In the historic Mabel Schoolhouse lies an all-but-forgotten organization of farmers and community, the Mohawk Valley Community Grange in Marcola. While the history of these community buildings is long, this grange is taking on a new role as one of the community’s oldest backbones.
“The spirit of the grange is opening up the community,” Grangemaster Tom Baratta says. “We try to open the doors through volunteerism, planning community events, fundraising and renting out the facility.”
Since the formation of The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry in 1867, the grange has been a focal point for farmers and rural communities alike. It is one of the oldest examples of a grassroots, bottom-up organization. Farmers would come to share techniques, equipment as well as political and economic interests.
Nowadays the Mohawk Valley Community Grange isn’t all about raising barns and agrarian issues; it’s about socializing within the community. “We tend to shy away from the national grange’s political platform, but we share in the idea of getting together and pulling together for the better of the community,” Baratta says.
While most granges have dried up, much like the population of farmers, the Mohawk Valley Community Grange remains one of 22 active granges in Lane County. Aside from taking care of business, this grange hosts weekly tai chi and yoga classes plus the Mohawk Valley Lions Club’s Texas hold ’em poker events.