The National Grange or the National Order of the Patrons of Husbandry, founded in 1866 by Oliver Hudson Kelly, has a rich history in building opportunity and bringing equality for farm and rural communities. It grew out of agricultural discontent in the Middle West that focused on efforts to battle railroads and grain elevators. Since its inception this fraternal society has worked toward the educational, social, and economic betterment of agricultural people, as well as for the welfare of all. The National Grange has had significant influence on local, state, and national legislature, which lead to the passing of the Granger Laws, as well as the first state and national control of all public utilities. It is a family organization and brings together men and women of all ages. It was the first American association of any kind to work for equality and justice for women, and the first to admit women with full membership equal to that of a man. There are five levels of Granges: National, State, Pomona, Subordinate, and Junior. They all follow the organization, rituals, and programs set forth by the National Grange.
The Chico Grange, a subordinate of the National Grange, is known as a community service organization, with a mission to promote healthy local agriculture, environmental stewardship, and a vibrant community. Chico Grange #486 is one of the Granges established in Butte County. First known as the Shasta Union Grange #486, it was officially recognized on May 31, 1932. In 1937, a name change was made to Chico Grange #486. The Shasta Union Schoolhouse was the first meeting place of the Grange. When they had outgrown the schoolhouse, members bought the Sacramento Schoolhouse on Nord and Sacramento avenues in 1937. In 1954 the Chico Grange bought its current home, the Bidwell Schoolhouse located at the cross roads of Nord and Rodeo Avenues. The Chico Grange has provided the community with social, cultural and educational opportunities, as well as entertainment, emergency shelter, and a meeting place. There are special programs for youth, young adults and women. They have been involved in political activism and have successfully influenced both state and local policy. The Chico Grange has always been heavily involved in community service. The Women’s Committee regularly raised money for charity organizations by having pie socials, quilt raffles, dinners, and variety shows. Some of the charities include the Muscular Dystrophy Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Cancer Society, and the March of Dimes. The Relief Committee raised money to help needy families struggling from the depression. In the early 1930’s there was a great need for agricultural financial assistance, so Chico Grange members helped to organize the formation of Butte County Federal Credit Union in 1935. In the 1950’s members could purchase discounted items, such as gasoline, tires, machinery, spray materials, etc. from the Grange Business Organization.