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.
Maine Log Drive.
The snow has been melting fast
and rivers are running high in Northern Maine.
While the last river Log Drive in Maine was in 1976,
these high water conditions are what the log drivers
would wait for. The caption to this Library of
Congress photo reads: “Woodsmen appreciate the
quality and quantity of the four meals the cooks
prepare for them every day during the drive season
Spring pulpwood drive on the Brown Company timber
holdings in Maine in 1943.” Note the visible
log-grabbing “spikes” on the boot of the man in the
This issue of the Wood
Prairie Seed Piece
features a new Maine
entitled “The Pace of Progress” about
how far we’ve come. Also, find a limited-time
Maine Certified Elba Seed Potatoes.
Plus Megan has a Recipe for Baked Parsnip Chips
and Henry David Thoreau enlightens us about what true
living is all about in a Notable Quote!
Remember, Wood Prairie
Family Farm is 100% Organic
always have been
for going on 50
years. Please rely on us for ALL
Organic needs, including Organic
Sweet Potato Slips
Cover Crop Seed
, and Tools
Thanks and enjoy this wonderful
Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
Wood Prairie Family Farm
Certified Elba Seed Potatoes!
Place a New
Order and Receive Sales
Organic Maine Certified Elba Seed Potatoes
with a Minimum $65 Order.
must ship with order and no later than 5/15/23.
use Coupon Code WPFF248.
Maine Tales. The Pace of
Bridgewater, Maine. Circa 1827.
County Soil Survey. Circa 1917. The
above displayed portion of the Soil Survey depicts the
greater part of the Township of Bridgewater in the WW
I era. The blank space to the East (right) is
Canada. The blank space to the West (left) is
the unsurveyed wildlands in the Unorganized
Territory. The main road heading north-south
through Bridgewater Center is today known as US Route
1. The arrow-straight-road headed west from
Bridgewater Center is Bootfoot Road (aka West
Road). The dashed lined line running north-south
at the end of Bootfoot is the Town line between
Bridgewater and TD R2. The westernmost
building on Bootfoot Road is Bootfoot School, up the
hill from some low ground west of North Branch.
Our long gone neighbor Earl McKinnon lived and farmed
this side of the North Branch crossing. Earl
related that in 1912, at age eight, he attended
Bootfoot School in the Winter and in the Summer rode
on the back of draft horses – holding the reins – as
they tugged our tree stumps on land we now farm.
The red ‘X’ marks our Wood
Prairie Family Farm.
would have guessed it would take a hundred years for
progress to travel six miles?
Cut from a different
cloth, among the USA, the State of Maine has been
aptly credited with a slower pace of life. Like
so many matters in the Big Sky country that is
Aroostook County, Maine, what is lacking in terms
of human population, has been made up for made with
boundless extremes. The amount of sheer
effort required to convert the primeval forest into
hundreds of thousands of acres of Potato farmland has
European-American settlers to what was to become the
Potato farming town of Bridgewater came over from
Canada, making their way up the St. John River, then
up the ‘Presque Isle of the St. John’ (now called the
“Prestile Stream”) until they reached disputed
American soil at the northeast corner of what the
maps called Bridgewater Township.
This township was created
on a paper map in 1803 when the District of Maine
was still part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The southern half of the township – 3 miles
north-south by 6 miles east-west - was designated as
an Academy Grant by Commonwealth authorities in order
to raise funds for the Portland Academy. Sales
of land from the northern half of the township – also
3 miles north-south by six miles east-west - was an
Academy Grant, similarly dedicated to supporting the
Academy in Bridgewater, Massachusetts.
later in 1820, under the “Missouri Compromise,” the
State of Maine gained Statehood, and independence
from Massachusetts and the merchant class in Boston.
Since the new State of Maine already had one town they
called ‘Portland,’ exercising Yankee practicality, it
was decided the new thirty-six square-mile township
would become “Bridgewater.”
Since melt of the
last Ice Age, thanks to extreme Winters and a
healthy resident Summer population of Black Flies,
Northern Maine existed as largely uninhabited primeval
deep woods, devoid of open fields. It should
come as no surprise then, that the first
Euro-newcomers tried their hand at logging and saw
very first in these parts, in 1827, was Nathaniel
Bradstreet from the town of Palermo, Maine. He
struck out and arrived in the northeastern corner of
Bridgewater, along with his sons Joseph and
John. They built their water-powered
up-and-down sawmill at the “Boundary,” near the
confluence of the Prestile and what was later to be
named the ‘Whitney Stream.’ Before long a log
cabin was built and Nathanial brought the rest of his
family up to the northcountry.
The Bradstreets cut
more trees, sawed more lumber and cleared more fields
and began to farm. Farming, and in time
Potato farming, became a long, enduring habit of the
Bradstreet clan. To this day some of the
best Maine Certified Seed Potatoes grown in the the
Town of Bridgewater are those raised by our friend
Ryan Bradstreet and his son, Ethan.
settlement at the ‘Boundary Line’ near Nathaniel’s
mill grew at a slow but steady rate. Using
axe and oxen, it would take one man
four-hundred-hours to clear just one acre of land.
The hunger for farmland spilled and sprawled westward
and southward from its Canadian-lifeline
origins. By the US Census of 1850, the Town of
Bridgewater had lured and birthed 143 residents.
By the Census of 1900, boasting a new railroad which
would for the first time efficiently deliver Aroostook
Potatoes to Eastern markets, farm town Bridgewater
passed the thousand-residents-mark with a bustling
population of 1179 hardworking souls.
in the western part of Bridgewater Township took
many, many more decades to be cleared and settled.
Our Wood Prairie Family Farm lies in the Unorganized
Territory, Township D, Range 2 WELS (West of Eastern
Line of State), directly adjacent to
Bridgewater. We are two miles west of where
the North Branch of Whitney Brook crosses Bootfoot
Road. Bootfoot divides the Bridgewater Academy
Grant to the north from the Portland Academy Grant
to the south.
The forestland in our
farm’s vicinity would not be cleared and settled
until the immediate pre-World War I years, nearly
one hundred years after the first settlers dug
in at the Bridgewater ‘Boundary Line.’
Of the 56 acres we farm, we
have reclaimed over 35 acres of fields which had
once been cleared and later were abandoned by
farmers and allowed to grow back into trees. We
have enjoyed the major advantage of chainsaw and
bulldozer. But our fossil-fuel-powered
effort has only increased our awe at the mighty work
performed with axes by many thousands of Nathaniel
Bradstreets and their transformation of the wild
wooded frontier into Maine’s Potato Empire.
Caleb, Jim, Megan
2 large Frost
Baked Parsnip Chips.
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Slice Parsnips a little over
1/8” thick. Drizzle with 2 Tablespoons oil or butter
and spread out on a cookie sheet.
Season with sea salt or garlic salt and freshly ground black
pepper or your favorite seasonings. Bake until golden
brown on the edges, a little crispy. Serve as an
appetizer with dip or as a side dish.
Thoreau on Living.
Quick Links to
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