Good signage is important to any business located off the main highway and a sign on Old Highway 99 just north of Willows advertising “Jacinto Grange Farmer’s Lunch 3rd Tues Every Month 11 – 1:30 pm” lead me to some great food and conversation.
The Jacinto Grange Hall is northeast of Willows in the community of Bayliss on Road 39 (also known as Bayliss RD). It is located in what was Rancho Jacinto which was a 35,000 acre Mexican Land Grant given to Jacinto Rodriquez in 1844. The Rancho was later purchased by Hugh Glenn for whom Glenn County is named for. Glenn lived in the town of Jacinto that was located at intersection of Hwy 45 and Rd 39. The Grange is one of the few remaining reminders of Jacinto which was once the busiest river town on the upper Sacramento River
I arrived at Grange Hall on the 3rd Tuesday of April to find a group of volunteers preparing a lunch of Tri Tip or Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Tamale Pie, salads and dessert. The one thing I noticed that was missing was a rice salad, as there is no doubt this is rice country as everywhere you looked rice fields were being prepared for flooding.
Visiting with the team that prepares the lunch, they told me that they prepare the lunches March through October. They deliver to the immediate areas and like all good restaurants take phone orders for carry out. Carry out was very popular that day as many of their regular customers were out working in the field. Profit from the lunches is used for scholarships and upkeep on the hall.
One of the real pleasures was meeting Mabel Torres, who is 99 years old and still active in the Grange and the community. Also it was great visiting with many of the farmers having lunch, as we always knew someone in common. The main agriculture commodities in the area are rice, almonds and dairy.
Community centers such as the Jacinto Grange are very important to rural areas as gathering places. They have card games once a month and several community dinners each year. But they don’t rely completely on signs, their Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/JacintoGrange/?fref=ts.
So if you are in the area on May 16, stop in for lunch. The menu is Barbecued Chicken and Tri Tip. They also assured me they would have a rice salad.