Working Before The Rain. The
photo above is a frame taken from the short You
Tube video (0:24)
of Caleb, our son, running Rock Picker ahead of our potato planter last
Sunday. Sunday was the last day we got any planting done
it’s been raining everyday ever since. The weather forecast
expects this stubborn rainy pattern to be with us daily through
Memorial Day. As farmers, rain or shine we never are wanting
lack of work. While we do look forward to getting back to
planting, we’ve seen wet Springs before. Once the rain has
itself out, we’ll get back to our work of getting our crop
planted. As we say in Maine, “there’s plenty of time yet.”
Caleb was born in late June,
so that meant
he missed planting that first crop back in 1994. He was with
for ‘Digging’ (‘Harvest’ in Aroostook County) that Fall, though. Ever
since that first year Caleb hasn’t missed one planting or
here to see a National Geographic photo of Caleb and his first Fall
Megan Gerritsen & Family
Potato Planting in
Maine - An Epic Poem by Wilmont Ashby.
Fort Fairfield, Maine 1910.
the broad fertile fields of Aroostook
The goddess of spring waves her wand’
The reign of Old Winter is over,
Each farmer is tilling his land.
The planters’ are clicking and rattling,
The horses are not feeling gay
For the Granger is urging them onward
From dawn to the close of the day.
Oh, Aroostook, the land of potatoes
Will nothing else grow on thy soil?
Is there nothing but starch and the tuber
To reward erring man for his toil?
Must we hurry from springtime till autumn?
Must we slave through the short winters day?
Buy our flour, meat, butter, and cereals,
Our horses, our eggs and our hay?
Each year we pay hundreds of thousands
To the phosphate trust in our land,
Much more for machinery and horses
‘Most of all bought with notes “on demand.”
We’re imposed on by all hired labor,
Easy marks for the tramp and the bum,
Make slaves of our wives and our children
For potatoes once planted must come.
Some years we have slathers of money
Some years, like the present, we’ve none.
We’1l ruin our farms in the meantime
‘Ere this craze for the dollar is done.
The horsemen are reaping a fortune
While phosphate agents the smile,
As they give us a pat on the shoulder
Saying “Go it, old boy, that’s the style.”
Aroostook! Our Northland of plenty;
‘Twould supply all New England today.
Should we raise wheat and horses and cattle
Sheep, grass seed, oats, butter and hay?
For all these things thrive and flourish
Up here in the garden of Maine
We can out-do the western prairies
Raising livestock, and poultry, and grain.
But “pertators, pertators, pertators,”
Is the soul-stirring cry that we hear.
Beginning on bright New Year’s morning
It lasts till the close of the year.
It’s hustle, and get there, and hurry,
With the wives, and the children, and men,
Hardly time for a wedding or funeral;
No time for the parson’s “Amen.”
morning I called on a neighbor,
He was bopping and hopping around
Like a hen that had just been beheaded,
Or a top that was spun on the ground.
Surrounded by baskets and barrels
Were the cripples he had for a crew,
Each cutting and slashing and growling
While a shower of potato seeds flew.
“Good mornin’, good taters, good mornin’.
I’m, trying to cut seed today
But I’m heving a derned lot of trouble,
For everything’ right in the way;
You see that we’re just getting started;
The planters are goin’ full speed
And I’m afraid they’ll be out of pertators
Before we can cut some more seed.
“What’t that, wife, we’re all out of butter?
Git along with molasses today.
A team goes to town in the morning
To git us some oats and baled hay.
Come, Mattie, stop strummin’ that pianner,
Come, Teddy, and Bill, get a knife;
Let’s go fer that ben of pertators,
And cut all day long for dear life.
“See! Mattie with gloves on By thunder!
It’s enough for ter make a saint weep.
Say! Where is that dratted lame Frenchman?
In the haymow, I’ll bet, fast asleep.
Roaring Bootfeet! We’ve all, got to hurry,
For here comes ole Ben for a load--
Great Scott! Now I’ll bet a pertator
That that’s our hog there in the road.
“Say wife! Can’t you drive that pig in
And give him a tunk on the snoot?
I bet hogs won’t bother us next year--
Thar! He’s gone through the fence, the dern brute.
