September 28th, 2018
27 Issue 19
Issue of The Wood
Connections with the Past.
Aroostook County Potato
Harvest, near Caribou, Maine. Circa 1940.
wonderful photo of a potato harvest from Maine’s past by talented
photographer Jack Delano.
For several days last week, the work of this year’s Wood Prairie potato
harvest was captured by accomplished professional photographer Andrew
Liechtenstein. Andrew has already had two books
published. His prize winning Never
contains stories about
American soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice serving in
Iraq. A more recent work is Marked,
Unmarked, Remembered: A Geography of American Memory
which presents photographs from significant sites in United States
history. Andrew is a deeply committed individual who has his
eyes open and plies his skill as a photographer to create a
transformational impact on his audience.
Andrew is now in the early stages of his next big project: a
series of portraits of Americans fighting back against repression and
corporate greed. One rainy day he interviewed Jim
and spent the rest of his time photographing us as we progressed
through yet another Maine potato harvest.
We have a good crop
and we’re making steady progress getting it dug. All we need
is more dry weather.
Megan Gerritsen & Family
Wood Prairie Family Farm
Fair Public Policy Teach-In.
Holding the Feds culpable for
liquidation of family farmers.
| Video: Jim Gerritsen
Speaks at MOFGA’s Common Ground Fair “Public Policy Teach-In.”
Saturday we took a day off from digging potatoes and drove the 185
miles down to Unity to attend MOFGA’s famous Common Ground Country
Fair. Jim had been asked to serve as one of the speakers on
the Fair’s Teach-In panel in the afternoon. The
Teach-In event has been recorded on video (59:50). Jim’s
portion begins at Minute 42:16.
Agriculture is being
widely looked upon as one of the potential bright spots for future
growth in the Maine economy. Collaborative work is being
performed by agricultural leaders in Maine seeking to develop a strong,
working platform for the new Governor and Legislature to be elected on
For his part, Jim took square
aim at the disastrous collateral damage from the Federal ‘Cheap Food
Policy’ which began with the Farm Bill of 1952. Relentless
institutional bias on the part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA) - favoring consolidation and catering to Industrial Ag - has
resulted in a tragic liquidation of family farmers and the steady
growth of corporate factory farms.
With our current
farm crisis, that liquidation of family farmers is now picking up
steam. Hear Jim explain.
Organic Caribe' Certified Seed Potatoes.
If you have never tried growing the potato variety, Organic
, we strongly encourage you to give it a
try. We have grown Organic Caribe’ for thirty years and have
found it to be a beautiful, reliable, hard-working potato. It
tastes great and is a good keeper. Organic Caribe’
is the only
we have ever advised “Should be
planted in every garden.”
See for yourself! Earn a FREE 1 Lb. Sack of Organic Caribe’
Certified Seed Potatoes
(Value $11.95) when your next
order totals $39 or more. FREE Organic Caribe’ Certified Seed
ends 11:59 PM on Monday October
1. Please use Promo
. Your order and FREE Sack of Organic Caribe’ Certified
must ship by May 5, 2019. Offer may not be
combined with other offers. Please order TODAY!
Here for Our Organic Wood Prairie Certified Maine Seed Potatoes.
Caribe'. The one potato we think should be planted in
|Wood Prairie Family Farm Photos.
Harvest on Wood Prairie Family Farm. This is the first of
ten high-caliber photographs of our on-going potato harvest taken by
professional photographer Andrew Liechtenstein of New York
City. In this shot, Andrew captured how we dig the vast
majority of our crop with our tractor-drawn one-row Finnish ‘Juko Super
Midi’ potato harvester. Maddie is working on the trailing
‘Juko cart’ carefully retrieving baby potatoes which somehow slipped
through the harvester cracks.
Demonstrating How He Judges Soil Moisture. We’ve
had 2.65”of rain in September, with all but a half-inch coming since we
began digging potatoes two weeks ago. Way back we learned the
importance of protecting our soil and not working it when too
wet. Jim’s technique for judging soil moisture is to grab a
representative fistful of soil into his right hand and then squeezing
it into a compacted clump as tightly as possible, using both hands.
Then he uses his right thumb to exert pressure in order to bust apart
the clump of soil. It takes some experience to establish the
correlation between the strength of soil-clump-adhesion and moisture
content in the soil but that correlation exists. The function of
soil-thumb-pressure necessary to break open that clump tells us when
the soil has dried out sufficiently for us to safely get back to work.
Potatoes into the Night. High quality
seed potatoes must be killed when plants are still in the juvenile
stage and tubers are physiologically young. This practice
results in youthful tubers with high vigor which then translates into
the highest yields in the next generation potato crop grown from this
seed. In this photo, following a day of digging potatoes, Jim is
driving a tractor into the night making a final pass with our propane
flamer over a late variety whose time has come to be killed
down. Conventional potato farmers of all stripes in the East
use Diquat herbicide to kill their potatoes. In the West,
growers apply Sulfuric Acid to kill tops.
