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Membership News
Membership: Welcome Simsbury Grange Apprentices

By Faith Quinlan, CT State Grange Membership Director

  August 20, 2020 --

We proudly welcome our three new Simsbury Grange Farmer Apprentices!  Sue Masino of Simsbury Grange was able to get funding for this program and candidates were selected through an application process.  This program helps farmers and our communities at a time when they are most in crisis.


Margaret Reed is a teaching professional in the Hartford Public Schools and lives in Torrington.  She is working at George Hall Farm (www.georgehallfarm.com/) helping at the farm for many years and has learned many helpful and interesting things about agriculture.  She came to the farm when she was having difficulty with her own garden and she finally gave up because she had enough of the woodchuck who kept eating everything!  Margaret was even a camper at our own Camp Berger in her youth.

She signed up for the CSA because it was organic and in time developed a friendship with the father, Mr. Hall.  Over the past 25 years she has developed a friendship with Darren Hall and she explains how things are very different now and Corona has changed things so much.  CSAs are delivered to people wearing masks and gloves.  I asked her about something she finds interesting or surprising about her work at the farm and she mentioned that so much of the crop can’t be sent to market or event to CSAs because it is oversize or “ugly” or “weird” in appearance.  Things need to look a certain way or people do not want them.

She is very proud of this farm.  When organic is a term that has been stretched from the original meeting it is good to get your food from an ethical farm.  Margaret told me she thinks people should understand why organic produce is higher in price.  She has learned that keeping the soil clean and organic is difficult and time consuming and contributes to the higher price.  She is there 3-5 days a week depending on their need and enjoys what she call the “after hours” tips to growing success she has been sworn to secrecy to keep.

When asked about her long-range plans as it relates to agriculture and farming she said she would like to start a Grange in Hartford.  She believes that people need to know where food comes from.  She would want this Grange to be a place to teach people, a place where people learn where their food comes from and to teach children about plants.  Hartford has a large population of people of color and people who have lives their entire lives in the city or urban areas and have not been exposed to farms or planting and growing in a relatable way.  She says that she believes if a farmer came to talk to the kids about his plants or better yet brought them to the farm, “Kids are hungry to learn about farming.”  She would choose Darren Hall to be the teacher.

I am excited to keep working with Margaret to make that Grange a reality and collaborate with farmers and the community to create a rich educational program for adults and children.  We are wishing Margaret continued success through the season and maybe if we’re lucky she will give up some hints we can use in our own gardens.


Koehley Czech, of Cromwell, CT, is a UConn student working on a double major in Environmental Science and Sustainable Plant and Soil Systems.  She works at George Hall Farm, www.georgehallfarm.com/, picking crops, irrigation, cleaning, weeding and some planting.  She does a lot of work for the CSA program and getting things ready to bring to market.  The CSA program sold out this year.  She has been most surprised at the volume of work and amount of time it takes to get things picked and cleaned.  She has spent many hours picking squash and cucumbers.  At a young age Koehley became a vegetarian and her interest in organic and safer farming grew.  She hopes to use her apprenticeship to learn more about what is done in farming and why it is done so that she can help develop systems that help the farmer, earth, humans and animals.  It is a pleasure to have her working in the apprentice program and we are excited to follow and support her as she continues in agriculture.  Wishing her a great season and best of luck as she completes her degree.


Jack Galt is a high school junior at Simsbury High School and is working with Flamig Farm in West Simsbury (flamigfarm.com).  He has been helping with maintenance projects.  He has an interest in mechanical work and is looking to get a degree in Mechanical Engineering when he graduates high school.  Flamig Farm owners Julie & Nevin Christensen are members of Simsbury Grange.  Their farms has a memorable EGGS sign on the roof of their barn, they have a petting zoo, pony rides and many events plus products for sale.  We wish Jack a great season with the Flamig Farm and all the best for his future!

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