Creation! Helen Blazes! Carrie Nation!
Don’t I wish that I was a big dog;
I would eat the hams off that porker,
I’d kill him as dead as a log.
“Say, Ben, tell them fellers ter hurry
We must plant twelve big acres to-day,
For a team’s got to waste half ter-morrer
In goin’ to town ter git hay.
What! Sunday! Ter-morrer ain’t Sunday?
I’m so mad I could eat a dog raw.
I’ll tell ye, we’ll all cut pertators
And feed the blamed hosses some straw.
chin me about the ole hosses,
Don’t tell me they mustn’t eat straw.
They’re coming each day by the carload
And when they play out, I’ll buy more.
Sol Smith’s goin’ to plant fifty acres--
I don’t wish that Bluenose no harm
But I’ll plant more pertators than he does
If I bust. every hoss on the farm.
“Say boys! Lets plow up the ole pasture
And hitch them steers out by the neck.
It will raise us a clean thousand barrels
If it raises a pound or a peck.
Don’t you see that seed taters are plenty
And the market’s agoin’ to be grand.
Them apple trees ought to be yanked out;
Big murphys would grow on the land.”
So is goes like this all though the County,
We were never so “bughouse” before.
Last year we raised ten million bushels,
This year we shall try to raise more.
We have beaten the record of Ireland,
What shall we beat next, who can tell?
We’ll now try a race with the Germans
If we run the whole country to--well!
The planters are clicking and rattling,
We must plant by the light of the moon,
For times flies away like a whirlwind
But we’ll plant till the middle of June.
Then we'll hoe and we’ll spray, and we’ll poison
No let-up for picnics or rain.
In August we’ll get out the diggers
And dig till the snow flies again
Potato Planting on Wood Prairie Farm.
Sarah (l.) and Amy Gerritsen cutting
seed potatoes on the back of our Tuber
GMO Labeling Law in
Maine Closer to Reality.
Momentum is building nationwide for
transparency in GMO food labeling. The State of Maine is moving forward with LD 718,
the strong GMO Label bill which many believe has the potential to soon
become the nation’s first GMO Label law.
Last Tuesday, May 21, courageous members of the
Joint Standing Committee of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
stealth amendment secretly inserted into the bill
at the last minute by ‘Infant Formula’ manufacturers. Had the
secret amendment not been removed, it would have created a giant
exemption loophole which would have gutted the bill.
In a dramatic show of solidarity, ten members of the
thirteen-member ACF Committee,
including both Co-Chairs, Senator Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) and
Representive Jim Dill (D-Old Town), threw their support behind the
concept of GMO Labeling for Maine. The ACF Committee has
out final language for LD 718 and has sent the bill to the
a floor debate and vote. After that, LD 718 will proceed to
Senate. Legislative votes are expected within the next two
Maine Rep Joshua Plante (D-Berwick)
wrote an opinion piece in support of LD
718 in the Portland Press Herald
and was immediately attacked by two commenters. Jim Gerritsen
Prairie Farm came to Rep Plante’s defense and submitted the following
We are potato farmers in Aroostook County and I
folks that, in fact, six varieties of Monsanto's GE potatoes - "New
Leaf Potatoes" - were commercialized and supplied unlabeled to the
American market for five or six years beginning in the mid-1990s.
Monsanto’s New Leaf transgenic Bt potatoes had the Bt gene gene-spliced
so that every cell of the potato - including the edible portion -
expressed this bacterial toxin. It is a fact that the Maine Board of
Pesticide Control required Monsanto to register their New Leaf potatoes
themselves as a
pesticide. No wonder Monsanto didn't want consumers to
know the truth.
