- “What a great benefit a community kitchen would be to the community and to me personally!”
- “I call on memories [of growing up on a farm] when I cook, and I cook with as much local product as possible. I would love to teach folks baking and putting by food. Memories and cooking can keep deep traditions living.”
2. Insulation/Window Replacement
Insulating the Grange and upgrading to energy-efficient windows will allow the facility to be used year-round, providing a clear benefit not only to Grange members but also to any community member or organization seeking an affordable gathering or event space and kitchen in the winter months. An energy-efficient, year-round facility will also indirectly benefit the community as a whole by encouraging increased social activity in the wintertime.
The installation of an elevator will benefit elder and disabled members of our community, allowing them to participate in meetings and events on the 2nd floor of the building.
Budget & Timeline
The Halcyon Grange has been successful in attracting grant funding to set the stage for this capital campaign. In 2011, the Grange was awarded a Community Health Alliance grant and a local community foundation grant to undertake a formal energy evaluation and a project feasibility study. These initial steps have resulted in a project vision and estimated budget:
|Renovation Item||Estimated Cost|
|Kitchen renovation and expansion||$68,076.40|
|Commercial kitchen equipment||$19,985.00|
|Platform lift (elevator)||$21,757.19|
In 2012, the Grange received a grant from the Maine Community Foundation Hancock County Fund to develop its campaign strategy and materials to advance the project. The Grange anticipates seeking grant funds for the capital project in 2012/2013 but will also need the support of individual and small business donors in order to achieve its campaign goals. Ground-breaking for the renovation is planned for spring 2013.
Community members are invited to contribute to this project via check or online donation. Contribution checks should be made out to Halcyon Grange #345 and mailed to:
John Tyler, Capital Campaign Chair
c/o Halcyon Grange #345
P.O. Box 213
Blue Hill, Maine 04614
Online donations can be made via this website using the Donate button at the top, right side of the page.
For more information about the project or about the Grange, contact one of the following project volunteers:
Capital Campaign Committee Chair
Kitchen Committee Chair
Thank you for your support! Your generosity will enable the Halcyon Grange to better support the needs of our farming families while serving the interests of the greater community.