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Around The Grange
Maine Grange plans building bee for kitchen

By Betty Jespersen, Lewiston Sun Journal, Maine (8/6/10)

  AUGUST 16, 2010 --

In the tradition of neighbors helping neighbors, members of Maine's Farmington Grange are asking folks to join them in an old-fashioned "building bee."

Help is needed with an ongoing project to develop a commercial kitchen and convert the 19th century Grange hall into a year-round facility for agricultural ventures.

The gathering begins at 7:30 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 22. Volunteers will be provided with a potluck meal at noon and at the end of the work day, homemade pie and ice cream. The hall is on Bridge Street next to the West Farmington post office.

Volunteers are asked to bring hand tools, if they have them, and a dish to share.

People can sign up to work on tasks depending on their skill level and each work group will be led by a coordinator, said Grange member Richard Marble.

The main work will be framing walls and interior partitions downstairs in preparation for new wiring and wallboard in the kitchen, handicapped-accessible bathroom and two, 8-foot by 16-foot, walk-in coolers, he said. There will also be some painting and maintenance repairs needed, inside and out, Marble said. "And for those not that adept at using hand tools, we will need help with the noontime meal," he said.

"I would love to have 40 people show up. You know - many hands make light work," he said.

The Grange's goal is to create a distribution center for local food and help the local agricultural community, he said.

This year, the building was winterized following an energy audit completed with the help of Western Maine Community Action. The attic, main floor and walls were insulated; the upstairs rewired; an attic door insulated and sealed off to prevent heat loss; and an old, coal-converted-to-fuel oil furnace has been removed and is being replaced with a cast-iron pellet stove, he said.

In the basement, where the coolers and kitchen will be, volunteers have already pulled down the old walls in preparation for the community work day, Marble said.

The Grange hall is used by the winter Farmington Farmers Market, is the drop-off location for the Farmington Food Co-op, and the winter distribution point for Western Maine Market's online farmers market (www.westernmainemarket.com). It is also used for monthly contra dances and other community events.

The plan is to have a kitchen where people can rent space for a nominal fee and process food for their own use or for sale. There are also plans to develop a food distribution depot for farmers who want to store, process, or ship products to markets in Portland, Boston and beyond.

The work, so far, has been funded with about $40,000 in grants and donations, including $10,000 from the town of Farmington's tax increment financing reserve fund.

Those interested in volunteering are asked to call Marble at 491-6166 or 778-6968.



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