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Organic News and Commentary
From Maine
Saturday, April 4th, 2020
 Volume 29 Issue 6

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   Full Steam Ahead!


Wood Prairie Family Farm Packing Crew Last Saturday.

All seed companies are experiencing an unprecedented, huge surge of seed orders in the last month thanks to the health and economic crisis centered around Covid-19. With many seed companies experiencing order spikes 300% of normal, we’re all very grateful for your patience. We are working hard to keep up!

Last Saturday, March 28, was a sunny-day-above-freezing with snow-covered fields outside and the maple sap was running. This photo was taken inside our packing shed where we have been working overtime to keep up with your orders. That Saturday, eight Gerritsens were working together as a team.

From left to right: Lex and Caleb’s brother, Peter (they have been building houses in Portland but have now moved back to the farm to help out); Caleb and his fiancée, Lizzi (a kindergarten teacher at a local rural school, which like all schools in Northern Maine, closed three weeks ago so she is now working from home); Caleb’s sisters, Amy (a High School Junior, studying from home half-days and packing seed the rest of the time) and Sarah (one month away from graduation and becoming a Registered Nurse, after the completion of her accelerated two-year Nursing program at Northern Maine Community College).

Megan was out-of-sight working in the adjoining office preparing shipping labels. Jim was downcellar in the underground Potato House (storage) grading organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes for the crew to pack.

The next day, Sunday, co-workers Megan and Ken came in and worked with Jim to fill sacks and replenish shelves. Meanwhile, Frank and Gail have been working remotely from their homes where they answer the phones taking orders and answering questions. We rotate the crew so everyone gets one day a week off. Monday the full crew was back to work.

Just this last Thursday, Maine Governor Janet Mills codified what had already largely become a defacto practice in Maine with a statewide Stay-at-Home order (our team jointly agreed to Stay-at-Home protocols three weeks ago). Food Agriculture (including seeds) has been designated a “Critical Industry” so our co-workers are allowed to travel between home and work.

Frank and Gail report that almost 75% of folks placing phone orders are volunteering they are concerned about the stability of the food supply and so are planting a garden for the first time or expanding established gardens.

We will definitely sell out our supply of organic Seed Potatoes which we harvested last Fall and have stored in our underground on-farm storage ever since. In many cases we have limited sack sizes in order to spread out our supply to serve as many gardeners as possible. Dark Red Norland and All-Blue are two exceptions to this rule and amounts in 45-pound cartons of Certified Seed may still be ordered for the time being. At present, our supplies of organic Vegetable Seed are good and our supplies of organic Cover Crop Seed are very good. Kitchen Potatoes for eating are sold out. Turnaround time on orders is now about five days.

We are involved in the new Cooperative Gardens Commission which is gearing up to support community efforts encouraging folks to start gardens this Spring and grow their own food. Craig’s List will become the main platform CGC will use for listing locally available Resources and Needs. New articles in the New York Times and Civil Eats discuss some of the issues all of us will be facing.

We are confident we will get through the hard times ahead if we all work together and look out for one another.

Thanks again very much for your patience and for your support of our organic family farm!

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Be well and stay safe!

Caleb, Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
Wood Prairie Family Farm
Bridgewater, Maine