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Sunday Towns: Grange Revival in Hessel

Friday, July 19th, 2013 | Posted by

Mark Blanchard rides away from the Hessel Grange after visiting the Wednesday night Growers Exchange.

Photos by KENT PORTER / Press Democrat

Wednesday afternoons are the time for neighbors to exchange plants, seeds and surplus produce at the Hessel Grange Growers Exchange. It’s just one of the signs that this once idle building has come back to life.

After 43 years in Hessel, membership had dwindled so far by July 2007 that the grange became inactive. A year later, a group of neighbors came together around a kitchen table to brainstorm new uses for the vacant hall and its pretty picnic grounds. They held a community open house to find out what people wanted and came up with a new mission for the old grange.

With 80 members, it now serves as a place for people to follow their passions.In addition to the Growers Exchange, it is used for yoga classes, a ping pong night, lectures, 4-H meetings and rescue-dog training classes. In August, members also will gather for an ice cream social.

“A lot of us didn’t even know what a grange was,” said Beth Lewis, a second and third grade teacher. “We decided to start a new grange, and I didn’t step back fast enough, so I was made grange master.”

Read the full story on the Sebastopol Towns site.

From left, Ben Renaud of Fop-Doodle Farms, Kerry and Olivia Williams, Carrie Sheehan and Mikey Gardner of Williams Ranches swap vegetables.

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Ann Hutchinson is our Santa Rosa correspondent.
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