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Around The Grange
Grange Month celebrated at Killingly Grange

By Denise Coffey, Reminder News (4/17/12)

  APRIL 17, 2012 --

Killingly Grange #112 hosted an open house and history night on Monday, April 16. According to Assistant Steward Bernadette Schuster, the event was meant to provide information on the grange's history as the nation's first general farm and community organization, and its ongoing mission of serving the community.

“The Connecticut State Grange has been an integral part of rural and non-rural communities across the state for over 125 years,” said Public Relations Co-Director for the Connecticut State Grange Terri Fassio. In Connecticut, the grange has experienced a net gain in membership from 2010 to 2011. Numbers for 2012 are impressive, according to Fassio. There are 56 grange chapters in the state. They make up part of the 2,700 local, county and state grange chapters located in more than 35 states. Granges across the country are celebrating April as Grange Month.

Founded in 1867, the organization grew out of a desire to protect and improve the economic position of American farmers. The spread of railroads had a lot to do with the establishment of the grange, according to Killingly Grand Master Denise Aubin. Farmers would raise and ship their crops via rail and didn't receive payment until afterward. “They didn't know the prices they were getting when they shipped crops out,” she said, “and they were getting scalped.”

The primary mission of the grange is still about ensuring the rural and agricultural voice of America is heard. And it is about community. The meeting hall was turned into a grange museum of sorts for the evening. Record books and journals were protected with plastic. Polaroids of installations and square-dancing events and fairs were spread across several tables. A framed collection of 37 first-place ribbons that Florida Boucher accumulated between 1965 and 1973 hung in a place of honor on the wall. Grange fair programs including recipes and contest categories lay open for examination. Members held a potluck supper and then shared their favorite grange memories. Most of them were about the friendships formed, and the annual events that had become family traditions.

Killingly members have worked in food banks, made baby blankets for foster programs and baby hats for Day Kimball's maternity program. They collect soup labels to benefit Killingly Central School. The collected wisdom of its members is a huge plus, according to Aubin. “If you have garden trouble, we have gardeners. If you need information about Relay for Life, we have a member who knows what's going on. We can learn from the wisdom of the people who are here,” she said. “Grange members do a lot of little things. All those little things add up.”

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