Time. Megan milking Elsie the Irish Dexter cow.
January 27, 2010
Prairie Farm Seed Piece Newsletter
Modern Marvels, one of the History Channel's popular documentary
programs, will be debuting its Potato
January 28 at 8pm in all time zones (re-airs at 12 midnight).
The Modern Marvels format provides a thorough and interesting
insider's look at a given subject, in this case Potatoes. One
the producers has family ties to Maine and the History Channel
film crew came to Maine and Wood Prairie Farm not long ago to record
Modern Marvels Potato promises to be an enjoyable experience for anyone
who loves potatoes and wants to learn more about the crop that changed
history. See The
Potato: How the Humble Spud Rescued the Western World
Tales. Living a Lie.
Township D Range 2
If you think way back to your days in school, no
of your early History lessons was that of the New England Town system
and the local Town government which is part and parcel.
Town Meetings, Board of Selectmen, Dry Towns and Blue Laws (Day of
Common Rest.). The truest form of democracy I recall being
You may be relieved to know that those school
weren't wasted. The New England Town system is alive and
Here in northern Maine most townships were six mile by six mile squares
of land, 23,040 acres, sliced out of the woods nearly 200 years ago
when Maine was still part of Massachusetts and
written down onto some District of Maine surveyor's map. Of
this was years before white men would come to northern Maine and
conclude “Yes sir, get rid o' them trees and
this'll be a
pretty good spot to grow potatoes.” So back then it
anybody's guess which township would grow people and get a name and
which would just continue to grow trees and lay low with an
administrative designation. Bridgewater (Pop. 612) became a
potato town and while it has had its ups and downs, as any farm town
does, it is mostly holding course.
On the other hand, here in the State of Maine we've got a
number of townships that have stubbornly never had enough residents to
nudge it to organize into a Town replete with the local Town government
control. These uninhabited or poorly inhabited townships are known as
the Unorganized Territory and the North Maine Woods is chock full of
them. Historically, these townships have been mostly owned by the big
paper companies. Taxes are paid directly to Augusta, and rules, mostly
few in number, are returned directly from Augusta for that
Though the Unorganized Territory comprises maybe half the land area of
Maine, there are just over 5000 residents in all the UT of
Our family of six lives in one such Unorganized township on
edge of the Maine Woods. In fact, our family comprises
75% of the population of this nearly 36 square mile township
those not real steady at math that means our township has eight
residents). We are known as Township D Range 2, or
R2 WELS Aroostook. You see it's this way, the Ranges are
north-south grids of
townships. Hereabouts they run east to west beginning at
eastern border with Canada. So we are D Township in the second Range
West of the Eastern Line of the State (WELS) in Aroostook County,
Maine. We own and farm both sides of the Townline road, known as Kinney
Road, which divides TD R2 from the town of Bridgewater.
our home and farm buildings are all in TD R2 the infallible State of
Maine has decreed that this is where we reside.
I don't really know what kind of
us say “We're from Bridgewater” when in fact we're
Bridgewater wannabes, dull folk from that woods township next
door. Drawn like moths to the bright lights of bustling
Bridgewater, we're living a lie, hoping no one notices our deceit. Most
especially no one from Augusta where our precious unorganized status
means steady employment in the bureaucracy for a young rooster with a
stiff collar shirt out to change the world and with plenty of time on
Next Time: Population Explosion
Birdseye View of TDR2.
Wood Prairie Farm in the foreground.
TDR2 in the background. Number Nine Mtn at upper
here for our Wood Prairie
Alert! URGENT! Stop GMO Alfalfa today!
On Dec 14, 2009 the
its draft Environmental Impact Statement on GMO Roundup Ready Alfalfa,
grudingly forced by lawsuit and the courts to carry out this legal
requirement. The USDA draft EIS is an outrageous snow job
negates any environmental or economic impact caused by GMO
alfalfa. The draft EIS clearly backs Monsanto and works
the best interests of the public and organic and non-GMO conventional
farmers by completely deregulating GMO alfalfa and allowing its
unlimited planting nationwide. Alfalfa is the United States
fourth most widely grown farm crop and it is a critical feed for
livestock including organic dairy cattle. Because alfalfa is
insect pollinated it will become impossible to prevent alfalfa seed
contamination by GMO pollen, thereby resulting within a few years in
the GMO contamination of all alfalfa fields, organic or
otherwise. The USDA must be stopped from this GMO-precedent
establishing whitewash and we must protect the consumer's right to
Written comments are urgently needed that counter the USDA draft
you write only one letter this year to help protect our planet and
children from a Monsanto-GMO future, this is it!
