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.
Our Vision for our new Community/Commercial Kitchen facility:
Imagine a community kitchen 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 is focused on meeting community needs by addressing three major improvements:
1. Community Kitchen
Development of a shared-use community kitchen facility was at the heart of our past capital project. Expanding and renovating the Grange’s kitchen greatly increased 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 has been built and equipped to commercial standards and functions as a commercial “incubator” facility to support small-scale economic development.
Our community kitchen facility sees a wide area of interest, from using the facility commercially to process products ranging from baked goods and jams to lard and honey, to community members offering educational workshops. Some possibilities available for the use of the Community Kitchen:
- 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
The Grange has upgraded to energy-efficient insulation which allows 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 a kitchen in the winter months. An energy-efficient, year-round facility also indirectly benefits the community as a whole by encouraging increased social activity in the wintertime. For the first time, this winter, we were able to offer monthly social events at our Grange. All were very well attended and we got great feedback about our winter activities and how welcome they were during the long winter months.
The installation of a ramp has made our facility accessible to those with disabilities and has made it possible for all community members to participate in Grange events and meetings. We are exploring the possibility of installing an elevator which would benefit elder and disabled members of our community, allowing them to participate in meetings and events on the 2nd floor of the building.
Community members are invited to contribute via check or online donation. Contribution checks should be made out to Halcyon Grange #345 and mailed to:
Elise Schellhase, Secretary
c/o Halcyon Grange #345
347 Kingdom Road
Blue Hill, Maine 04614
Online donations can be made via this website using the Donate button at the top, right side of the page.
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.