Having trouble viewing newsletter? Find this edition of the Seed Piece here.

  https://www.woodprairie.com/images/blogicon.jpg https://www.woodprairie.com/images/youtube.png  https://www.woodprairie.com/images/instagramlogo.jpg                  

In This Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:

This edition of the Seed Piece may be found in our Wood Prairie Seed Piece Archives.

 Mild Days Ahead.

Haying Time. Houlton Maine. Circa 1944.

     This colorized black & white photo, shared by Tom Rock, depicts an earlier time when haying involved a lot of hand work. In those years virtually every Aroostook County farm grew some amount of Potatoes as a cash crop. Because many farmers still farmed with horses, they needed both Timothy Hay and Oats, which it turns out are great rotation crops for Potatoes. This farm’s Potato House is located behind that Elm tree and has had earthen banks built up against concrete walls to help moderate temperature and humidity more to a Potato’s liking.

     It may not seem like it some Springs, but our snow does eventually melt. This week’s Wood Prairie Seed Piece features a new Maine Tales entitled “Great Expectations” and tells the tale when a couple of years our snowmelt happened way too fast. Also, we have a Special Limited Time Offer for a FREE 1# Sack of Wood Prairie Organic Maine Certified Elba Seed Potatoes, one of our real Bomb-Proof workhorse Potato varieties. Plus a tasty Recipe from Megan for Buttery Potato Gnocchi and a Notable Quote from Friedrich Nietzsche on Perception.

     We have been farming organically here on our Maine farm for almost 50 years. We know Organic inside and out, and we have ALWAYS been 100% Organic. Look to us for ALL your Organic needs, for goods like Organic Seed Potatoes, Organic Sweet Potato Slips, Organic Vegetable Seed, Organic Herb Seed, Organic Flower Seed, Organic Cover Crop Seed, Organic Fertilizer, and Tools and Supplies.

     Thanks very much for your loyalty and support of our Family Farm! 


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



Special Offer! FREE Organic Seed Potatoes!

Organic Certified
Keuka Gold Seed Potatoes.

  Easy-to-Grow Yukon-Gold-Type
with Good Taste
Organic Certified
French Charlotte Seed Potatoes.

  Top European Variety.
Spectacular in the Kitchen.
Organic Certified
Elba Seed Potatoes.

  Savory Baker and Troublefree
High Producer in the Field.

Place a New Order and Receive a FREE 1 lb. Sack of Organic Maine Certified Elba Seed Potatoes ($14.99 Value) with a Minimum $65 Order. FREE Elba must ship with order and no later than 5/15/23.

Please use Coupon Code WPFF244.


Maine Tales. Great Expectations.
        Perth-Andover, New Bunswick, Canada. Circa 1987.

Hopper Rail Cars on Railroad Bridge.  Each Hopper Rail Car holds well over 100 tons of a dense material like gravel, somewhat less for wood chips or grain. A single Covered Hopper Rail Car that was carrying Wheat would hold enough to grain make 258,000 loaves of bread, according to Union Pacific Railroad.

     There are heroes. And then there are those among us who aim to be heroes should circumstances go their way.

The Mighty St. John

     In its own way, locally as prominent and iconic as Katahdin, the mighty St. John River, known by the Maliseets as “Wolastoq,” runs 418 miles in length, emptying into the Atlantic Ocean’s Bay of Fundy. For eighty miles the St. John forms the International border between Maine and Canada. Virtually all of Aroostook County, Maine lies within the St. John watershed which amounts to 21,000 square miles, one of the largest watersheds on the East Coast. Slightly over one-third of the St. John watershed happens to be in the State of Maine. So, if a snowflake or raindrop falls anywhere in Aroostook it will eventually make its way into the Atlantic courtesy of the St. John River.

     At our farm’s latitude the International boundary lies to the west of the St John as the river begins to flow towards the southeast. The St. John then remains entirely inside Canada until it flows into the Bay of Fundy. For thousands of years, the St. John and its tributaries have served as primary travel routes for its human inhabitants.

     Early European settlers, both the Acadian French and the English/Scotch/Irish, used the navigable St. John, and its tributaries including the Aroostook River, as the primary means to extend their settlements into the roadless forested wilderness. As the new settlers spread into the St. John’s upper reaches, in short order trees began to be cut down, stumps pulled and the new fields planted to Potatoes on both sides of the border.

North Country Ice Jams

     Now of course, the phenomenon of flooding is well known most everywhere, and our St. John River is no exception. Flood records, in fact, have been kept for the lower basin of the St. John River ever since 1696. It is noteworthy that in the Upper and Middle reaches of the St John River, in addition to those common components usually behind flooding – excessive rainfall and snow melt – is a powerful additional complicating element known in the north country as “ice jams.”

     This time of year during Spring, rapid snowmelt waters snake their way into the St. John and power along huge floating chunks of ice, often each the size of automobiles. Packed shoulder-to-shoulder from shore to shore, the ice blocks grind against one another as they steadily make their way en masse down stream powered by high water.