The GE potatoes were eventually withdrawn from the
by Monsanto after pressure was placed on french fry manufacturers by
McDonalds to cease using New Leaf potatoes in making french fries. As
scientist Sally Fox explains, transgenic Bt is NOT the same as the
foliar applied Bt used by organic farmers: "I ran the first greenhouse
trial of an engineered Bt toxin for a small biotech company in the
80's. The greenhouse was sealed, the microbes killed to prevent any
chance of escape into the wild. The toxin and it's activity lasted over
2 weeks. The normal crystal prototoxin, remains effective for maybe 24
hrs. If the EPA hadn't ruled it to be 'the same' as the crystal
protoxin real toxicology work would have been required of any
applicant. Studies on how or if it biodegrades, LD 50's on target and
non target species..... were all bypassed by claiming it was a
biological insecticide, when it was not. These protein toxins are
nothing to joke about and the business people who overrode the
scientists should be prosecuted for crimes against nature and humanity.
They knew they were introducing a new protein toxin and to save money
did not test it properly... The natural protoxin produced by the Bt
bacteria is formed into a crystal structure that requires a pH of
something over 10 to dissolve into toxin that is then available for
action. The engineered toxins are truncated and available immediately,
not only in the highly alkaline gut of an insect. It was insanity to
release these and claim that they were the same as what the bacteria
produces. Not insane actually, criminal, to be precise."
Additional information about the toxicity of
is contained in this recent article entitled "Bt
Toxins Are Toxic to
the Blood of Mice.”
Maine Official Motto: "Dirigo" (I lead). Maine is working
hard to once again earn our state motto.
Potatoes Here. Of
course, we would never sell - and have never sold - any Monsanto seed.
The fact is Monsanto's GE Bt potatoes where chased from the market
10-12 years ago. Good riddence.
Research Shows Genetically-Engineered Pesticide Plant Toxins Are In
Fact Harmful to Mammals.
This recent study represents a reversal of two
worth of Biotech propaganda and misinformation. Transgenic Bt is NOT
safe. "The study shows that the Bt toxins Cry1Aa, Cry1Ab, Cry1Ac, or
Cry2A have toxic effects in the blood of mice. The methodology is not
clearly described but what is clear is that the presumed nontoxicity of Bt
toxin to mammals, on which all regulatory approvals of Bt crops are
based, is false.
In insects, Bt toxins exercise their toxic effects by breaking holes in
the gut and rupturing the cells. In the mice in this experiment, Bt
toxins caused red blood cells to rupture." Read more here. Quebec research reported two
indicated similar Bt toxins to be present in the blood of 93% of
pregnant women and their fetuses. These two studies prove both the
presence of transgenic Bt in humans and now the transgenic Bt's
toxicity to mammals. This is a major development. Click here
for our Wood Prairie Farm Organic Seed Potatoes.
“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the
rest of the world” -
John Muir, Scottish survivor of
the Irish Potato Famine. Legendary American
preservationist and out-of-the-box thinker ahead of his time.
Maple Nut Squares. Photo
by Angela Wotton.
oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment,
letting it extend up the sides.
a large bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar and salt until
blended. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the
dry ingredients until the mixture forms large coarse crumbs. Press the
crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake the crust until
the edges are lightly browned and the top feels firm when lightly
touched, 12-17 minutes. Set aside.
make the filling, combine the butter, maple syrup, and brown
sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and stir
together until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Bring to a
boil and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and immediately stir in
the cream. Stir in pecans and pour hot filling over the crust,
spreading it evenly to the edges.
until filling is set when you give the pan a gentle shake, 22-25
minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to let cool until firm before cutting
into bars, about 1 1/2 hours.
Makes 25 small squares
Source: Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking
Special Offer: FREEOrganic Vegetable
We talked to one customer in Western Maine
today who wondered if there was still time to still plant
him, “yes, there’s
plenty of time yet.” Years ago, one friend up here in short season AroostookCounty
didn’t get in his mid-season
variety, Kennebec, planted until
June 23.That year
he grew and harvested a nice crop
of Kennebecs. So you bet there’s still plenty of time yet.
Fortunately, for you and us both, we
still have lots of our organic Certified seed potatoes yet availableand ready to ship.Varieties currently
available include Yukon
Sunshine.If you haven’t yet
planted your garden,we have excellent organic seed potatoes for you.Also, if you have finished
planting and find
yourself with a leftover corner patch or a leftover quarter acre, we
you. Grow yourself a good crop for your family’s needs or to sell to
neighbors in your community.
