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Portage, MI 49024

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This column is not only for Lecturer’s and Family Activities Chairs in your Granges. I put information in the MGN that I hope all Grange members of Michigan read. I try to include a variety of topics. Please let me know what you would like to know more about, and I will try to comply.
It is interesting to note that in the past three years, we experienced some significant winter weather just before I wrote the article. That is true this year as well, with the ice and snow that Michigan had the past few days. There are a lot of trees and power lines down in Kalamazoo County, and it has been interesting figuring out what roads are open. Ah, but we have Spring less than a month away!

​March 20 is the first day of spring this year, and even though our winter has not been too terrible, we look forward to the “greening up” and the flowers that begin to bloom. I found some interesting fun facts at funfactoday.com/seasons/spring-facts-trivia/ that might provide interesting discussion at a Grange meeting. Did you realize that the sun, on the first day of spring, skims across the horizon, signaling the beginning of six months of uninterrupted daylight for people at the North Pole and six months continuous darkness for those at the South Pole? During the Spring, birds are more vocal as they sing to attract mates and warn away rivals. In spring, the Earth’s axis is tilted toward the sun, increasing the number of daylight hours and bringing warmer weather. Many early peoples celebrated spring for the basic reason that their food supplies would soon be restored. Spring is often associated with rebirth, renewal and regrowth.

​The Sesquicentennial Gala will be held April 15 in Okemos. It is hoped that many Grange members will attend. The committee has been working hard to make this a memorable event. Make sure that you RSVP to Rich Hazen as described in another section of this issue. The Gala will include a hot luncheon meal, a short program, display of your Subordinate Grange boards showing your activities, a raffle drawing, door prizes, and special guests – all for free. Thanks to all the Granges and individuals that supported the raffle (still tickets available), as well as made donations or sold candy to make this day possible.
Some of you may be wondering what happened with regard to gathering and publishing Subordinate Grange histories that I began over a year ago. I had to pause this project as a result of family health and other projects pertinent to the April 15 Gala. I plan to restart this project in May. For those of you that have submitted your histories, thanks! For those of you that have not yet submitted them, I will be calling to get some information. The hope is that a booklet of these will be available at the 2023 Michigan State Grange session.
I always like to include holidays in my MGN copy or my newsletters. There are so many in March and April! This year, Daylight Saving Time begins March 12, when we “lose an hour” and move our clocks forward. Many religious holidays occur in March and April – Ramadan begins March 22, Passover is April 5 – April 15, Easter is April 9, and Orthodox Easter is April 16. If you are not award of all of these, this could be a little research project and provide information for a program. April 18 is Tax Day. One of my favorites is National Grilled Cheese Day on April 12.


Although the last week has shown us a few lingering snow showers, I am energized by the buds and leafing out of the trees, as well as all the flowering trees and shrubs. I was also energized at the turnout and participation of Granges at the Michigan State Grange Sesquicentennial celebration on April 15. The boards that individuals Granges created about their activities, as well a​s support with donations, selling candy and attending all made this day special. Thank you!
I suspect that many of you have your garden planned, and may even have some of the plants already growing inside preparing them for transplanting outside. This year, there are five different opportunities in Michigan State and National Grange contests with regard to your gardens.
One of the Michigan State Grange photography categories is gardens. There are so many possibilities to capture photos of your gardening endeavors. There are no changes to the photography contest rules this year – refer to the Michigan State Grange Program Book distributed with the January/ February Michigan Grange News. In addition, the National Grange has a virtual photography category for gardens. These two contests are separate – you do not need to win at Michigan State Grange to qualify for the National Grange contest. In fact, the National Grange entries need to be submitted online by September 1. See the following link for details: https://www.national grange.org/lecturer-contests/. You may enter the same photo in both of these contests.
The third opportunity is a bit more detailed than these first two and is a National Grange contest. It is a Garden Design Contest. This may be entered by individuals or groups, by juniors and adults. The categories are raised bed garden, container garden, and ground space. Entries must include a written description that includes: 1) Name of gardener, Group and Division (ex. Individual Adult: Container) Grange name, number and location, contact information including mailing address, email address, and phone number. 2) Purpose of the Garden: examples include purposes such as: herbs, produce for fresh use, produce for preserving, gifting, cut flowers, pollinators, etc.) 3) List of all plant varieties in the garden: (ex. Early Girl Tomato, Malabar Spinach, 4) Three photographs: one at the completion of planting, one mid-season and one in late August. These entries must be submitted as an electronic pdf file by September 1. I would like to see multiple entries in this contest from Michigan.
The fourth opportunity is to enter one of the Michigan State Grange Agriculture contests: vegetables and flowers. This includes potatoes, winter squash, sunflower head, plant in unique container, blooms of flowers. See the Program Book for details.
The fifth opportunity is to use the produce from your vegetable gardens to enter one of the Michigan State Grange Home Made Food Contests. To tie this together with the gardens, I found the following Bread & Butter Pickles recipe in the 1955 Home Grange Cookbook that was submitted by my grandmother, Emilie Robinson.
8 qts. cucumbers sliced
4 green peppers sliced
12 onions sliced​
½ cup salt​
2 qts. vinegar
​​​​8 cups sugar
​1 tablespoon whole cloves
​½ cup mustard seed
​2 tablespoons tumeric
Combine cucumbers, peppers and onions. Sprinkle with salt and let stand 3 hours. Bring to a boil the vinegar, sugar, cloves, mustard seed and turmeric. Add well-drained cucumber mixture and bring to a boil. Pack in cans to seal while hot.
For those that may be new to gardening, I found a great web site that you can type in your zip code and find out what plant hardiness zone you are in. The map shows that there are at least five different zones in Michigan. Also included is a planting calendar for your zone and other helpful information. The website link is garden.org/nga/zipzone/.

​Happy Gardening! I can’t wait to see the results.