     River obstructions such as river narrows, islands or bridge abutments can quickly form massively problematic ice jams should the ice begin to pile up and in doing so obstruct the free flow of river water. Most years the annual ice flow makes its way down river with minimal harm. The occasional momentary ice jam normally quickly corrects itself, forced on downstream by the colossal weight of ice upstream pushing Atlantic-bound.

Record Floods

     However, under certain conditions, severe ice jams may form quickly and cause extensive flooding and sometimes massive destruction. On April 1, 1976, a major ice jam formed on the St John River on the uphill side of the Canadian-Pacific Railroad Bridge in the town of Perth-Andover, New Brunswick, just across the line from Fort Fairfield, Maine. The ice jam caused water and ice to quickly back up. As the situation became dire, one quick-thinking official took decisive action. He ordered seventeen railroad hopper cars, idled on nearby tracks and full of thousands of tons of wood chips, to be rolled onto the CP bridge to provide additional anchoring weight against the stupendous combined forces of ice and water. His outlandish gamble worked. The reinforced bridge held until the ice jam broke up on its own. The ice then proceeded downstream allowing the backed-up flood waters to lower and flow downriver once again. That decisive steel-nerved official instantly became a local hero and a local legend.

     Eleven years and one day later, there was another massive ice jam piled up against the very same Canadian-Pacific Railroad Bridge in Perth-Andover. High water was causing extensive flooding and property damage. Nineteen hundred people endangered by the flooding St. John river required evacuation. That Winter, we’d had a deep snowpack. Moderate snow-melting rains beginning towards the end of March made for high water levels on all local rivers. The result was rapid ‘thermal decay’ of the river ice which caused the ice pack to break up and flow fast and furious with the rambunctious flood waters.

Good Plan Gone Awry

     At 6am on the morning of April 2, 1987, the river of ice quickly began to accumulate into an ice jam against the bottom chord of the CP bridge spanning the St. John River. This time, another official well-versed in the local-ice-jam-lore issued the order. Again, seventeen rail cars – this time around filled with chemical fertilizer, wood poles and wrapping paper were rushed into place on top of the CP bridge. However and unfortunately at 9am, three hours after the ice jam first formed, the metal members of the bridge finally succumbed to weary fatigue and catastrophically collapsed into the St. John River taking along with it all seventeen rail cars and their caustic contents. As an illustration of the breathtaking forces involved, one awol rail car - carried by the ice and surging water - was found nearly a mile downstream after having passed without incident under a highway bridge.

     The 1987 St. John river flood established the as yet unmatched record and was eventually designated a 500-Year event. Flood level in 1987 was measured as being a full three-feet higher than during the earlier damaging flood of 1976.

     When dealing with Mother Nature there is often no certainty. Decisions must be made, routinely in a big hurry and necessarily before the ultimate wisdom of those decisions can be determined.

     You do the best you can with the hand you are dealt. Becoming a hero is anything but a sure bet. 

Caleb, Jim & Megan


Megan's Kitchen Recipes:
Buttery Potato Gnocchi.

You can use either waxy or floury/mealy potatoes. Click here for our Potato Texture Chart. Waxy potatoes don't need an egg yolk when mixed with the flour, but mealy potatoes will.

- 2 Potatoes (about 1 lb), unpeeled (I used Elba)
- Pinch of Sea Salt
- 1 Egg Yolk (optional)
- 3/4 c Organic Whole Wheat Flour
- 2 tsp Olive Oil
- 4 T Unsalted Butter
- Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
- Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese, for garnish
- Fresh Broadleaf Sage, for garnish

1. Place the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with cold water and add a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil reduce the heat, and simmer until the potatoes are tender, 30 - 40 minutes.

2. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pan. Shake the pan gently over low heat to dry the potatoes. Let stand just until the potatoes are cool enough to handle.

3. Peel the potatoes and cut them in chunks. Pass them through a ricer or food mill. Transfer to a lightly floured surface. If using an egg yolk, make a well in the center of the potatoes and put the yolk in the well.

4. Sprinkle the potatoes with some of the flour and slowly work in. Repeat until all the flour has been added and the mixture forms a smooth, slightly sticky, dough.

5. Divide the dough into fourths, and roll each piece into a 15" long rope about 3/4" in diameter. Using a floured knife, cut each rope into thirty pieces. The gnocchi can be cooked as is; or to make decorative ridges, flour a dinner fork and roll the gnocchi under the tines.

6. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the olive oil, and then drop the gnocchi gently into the boiling water.

7. When gnocchi rise to the surface, cook 30 seconds more. Drain in a colander.

8. Melt the butter in a large skillet along with the sage and add the gnocchi. Toss gently and season with salt, pepper, and a generous grating of Parmesan cheese.



Notable Quotes: Nietzsche on Perception.


Quick Links to Popular Products.

Caleb & Jim & Megan Gerritsen
Wood Prairie Family Farm
49 Kinney Road
Bridgewater, Maine 04735
(207) 429 - 9765 / 207 (429) - 9682
Certified Organic From Farm to Mailbox