Here's your chance
to earn Four
FREE Packets of Organic Vegetable
$13.00) – Your Choice of Varieties -when your next order of organic Cerified Seed
Potatoes totals $45 or
more. Four FREE Packets of Organic Vegetable
Seed - offer
May 28, 2013, so better
Please use Promo Code WPF1146. Your
Packets of Organic Vegetable Seed
must ship by 5/31/13.
restricted to one packet per variety and may not be combined with other
Please call or click today!
German Variety Carola. High
yielding and one of the best tasting potatoes anywhere.
Our Mailbox: Saving
Tomato Seed, Fighting For Fairness, Learning From Danes.
Saving Tomato Seed. Dear WPF.
Nature is wonderful! It is a pity that some
like Monsanto, in the name of profitability are destroying the
production of natural food. It is so frightening to know they have
taken our supply of inexpensive and endless food supply from in front
of our eyes. Most of the tomatoes have been already going through
hybridization. I planted some, I got these weird perfect hard round
tomatoes, I kept the seeds for the following year and I planted. To my
horror I got some that were even weirder, they were all very, very
hard. My relatives then brought me the original ones from the
are just like the one you have on your baskets on your Facebook wall. I
planted them again and again, they taste so nice, the texture is
amazing, like the taste from my childhood in the mountains. You can
keep planting them forever and they will never change. The plants were
loaded with tomatoes. When you walk near the plants of these native
tomatoes you can even smell the aroma of the tomatoes. I have been
sharing the seeds with my friends and people I come across and
telling them what is going on with Monsanto, and how we are going to
become the new seed protectors
Vina Del Mar, Chile
Yes, and those are tomatoes worth protecting.
Open-pollinated tomatoes are a relatively simple crop
to grow and save the seed from - in addition to eating and enjoying the
wonderful fruit. A recently published manual by our friend Dr. John
Organic Seed Grower makes saving seed easier.
As I was quoted on the back cover, "Dr. John Navazio has written the
definitive book on organic vegetable seed production. This seminal work
deserves a place in every grower's library. You can order The Organic
Seed Grower from our farm store here.
Fairness. Dear WPF.
Thanks for all you do, Jim. I so appreciate your
fighting for fairness, our food and our health.
World Wide Web
Thanks for your support. We
have been farming organically for 37 years and we first learned 25
years ago about GE crops and the extreme threat they pose to the
organic community. It's our job to fight for justice.The
paragraph of the original brief in our OSGATA et al v. Monsanto
offers perspective: "Society stands on the precipice of forever being
bound to transgenic agriculture and transgenic food. Coexistence
between transgenic seed and organic seed is impossible because
transgenic seed contaminates and eventually overcomes organic seed.
History has already shown this, as soon after transgenic seed for
canola was introduced, organic canola became virtually extinct as a
result of transgenic seed contamination. Organic corn, soybean, cotton,
sugar beet and alfalfa now face the safe fate, as transgenic seed has
been released for each of those crops, too. And transgenic seed is
being developed for many other crops, thus putting the future of all
food, and indeed all agriculture, at stake."
Learning From Danes. Dear WPF.
Spent Christmas in Copenhagen with my daughter and
family, and it is sort of interesting how easy it is to buy real food.
Amazing winter markets. I remember when you went to Denmark on the
Farmer Exchange. Talked to several vendors at the farmer's market. The
one near my daughter's house is huge and heated with waste heat from
the city public heating system.
Portland, Maine WPF Replies.
Our cosmetic grading standards
go hand in hand with our anonymous disconnected commodity marketing
superficial system assures visual uniformity and mediocre quality.
Farmers and the people benefit from the face-to-face connectedness that
you describe in Copenhagen. The rewards are the REAL standards of
quality: taste, freshness and nutrition. The Danes have much to teach
the link to our Seed Piece Newsletter article about the 35
danish dairy farmers who visited our farm back in July 2012, and another link
to the article Megan and I wrote about one of our stops in our 2011
organic farm tour of Denmark.
Wood Prairie Farm Quick
& Megan Gerritsen Wood
Prairie Farm 49
Kinney Road Bridgewater,
Maine 04735 (800)829-9765
Certified Organic, Direct from the Farm www.woodprairie.com