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BURLINGTON, VERMONT – Historic New England and the Vermont Folklife Center give Vermont’s agricultural heritage a starring role in a documentary film premiering this April. Rooted: Cultivating Community in the Vermont Grange explores how this national farmers’ organization has worked to strengthen and preserve rural communities since 1867.
Created in partnership with Middle Branch Grange in East Bethel and Riverside Grange in West Topsham, the film explores the social, economic, political, and agricultural impacts of the National Grange on Vermont’s rural communities over the past 150 years. The film 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.
Free screenings are scheduled at Riverside Grange in West Topsham on Friday, April 6, and Middle Branch Grange in East Bethel on Saturday, April 14. Future screenings will be announced.
“The Riverside and Middle Branch Granges welcomed us to film celebrations, card parties, community suppers, a farmer’s market, and more,” says Charlotte Barrett, community preservation manager for Historic New England. “Granges continue to provide a sense of belonging and many still practice centuries-old traditions while exploring ways to respond to contemporary needs. It is our hope that the film conveys the powerful bond of community and generates a creative exploration of ways the Grange can remain a vital institution in Vermont.”
The partnership with the Vermont Folklife Center – whose mission is to explore, document, and share the diverse cultures of Vermont – brought an ethnographic approach to the film project. “Ethnographic research is the process through which we discover the invisible ‘knowledge of everyday living’ as well as the values that shape community identity. At the Riverside and Middle Branch Granges, the living connection to the past through ritual, work, and social gathering is paramount,” explains Vermont Folklife Center filmmaker Ned Castle.
About the Project
The documentary was supported in part by grants to Historic New England from the Alma Gibbs Donchian Foundation, 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.
The Preservation Trust of Vermont and the Vermont State Grange have served in an advisory capacity throughout the project.
The film is the latest project in Historic New England’s Everyone’s History series, which partners with communities and organizations throughout the region to collect and share stories through exhibitions, walking tours, films, publications, and programs.