Issue of The Seed Piece:
Building of Community.
Town of Bridgewater, Maine. Land
plots in 1877. Click on image to enlarge.
Pace of Progress.
Bridgewater, Maine Circa 1827.
The first settlers to what was to become the potato farming town of
Bridgewater came over from Canada, making their way up the St. John
River, then up the Presque Isle of the St. John (now called the
Prestile Stream) until they reached American soil at the northeast
corner of what the maps called Bridgewater township.
The township was created on paper in 1803 when the District
Maine was still part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
southern half of the township – 3 miles by 6 miles - was designated a
Grant by the authorities to raise funds for the Portland
Academy. Sales of land from the northern half of the township
also 3 miles by six miles - was a Grant similarly dedicated to
supporting the public Academy in Bridgewater, Massachusetts.
State of Maine gained its long desired independence from Massachusetts
including freedom from the shenanigans of the merchant class in Boston
years later in 1820. Since the new State of Maine already had
town named Portland, exercising Yankee practicality, the new township
was given its current name of Bridgewater.
Since the last Ice Age, all of all of northern Maine was uninhabited
(except for the Black Flies) primeval deep woods, absent of open
fields. It is no surprise, then, that the first newcomers tried their
hand at oxen logging and saw milling. In 1827, first pioneer
from the town of Palermo, in central Maine, struck out and arrived in
northeast corner of Bridgewater, along with his sons Joseph and John.
They built their water-powered up and down sawmill at the confluence of
the Prestile and what was later to be named the Whitney Brook. Before
long a log cabin was built and Nathanial brought the rest of his family
north. The Bradstreets cut more trees, sawed more lumber and cleared
more fields and began to farm. Farming, in time potato
became a long, enduring habit of the Bradstreet clan. To this
some of the best seed potatoes grown in the Town of Bridgewater are
those raised by our friend, Ryan Bradstreet, and his family.
The settlement at the ‘Line’ (Canadian line) near
mill grew at a slow but steady rate. The settlement sprawled
spilled westward and southward from its Canadian lifeline
origins. By the US Census of 1850, the Town of Bridgewater
lured and birthed 143 residents. By the Census of 1900,
a new railroad which could efficiently haul potatoes to Eastern
markets, for the first time ever, Bridgewater passed the thousand mark
with a farming population of 1179.
The wild lands in the western part of the township took many, many
decades to be settled. Our Wood Prairie Farm is located two
and one half
miles west of where the North Branch and the South Branch of the
Whitney Brook meet. Our farm would not be cleared and settled until
hundred years after the town's first settlers arrived. Of the 56 acres
we farm, we have cleared
over 35 acres of fields. We have shared in some measure the
experience of the thousands of Nathaniel Bradstreets and their
conversion of frontier wild lands into Maine’s Potato Empire.
here for the
Wood Prairie Farm Home Page
Megan Gerritsen & Family
TRUTHFUL Russell Libby.
by Robert Shetterly, 2012. From Robert's Americans Who Tell the Truth
Click on portrait to enlarge.
Caitlin Shetterly has just written a wonderful tribute to Russell
Libby, MOFGA’s longtime leader, in The Portland Phoenix.
Caitlin, “When trying to come up with a few words to commemorate
Russell Libby, the former executive director of Maine Organic Farmers
and Gardeners Association, who died in December at the age of 56, my
first thought was: What could I possibly offer which is not already
present in my father's stunning portrait? However, over last weekend,
as the snow fell and fell, I picked up the phone and called people who
knew Russell all over our great state of Maine.”
Congresswoman and organic farmer Chellie Pingree shared with Caitlin,
"As an economist,
farmer, and poet, Russell . . . could point to the numbers to show
positive effects smaller-scale food systems have for our economy. He
could speak from experience of the difficulties of operating a small
farm. And he could clearly illustrate the good things that happen when
we have a closer connection to the land and each other. . . . It's my
hope that this body will do well by him and take his vision to heart.
'I'm really not interested in standing over here in the local and
organic corner for the rest of my life and waving, "Hi, we're having
fun over here,"' Russell said. 'I'm really interested in this kind of
food being available to everybody under the basic principle: enough for
Read the full tribute here.
Jim Gerritsen to
Give Keynote at Law Conference.
At month’s end, Wood Prairie Farm’s Jim Gerritsen will travel to
Eugene, Oregon to deliver a Keynote address at the Public Interest
Environmental Law Conference. The PIELC is the largest
conference of its kind and is annually hosted by the University of
Oregon School of Law.
