Grange Notes by Tim Swartz, Grange President (with everyone’s help), May 25, 2020
Rural Vermont started as a group of dairy farmers, getting together to “amplify their voices in the face of falling prices, rising costs, and increasingly burdensome regulation”. Since then, they have worked:
- to improve the Current Use program
- to legislate mandatory rBGH labeling
- to create the Northeast Dairy Compact
- for town resolutions against GMOs
- for allowing direct sales of milk and poultry from farmers to consumers
- for legalization of hemp cultivation
- for involvement of small farmers in development of agricultural regulations
- and many other campaigns–find out more at RuralVermont.org.
Starting at 5:00 on June 6th, a representative from Rural VT will be speaking with us about the organization and what the Coronavirus has shown us about the vulnerabilities of our national food supply system, and the value of being able to get produce, meat and other farm products from local producers. We’ll hear their story, and then have an opportunity to ask questions and discuss the many aspects of our food systems–local, regional and national–and how they affect our lives.
Once we get information about the speaker, I’ll send out another Grange Notes with the information, and the Zoom meeting info you will need to watch and listen to the program. This info will also be posted on the Grange website calendar: here!
Grange Lecturer Carl Etnier arranged this program, and will be the moderator for it.
1/2 hour Grange meeting before the program
Our “executive session” Zoom meeting will start at 4:30, to discuss the state of the Grange regarding finances, rentals, and whatever else we have time for. Merry, our Treasurer, will present her usual monthly financial report, and we’ll discuss how the finances look in this time of extremely low cashflow. We will also be discussing the early beginnings of rentals to some of our long-term regular renters:
- We have started allowing the Montpelier Church of Christ to hold Sunday morning services. They came to us making a commitment to meet as safely as possible–using social distancing, wearing masks and having only a small number of people–see the photo below which they sent us. We appreciate their pro-active approach!
- The West African Dance class will try out a class in the parking lot this Tuesday. These dancers keep space between people (very unlike contra dancing, for example!), so we think this is a reasonable event to try outdoors, even for a sweaty activity!
- We have asked AVP Detail, our usual cleaning service to do a disinfectant cleaning of door handles, railings, bathroom fixtures, water fountains, etc. once a week.
- We are keeping the kitchen off-limits for obvious reasons; we also do not want groups to meet downstairs, which has much less ventilation than the upstairs Hall.
- We are limiting the use of the Hall to established renters, rather than one-time events. We want to work with the people who have been a regular part of the Grange community, with whom we share the long-term interests of keeping the Grange Hall a welcoming–but safe–space.
We are paying close attention to the guidance given by the VT Dept. of Health and the Governor’s weekly briefings. While we don’t fit exactly in the buckets of “business re-start” or “retail spaces”, the general advice given is very helpful.
We’ll be discussing all of these questions in our Zoom Grange meeting on June 6th–check the Grange Calendar listing for the meeting link and log-in information to log in. Or contact me, and I’ll send you an invitation! Note–this is a separate Zoom event from the Program meeting with Rural VT, see the separate Calendar listing for log-in info to that event.
Montpelier Church of Christ–taking care of each other and the rest of us!
Compost program–even more information!
On Dec. 7th of 2019, back when we could meet in person, we had an excellent presentation on the mandatory disposal requirements for food waste, which take effect on July 1st. Two presenters from the Central VT Solid Waste Management District (CVSWMD) gave us good information about options for dealing with food waste–including composting at home.
Last week, I was able to “attend” a longer, on-line workshop by CVSWMD on “Compost Basics”, including food waste of all types. With more time, more specifics about the best ways to compost for garden soil enrichment and for disposal of food scraps was presented. I learned a bunch of useful info, and I’ve been composting for years (just not very expertly, it turns out)!
Attendees were sent a link to a recording of the Zoom presentation, and all the discussion, which I am sharing–just click this link and use the password “C0mp0st!”
CVSWMD offers quite a few participatory, on-line, meetings using Zoom, including more Compost Basics sessions, plus workshops on how to dispose of household waste, and specific recycling guidance. You can see the dates and register–for free!–using this link.
Wi-fi is free at the Grange Hall!
Since 2014, we’ve offered Free Wi-fi there, and it’s available without a password outside the Hall as well as inside. I found the best signal on the driveway on the West side of the Hall, that is the side closer to Rt. 12.
For Grange Notes readers in other parts of the state, the State Dept. of Public Service has posted a map of public Wi-fi hotspots all over Vermont. You can get to it via this link: https://publicservice.vermont.gov/content/public-wifi-hotspots-vermont. We are listed there, along with hundreds of other locations.
If you have kids who need broadband access, or you need it for working “from home”, these are all resources that will help.
A little history: We got our Wi-fi router installed for free, as part of the “Vermont Digital Economy Project”. The VDEP arranged for hotspots like ours and Wi-fi zones to be installed for public use all around the state. The intent was to help communities stay connected, especially in cases of emergencies–like our current one!–which require good communications and strong community institutions.
The VDEP was funded by federal grants through the VT Council on Rural Development, in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. That statewide disaster revealed which communities recovered fastest–it was those with strong connections, strong communications and strong community institutions. The Grange’s mission fits very well with these criteria, and the help we got through the VDEP made us a stronger community partner. Besides the Wi-fi, we got help rebuilding our website, and were introduced to MailChimp as a tool to send these Grange Notes!
We greatly appreciate the help we got, and are eager to do our part to help those who need it in our current crisis.
To learn more about the VDEP, visit https://www.vtrural.org/programs/digital-economy