Please do it today! Comment deadline Feb 16, 2010. Thanks! Jim
here to get background on the GMO Alfalfa issue. http://www.non-gmoreport.com/ArchivesTwo/org&nongmo_feb10.pdf
here to learn specific talking points and where to address your letter http://www.seedalliance.org/Advocacy/alfalfa-alert/
T extra-virgin olive oil
T extra-virgin olive oil
cloves garlic, thinly sliced
medium, waxy potatoes (such as Caribe),
cooked and thinly sliced into rounds
c heavy cream
tsp fresh thyme leaves
and freshly ground pepper
oven to 425 degrees.
Make the dough and let it rise for one hour or as per your directions.
Dust a baking sheet with semolina flour or cornmeal. Roll out the dough
to 18X20 inch rectangle and fit on baking sheet.
Brush the dough with 1 T of the olive oil, then sprinkle it with the
garlic slices. Cover it with the potato slices, then drizzle those with
the remaining olive oil and the cream. Sprinkle with the fresh thyme
leaves, crushing them as you sprinkle. Season liberally with pepper and
lightly with salt.
Bake until the dough is golden at the edges and the cream is bubbling
gently, about 35 minutes.
from from Epicurious.com
More recipes on Wood Prairie's
Facebook, including Roasted Parsnips
Pizza . Photo by Angie Wotton Hines
New OMRI Listed Poultry
Fertilizer yours FREE.
a FREE 3 lbs bag of our NEW! Wood Prairie Farm Organic Nutra-wave
($9.95 value) when you purchase $40 or more of our Organic Seed Potatoes
Please use Promo Code XXXXX.
Order must ship by 5/7/10. Offer expires Groundhogs Day,
Tuesday 2/2/10. Fertilizer Offer cannot be combined with
and Answer. Small Scale Local Grain Growing
from New Mexico!!!
I congratulate you for the excellence of your work... if you were
closer I would stop in for coffee.
I am interested in some of the grains you have
your catalog and would like some more information. Because we
intend to save seed we want non-gmo, non-hybrid, open-pollinated
grains. I am interested in your hard red spring wheat, your
(are the hull-less the same as the other oats?), the winter rye and the
spelt. Do these grains meet our needs?
Our farmland is irrigated from the Rio Grande
ancient system of acequias (ditches) and we are allowed up to 3.2
acre/feet per growing season so moisture is not a problem.
irrigation season lasts from April 1 to Oct. 31.
We try to obtain contracts from end-product users
ensure profitability. As an example a local pasta maker has offered to
contract with us for growing durum wheat.
I would appreciate any information you can
provide for me.
We know something
about raising organic grain in the north and your conditions
approach the other end of the spectrum so I'm sure you'll take that
into account. And I expect you have researched historical
production in your area and talked to locals - I find that those are
valuable sources. That said here is what I can tell you.
is a hard red spring bread wheat, the earliest that we are aware
of. It was
bred in the upper plains and we originally got seed from
It does well here (which is not the same as perfect but this is the wet
East) and makes good bread wheat in our conditions giving us about 13%
protein. It is beardless.
(untyped) and about 98% free of hulls which allows us to clean and
simply roll them for rolled oats. Conventional oats have a
them and folks normally use a (expensive) scalper to seperate the grain
from the hull. For our scale we prefer the hull-less
is also common and
makes a good rye flour for our
bread mixes. The biggest demand for rye is as
a winter cover crop and
for that purpose it is excellent. Rye like its
relative wheat is
"hull-less" by nature and can be milled after cleaning.
used to grow spelt
(planted in late summer for harvest the
July) but after three years of beginner's luck we
winterkill and gave up. We now buy organic spelt from farmer
where the winters are more mild. The hulls adhere tight to
are voluminous (from 100 lbs of harvested spelt figure 65 lbs grain and
35 lbs hulls). The grain is excellent however, and worth the
farmer modified an old Allis Chalmers grain combine and converted it
into a homemade spelt de-hulling machine, just to throw out one idea.
successfully grown here 100 years ago but production largely shifted
west until some of us started experimenting with it in the last 15-20
years. As my friend wheat breeder Steve Jones says:
growing wheat is simple, harvest and handling is not. I think
true of the other grains as well. A good market that
production will go a long ways towards competing against the large
scale industrial grain system that ag has developed. Gook luck.
& Megan Gerritsen
49 Kinney Road
Bridgewater, Maine 04735
(800)829-9765 Certified Organic, Direct from the Farm
Wood Prairie Farm on Facebook