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Bellview Grange offers monthly community market

As part of a revitalization that will embrace more arts, commerce and entertainment, the Bellview Grange is hosting a community market every month that offers a range of affordable art, books, produce and the sort of goods you might find at a quality yard sale.

Historically, the grange was a collective to help farmers, but with the decline of family farming, it’s had to find a new mission as a community hall for entertainment, plays, speeches, activist groups and now, a bazaar for sellers who want to take their best stuff to a central, well-attended spot.

The sale is the first Saturday of the month. It offers some 15 tables inside the Grange’s large front room and 20-plus outside at $10 per spot (outside spots are bigger). It’s a better alternative for crafters who don’t have a shop or people who don’t want the hassle of putting on a yard sale — or whose houses may be out of the way, says Catie Faryl of the Bellview Grange.

“I love it,” says vendor Candy Boerwinkle. “It’s a great community get-together and opportunity to share what I have so I can raise money for a trip to Europe.”

Vendor Janie Fichter says she has created a line of botanical perfumes under the name of Essence Poetica and wants to get them out to the public but feels it’s not practical to get a shop now.

“This is great because it offers more opportunity for artisans, people who sell things to the broader community — and the staff here works really hard. I’ve made several posts on social media to entice friends to come here.”

The Bellview Grange once had hundreds of members, but dwindled to seven. Now it’s jumped to 45, and members have repainted, cleaned up extensively and done finish work, leading to being named by the state organization as the most improved grange in Oregon, says Faryl.

The goal, she adds, is to become the primary affordable and spacious spot for events and gatherings — and to liven up the south end of town, so people don’t think everything has to happen around the Plaza.

Shopper Rose Hart says, “I like it. It has a lot of variety with so many different vendors. I’m a book person, can’t resist it and there are lots of good books here.”

Kathy Brandon held up a crystal wine glass, noting she got it for a dime. “You can be more picky here because people bring better stuff, not the things they’re unable to sell at a garage sale. You can find treasure. It’s fun to stop and talk to vendors. They’re more open to that than at yard sales, plus it’s nice to be warm inside.”

The grange is getting interest from organic farmers and those who have moved recently to Southern Oregon to raise non-GMO crops without fear of pollution from genetically modified crops, says Faryl.

The grange recently passed resolutions to support labeling of GMO products, protection of seeds and health care for all children; oppose eminent domain use by corporations; end neonicotinoid (insecticide) use by the public; and pass a moratorium on pipelines with divestment from fossil fuels.

Grange Vice President Wendell Fitzgerald says the mission of the grange abides — bringing the community together in ways that help everyone — but “the older generation has passed or gone away. Some of the old ones have come back.”

The grange started in the South after the Civil War to help farmers find labor when slavery ended, Fitzgerald said. “It became a mainstay for agriculture across the nation, but in time, the culture changed and it was no longer (primarily) serving farming folks.”

— John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

(June 23: Story updated to add that there are additional vendor spaces outside.)