Missoula Grange Meeting

Big Fat Mike
So we had another Grange meeting and made some more progress, thanks so much to Annie Heuscher for facilitating-in-absentia and preparing such detailed notes.  We began the meeting reviewing the previous meeting’s minutes and discussing some of the points from the last meeting, then began with this month’s agenda:

In Attendance

Scott and Marie Nicholson mtstategrange@earthlink.net

Anne Little solianna.mt@gmail.com

Steven Hale stevenhale99@yahoo.com

Alton Helm primose.station@gmail.com

Maximillian Smith missoulagvc@gmail.com

Meeting Space

Anne Little was kind enough to volunteer to host the meeting this time at the Sunrise Coffee Shop.  For the time being her space could be used again, but a much larger group of people would require us to relocate the meeting.

Social Media

I’d like us to find more ways to engage to Grange page of Facebook to increase our reach.  We’re always making steady progress but it could definitely be growing faster.

Purpose/Focus

This was the meat and potatoes of our meeting, Annie provided us with an excellent framework to identify players in the local ag space, what they contribute to our community, and eventually identify holes that we can fill through the formation of our Grange chapter.  After refining our ideas we came up with a list to further consider, of areas that we can be beneficial to our community through a Grange:

Heritage and Tradition: The Grange is an organization with roots, with rich heritage and traditions.  This organization is local, but also benefits from a network of time tested and resilient organizations with an eye to rural values and improvement of ourselves and each other.

Older/Younger Farmer Connections:  It’s been mentioned at all of our meetings, outreach to young farmers who don’t necessarily come from that background hasn’t been entirely successful.  The grange could be a place to bring together new and energetic farmers with experienced farmers to help keep small/medium scale production alive in our area.

All Under One Roof:  A lot of the organizations we discussed during our brainstorming were very specialized, the Grange could be a platform for the individuals and organizations to work together more effectively to benefit the community.  A Grange is a place where you could learn about bees, equipment, network with producers and consumers, talk to people about insurance, etc.  Having access to all different sorts of people in one place could be beneficial to the membership and the community.

Scale:  The Grange is a huge organization with a state and national leadership structure, which many organizations lack.

Farm Product Transportation (Rail):  The Grange could be a vehicle for all sorts of cooperative effort amongst our members, and one of this could be arranging for transportation of produce in a more efficient manner to feed Missoula.

Connect Organizations:  Mentioned above.

Outreach/Broad Base:  Because of the mass appeal that our organization could have (in addition to our state and national support), we could use a Grange chapter as an effective vehicle for outreach.

Double Snap/Education:  The Grange could be involved in the Double Snap program to help our members sell healthy local products, but also to educate people to help them use their benefits to buy healthy raw materials and make them into healthy tasty meals (or even preserve some of them).

Filling/Growing Programs:  With the broad base the Grange could provide, we could help fill positions in existing programs or work with other organizations to help them promote and grow existing programs.

Working With Other Granges:  One of the great benefits of the Grange is a network of thousands of other community organizations.

Fun:  ’nuff said.

Tool/Implement Share:  Small-scale farmers in the area could be greatly benefitted by a program to give them access to equipment through a Tool Library model, which would also increase the perceived value of Grange membership and help to grow our numbers.

Bulk Purchasing:  Some organizations already do have bulk purchasing programs, but some are very specific or specialized, and a large Grange chapter could connect people with similar needs.

Organizing Volunteers:  The Grange could be an effective vehicle for organizing volunteers to help in emergency/time sensitive situations.  Not only could we help each other through monthly barn raising style events, we could be a large group of volunteers to mobilize in reaction to specific local events.

Promote Montana Outside our State:  The national reach of the Grange, and the cooperation of our local Grange members, could be opportunities to promote Montana Ag and businesses outside our state.

Farm Days:  The Grange in Missoula could organize an annual community even to bring together consumers and producers in a fun way to educate and build community.

Food Hubs:  Our Grange could organize more locations for members to sell fresh produce and value add products as a benefit to members and a convenience to our community that values walking and biking around town.

Upcoming Events

Junior Grange Camp (5-14 YO): Elliston/Echo Valley Camp Ground-18-21 June

Western Regional Leaders/Youth Conference: Couer d’Alene, Camp Lutherhaven-31July to 02 August

Next Meeting

30 June 2015, 6:00 PM

Thanks to everyone that came to the last few meetings!  If you’re from the Missoula area and are interested in agriculture, gardening, ag-related entrepreneurship, food, whatever, consider coming to our next meeting and learn a little more about the Grange and where we are in our process to form a chapter here in Missoula!

For those interested I can be reached at primrose.station@gmail.com, or at 757-775-0507, or go to the Missoula Grange Facebook page: Missoula Grange

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