“Here is our Grange Field. Our AmeriCorps team has pulled weeds and tried to nourish the soil, the soil has nourished us by providing our meals, we have protected this field by beginning to put up proper deer fencing. It does not belong to us, but within the past few weeks, this Grange Field feels connected and familiar. Like it is ours.
I would have sworn my AmeriCorps team leader had made up the word grange, like frindle, when I first heard it. After looking it up in the dictionary though, I was proven wrong. For a few weeks before arriving at the Grange Farm School in Willits, CA, I lived with the understanding of a grange as an association that serves a network of farmers.
The agricultural community in Mendocino County proved the dictionary wrong though. My understanding was not incorrect per se, but was a vast understatement of how the Grange operates. It is a living body that not only connects farmers, but makes the modern farm possible. It shares knowledge, interpersonal connections, resources, techniques, secrets, and a whole lot of empathy for its community.
The day we arrived at the farm to serve with Ruthie King, she propounded, “asking questions is the key.” This philosophy plays out in the Grange. If one needs a resource shared or a problem solved, one only needs to ask and the community provides all it can. This has benefitted our team as us agricultural novices broaden our knowledge and skills every day. As we inquire upon our curiosities here, we grow just like the deer fence we are constructing, and like the carrots in the soil, and like the community that welcomes us.”
-Written by Tony DeMarco of Americorps NCCC