The keynote will address the ramifications of the
landmark organic community lawsuit. OSGATA et al v.
Gerritsen, President of lead Plaintiff Organic
Seed Growers and Trade Association,
will discuss the action which challenges the validity of Monsanto’s
transgenic (GE) seed patents and seeks to gain court protection for
family farmers should they through no fault of their own become
contaminated by Monsanto’s patented seed and then be perversely accused
of patent infringement.
Jim will be accompanied on the trip by his oldest son, Peter.
Click here for
information on the OSGATA et al v. Monsanto lawsuit.
Considering: Mark Twain on Fools.
“It is easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled”
Recipe: Easy Nordic
c lukewarm water
c plain yogurt
the yeast in the lukewarm water. Add the rest of the ingredients and
knead the dough by hand or using a mixer for 10-15 minutes at a slow
speed. Cover the bowl with a damp clot and leave the dough to rise for
1 hour. Gently stir the dough and then transfer to a greased baking tin
or to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover the dough with a
damp cloth and leave to rise for a further 15-20 minutes.
the bread at 375 F for approximately 30 minutes.
fruits, nuts and raisins may also be added to the bread.
Easy Nordic Bread.
variations on a theme.
Photo by Angela Wotton
Karl Hammer's Vermont Compost.
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Click here for our Wood Prairie Farm Organic Garden Vegetable Seed
Party Crashers, Caribe's Papa, Sweet Potatoes, Poison Upstream and
need to leave the farming to farmers...the ones who know their land and
know their seeds and what varieties are best for their micro-climate
and other growing conditions. Scientists need to butt out..
Alas, for generations, in a slight not unrecognized by farmers, our
'leaders' have considered farming far too important than to be left to
the farmers themselves, or to the people whom they provide good food.
Enter the 'Ag Industry', a monolithic interlocking matrix of
self-serving special interests beholden to no one but themselves.
Biotech is just one of the more recent party-crashers. The farmers and
the people come in last. I expect you noticed that.
planted your potatoes last year and they were wonderful!! I will be
placing a larger order from you this year!! I absolutely love the
Caribe' potato!! It is such a pretty potato and they were so
I will be planting a lot of these this year on our farm in Wisconsin.
Also, thank you for all you do fighting to keep our food supply safe.
We agree with you about Caribe'. It is a great
our friend Hielke De Jong was the breeder of Caribe'. He and his son
Walter (Cornell potato breeder) co-authored the recently published
Complete Book of Potatoes.' available on our website.
Jim, do you know of any organic
Sweet Potato sources?
Yes, go to our friends at Southern Exposure Seed
Sorry to hear about the recent
case dismissal. I read first about the concern in Downeast
and have been following since. There are a lot of "new technology
versus law" issues here. I brought the case up in a Facebook
discussion, and one of the posters had a point I'd not read about yet.
Perhaps it has been previously addressed, I don't know...but I thought
I'd throw it out in the event it hasn't.
invasion of patented technology into one's crops be considered
"upstream pollution" - akin to having poison dumped upstream,
subsequently spread on one's fields killing crop value?
Good luck with your fight....just
attempting to help right; and so passing along thoughts.
We are hoping a positive ruling in our OSGATA et al
will help to re-establish a desperately needed balance when it comes to
patents on seeds. Right now all the power has been grabbed by
the people are the losers.
will be heard before the US Supreme Court next week (Feb 19) with a
ruling expected about July.
Our Appeal of
Dismissal in OVM
was heard one month ago before the US Court of Appeals
for the Federal Circuit in Washington, DC. We expect to get our ruling
1-3 months from now. We are hopeful we farmers will win our Appeal and
gain standing so the case will be allowed to go forward.
We believe that right now, should farmers seek to
damages as a result of Monsanto's trespass and contamination to our
crops - perhaps equivalent to your 'upstream pollution' concept - that
perversely, Monsanto would counter sue us claiming that we illegally
are in 'possession' of their patented technology.
Our lawyers asked Monsanto for a binding legal covenant
not-to-sue should - through no fault of our own - we become
contaminated by Monsanto's patent seed. We interpret that Monsanto's
refusal to honor our request is because they want to maintain their
option to pursue us for patent infringement. This situation is grossly
unjust and unacceptable and this is why we are continuing to pursue our