Pallet Box on
Juko Harvester Filling Up with Caribe Potatoes. Last
week we dug a near perfect crop of organic
Certified Seed Caribe’ potatoes: high
quality, high set (number of tubers per hill), and high
yield. Here, a 4’ x 4’x 4’ wooden pallet box – which holds
2000# of potatoes when full - is being filled on the
Juko. The burlap sling is strategically positioned
to slow the fall of tubers and protect them from bruising as the box
Topping Off a
Pallet Box of Potatoes. After finishing out a
seed lot of Caribe,’ in this shot Jim is using a remnant pallet box to
top off a four-foot storage box. As the soil picks up
moisture from our recent rains, it becomes harder to shake all the dirt
through the harvester lags. This explains the visible
accumulation of soil in the corner where that box filled.
Hole’ in the Center of a Potato Field. The
Juko Harvester requires a minimum of twelve feet clearance (the
equivalent of four-potato-rows ) to work. While usually not a
problem when beginning digging on the edge of a field, invariably we’ll
dig over to a variety just recently killed and not yet cured and ready
for harvest. When this happens, we need to ‘punch a hole’ in
the center of the field so we can move in the Juko to harvest varieties
ready to dig. For this punching-job we use our old two-row
John Deere #30 digger and ‘pick’ the potatoes by hand, in this case,
mid-season variety, Caribou Russet.
& Tom Picking Caribou Russet by Hand. Megan
Gerritsen and Tom are on the ground picking Caribous by hand and
helping ‘punch a hole’ for the Juko. Jim is switching
tractors and hooking up the green 1952 Oliver 77 tractor to the ‘green
wagon’ used to haul potatoes.
Complete and Megan Driving Wagon Out of
Field. Amy Gerritsen stands
beside her mother, Megan. On the green wagon, along with
full-time Wood Prairie Farmer Tom, are students Maddie, Nate and
Jack. In a tradition going back to just after World War II,
Aroostook County is one of the last areas in the United States where
schools still close every Fall for the three-week Potato Harvest
Break. We’re grateful to have an outstanding crew
of four students – including our Amy - helping get our crop
out this Fall.
Harvest Handstands on Wood Prairie Family
Farm. Here Amy and Jack
show off their considerable gymnastic skills. Years
ago Jack’s mother, our neighbor Allie, started up an after-school
gymnastics school business. Amy, and her older sister, Sarah became
fully involved in these classes from an early age. Now, over
200 rural kids in Aroostook County – from age three on up – are taking
Allie’s gymnastics, dance and cheering classes. The strong gymnastics
skills developed among local youth explains why our Central Aroostook
Cheering Team has won the State of Maine’s ‘Class D’ (smallest high
schools) Cheering Championship for ten out of the last eleven
years. Sarah has continued working for Allie as a coach at
the same time she attends college in Presque Isle.
Megan Heading Down to Juko. With
the Juko harvester lining up for another pass of digging potatoes, Amy
and her mother, Megan, head down the hill. Like her sister,
Sarah, before her, Amy usually works the demanding ‘hedgehog’ position
on the harvester. Round potatoes – like Caribe’
– flow well. Longer potatoes – such as Russian
Banana and Rose
Finn Apple Fingerlings and Carola
– need additional persuasion to find their right path along the
harvester. The person in the ‘hedgehog’ position can get
quite a workout.
|Wendell Berry on Solutions.
Pepper Spanish Tortilla.
1 T olive oil, plus more for serving
1 lb Yukon
potatoes, sliced 1/4" thick
1 pepper, ribs and seeds removed, thinly sliced
, halved and thinly sliced
8 large eggs
1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp hot sauce
oven to 375 degrees. In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat.
Add potatoes, pepper, and onion; season with salt and pepper. Cover,
and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are crisp-tender, 14-16
minutes. Uncover, and cook off excess liquid, about one minute.
a bowl, whisk together eggs, parsley, hot sauce, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2
tsp pepper. Pour mixture over vegetables in skillet, and gently stir to
distribute evenly. With the back of a spatula, press down on vegetables
so they lay flat and are submerged.
Bake in oven until set,
about 15 minutes. To unmold, run a rubber spatula around edge of
skillet to release tortilla; invert onto a serving plate. Drizzle with
oil. Serve hot or room temperature.
and Healthy Meal.
by Angela Wotton
|Wood Prairie Farm Quick
Caleb & Jim
& Megan Gerritsen
Prairie Family Farm
429 - 9765
Certified Organic, From Farm to Mailbox