Rooted: Cultivating Community in the Vermont Grange

The Middle Branch Grange provides lunch for agricultural organizations like the Vermont Jersey Breeders Association, which often hold meetings at the hall.

The latest installment of Historic New England’s Everyone’s History series focuses on Vermont’s deeply rooted agricultural traditions. In a documentary premiering April 2018, we go inside the Grange, the national farmers’ fraternal order that has worked to strengthen and preserve rural communities since 1867.

Created in partnership with the Middle Branch Grange in East Bethel and Riverside Grange in West Topsham, Rooted: Cultivating Community in the Vermont Grange explores the social, economic, political, and agricultural impacts the National Grange has had on Vermont’s rural communities over the past 150 years. The documentary, filmed by the Vermont Folklife Center, weaves archival images and oral histories with footage of modern-day Grange events to paint a comprehensive picture of the organization and the New Englanders it supports.

This project is part of Historic New England’s effort to save and share stories of the everyday lives of New Englanders. Visit the Everyone’s History page to learn more and view past films and other projects. 

Partial funding for Rooted has been provided by grants from the Alma Gibbs Donchian Foundation, the National Grange American Arts and Culture Fund, the Vermont Community Foundation Small and Inspiring grant program, the Farm Credit Northeast AgEnhancement program, and the Williston branch of Yankee Farm Credit, with additional support from Lyman Orton and Janice Izzi through the Vermont Folklife Center. Please consider making a contribution to help complete the film. Please call the Historic New England Development Office at 617-994-5951.

Watch the Trailer

Snapshots from life in the Grange

Life in the Vermont Grange

Arlene Conant prepares chicken pies for the annual fall Middle Branch Grange chicken pie supper, an event eagerly anticipated by surrounding communities. All photos courtesy of the Vermont Folklife Center.

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  • Life in the Vermont Grange

    Arlene Conant prepares chicken pies for the annual fall Middle Branch Grange chicken pie supper, an event eagerly anticipated by surrounding communities. All photos courtesy of the Vermont Folklife Center.

  • Life in the Vermont Grange

    Riverside Grange member Jim Bulger is deeply committed to finding ways that the Grange can support its community, by sharing the hall for local events, providing a location for the food shelf, and sponsoring programs of interest to rural residents.

  • Life in the Vermont Grange

    Joe Williams has been a Middle Branch Grange member for fifty years. “Middle Branch has stayed traditionally a farm organization and farm friendly—it’s the whole family that’s involved and the young people keep growing up in it.”

  • Life in the Vermont Grange

    Middle Branch is one of only two Granges remaining in the state with a Junior Grange. Its meeting includes the same ritual as the adult grange, as well as games and crafts, for children ages five to fourteen.

  • Life in the Vermont Grange

    The Middle Branch Grange holds a Sugar-on-Snow celebration each March when the sap is running and there is still snow on the ground.

  • Life in the Vermont Grange

    Middle Branch Grange members contribute the maple syrup for the Sugar-on-Snow celebration from their own sugaring operations.

  • Life in the Vermont Grange

    Janet Angell, a seventh-generation dairy farmer, often brings her granddaughter with her during chore time.

  • Life in the Vermont Grange

    Card parties at Middle Branch Grange members’ houses help pass the quieter winter months.

  • Life in the Vermont Grange

    Heather Bulger has been instrumental in establishment of the Riverside Grange farmers’ market, which provides a way for the Grange and community to connect.

  • Life in the Vermont Grange

    Sharing community through food is central to Grange tradition. In 2017 the Riverside Grange and town of Topsham joined forces to hold the annual community picnic at the Grange hall.

  • Life in the Vermont Grange

    Leo Gadwah explains the rules to a family attending the Let’s Go Fishing Derby, a statewide event that educates youth about water ecology and responsible fishing. The Riverside Grange sponsors the Derby for surrounding communities.

  • Life in the Vermont Grange

    Young anglers take their job very seriously at the Let’s Go Fishing Derby.