The Sonoma Valley Grange is the go-to place for connecting with the agricultural community and learning about healthy food and farming. The host of pancake breakfasts and seasonal dinners and home to flea markets and cookie exchanges, it is a long-time organization that is finding a new direction in a community concerned with sustainability and farm-to-table food sources.
“Sonoma is not all just grapes,” said Grange President Michael Acker, explaining that there is more small farming going on in the Valley than the acres of vineyards would lead one to believe. He said the Grange serves as a community center and is “a neighborhood service focused on food and agriculture.” Acker, an artist, designed the mural that was painted on the exterior of the building in 2010, making it an eye-catching sight on Highway 12.
The national Grange was founded just after the Civil War to promote the economic well being of the agricultural community, and the movement quickly spread with local Granges opening across the country. The local Grange started in Sonoma in 1924, and its headquarters building in The Springs was purchased from the Rosenthal Resort that year.
Besides Grange events, the building is available to rent and is used several times a month for anniversaries, quinceaneras, wedding receptions and meetings. There is currently a fundraising campaign underway to renovate the aging facility. “The building is central to everything we do,” Acker said “and maintaining it is our primary responsibility.”
The plumbing and wiring and restrooms need to be brought up to code, a new roof and flooring will be installed, and the kitchen will be completely rebuilt, with new appliances, cooking utensils and tables and chairs. The budget is $250,000, and a $100,00 donation has already been made by Mac and Leslie MacQuown, owners of Stone Edge Farm, to go toward the kitchen remodeling. Stone Edge is an organic winery and also provides organically grown vegetables to local restaurants.