2006-05-25 / News

Conanicut Grange News

By Charlotte Richardson

Grange members from Jamestown recently participated in a teleconference with likeminded folks from around the country, with whom they shared stories and discussed problems and items of mutual interest. The Conanicut Grange shared the spotlight in the hour-long discussion with the Left Hand Grange in Colorado.

Listening in were grange members from Oregon, Illinois, Idaho, Ohio, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.

Conanicut's discussion was led by Master Charlotte Richardson, who presented a brief history of the Grange in Jamestown, which was founded on October 29, 1889.

Also participating in the talk was Bob Sutton, a former town administrator, who told of the progress of the Jamestown Community Farm. Jessie and Joe Dutra, of the Dutra Farm and Rhody Fresh Milk's skyrocketing success in statewide markets, told about the five farms who share their views on dairy farming, participate in this super success story. Don Minto, of the Watson Farm, talked about the program in progress on the farm to raise grass-fed beef and sheep, which will be soon be available for sale at farmer's markets, around the state bearing the label Conanicut Grass Fed Meat, which just received approval by the RI Department of Health. Heather Minto, Don's wife, told us about using the wool sheared from the sheep, and the carding, spinning, and processing of it into workable wool, which she then makes into blankets called the Conanicut Blanket. Melissa Minto, director of the Teen Center, told of her travels to Nicaragua to promote agriculture in that country. She works with kids and their parents and was pleased to have received a lot of support from the granges of Rhode Island, which raised money and donated many hand tools and supplies, which were of great use in Nicaragua. Her teens are learning about agriculture, planting, and good nutrition as a part of their program.

Arek Galle represented the Conanicut Island Land Trust and told about the connection between the overall interest by Jamestowners in land preservation and conservation, highlighting the fact that if Jamestown is to remain rural and pastoral, there is great need to protect the farms and open space.

Most of us listened into the Left Hand #9 of Colorado, and learned there are vast differences in how development and water rights are honored. They told of being unable to own the water under their lands but must purchase water rights from those who have bought and own the rights to the water. How farms are quickly disappearing as development rights are switched from one place to another to allow for building hundreds of homes where farms once were.

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