Wood Prairie Farm                            In This Issue of The Seed Piece: 
 Seed Piece Newsletter                                      The Fate of Organic Lawsuit in the Hands of Three Judges.
  Organic News and Commentary                                  Make a Date: Watch Betting the Farm Film Tonight From Your Home.
       Friday January 18, 2013                                                                                                                                          Carrot, Egg or Coffee?
                                                                                                   Recipe: Mini Potato Gratins.
                                                                                                   Special Offer: FREE Organic Red-Skinned Russian Garlic.
Mailbox: Good Wine, Sane Migration, Commons Compensation, Biotech Disinformation .:

        The Long Wait for Justice.
        Solid Cold.  Northern Maine is into the coldest portion of winter these days.  By daylight this morning the thermometer dropped to twenty below zero.  By late morning, under a sunny sky, the temperature had re-bounded to +3oF where it stayed all day long.  Knowing this cold snap was ahead of us in the forecast, we shipped out orders of seed potatoes early in the week before we plunged into this cold.  The forecast for next week is for more of the same cold.  So we'll keep the home fires burning and continue working in our warm 38oF potato cellar, pre-grading last Fall's harvest of potatoes and getting ready for the big Spring shipping rush which begins in earnest next month.

Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
Wood Prairie Farm
Bridgewater, Maine
Click here for the Wood Prairie Farm Home Page

The Fate of OSGATA et al v. Monsanto Now In the Hands of Three Federal Appellate Justices.

    Oral Argument on the Plaintiff’s Appeal of Dismissal in the landmark organic community lawsuit Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al v. Monsanto was heard in Washington, DC last week on Thursday, January 10.  The case seeks preemptive court protection under the Declaratory Judgment Act for family farmers who through no fault of their own may become contaminated by Monsanto’s patented genetically engineered seed.  The lawsuit also challenges the validity of the GE seed patents issued to Monsanto by the US Patent Office.

     The lawsuit was filed in March 2011 by a large group of 83 plaintiffs representing over 300,000 farmers and citizens.  In February 2012, Federal Court Judge Naomi Buchwald dismissed the case ruling that the farmers did not have standing to sue. Plaintiffs filed an Appeal of Dismissal, identifying numerous reversible errors of law committed by Judge Buchwald which led her to issue the faulty ruling.

     “Our farmers want nothing to do with Monsanto,” declared Maine certified organic seed farmer, Jim Gerritsen from Wood Prairie Farm, President of lead Plaintiff Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association.   “We are not customers of Monsanto.  We don’t want their seed.  We don’t want their gene-spliced technology.  We don’t want their trespass onto our farms.  We don’t want their contamination of our crops. We don’t want to have to defend ourselves from aggressive assertions of patent infringement because Monsanto refuses to keep their pollution on their side of the fence.  We want justice.”

     The January 10 Oral Argument was heard before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.  The Courthouse building is located near the White House.  The Appellate panel consisted of three justices:  Judge Timothy B. Dyk, Judge Kimberly A. Moore and Judge William C. Bryson.  A ruling is expected within two to four months.  If the Plaintiffs are successful in the Appeal of Dismissal our lawsuit will be sent back to Federal District Court in Manhatten
     Here are the words of Dan Ravicher, of the Public Patent Foundation, lawyer for the farmers, in his opening statement:
     “This case boils down to a simple question. If plaintiffs don’t have standing now, when will they? Do they have to wait to be contaminated by defendant’s seed and be exposed to liability risk? Do they have to wait until Monsanto directly threatens them, even though Monsanto has threatened other people…”  An audio recording (38:32) of the Oral Argument may be found here. The Monsanto attorney's evasiveness was striking to many in the courtroom.

     Immediately following the thirty-eight minute court session the dozens of farmers, aided by the publicly supported Farmer Travel Fund, who had traveled from across North America, exited the Courthouse and joined the Citizen’s Assembly in Support of Family Farmers, already underway in adjacent LaFayette Park.  There for an hour the farmers joined hundreds of supporters and spoke about their reasons for traveling to Washington, DC.  Here is a video (6:19) of Jim Gerritsen speaking to the Citizen’s Assembly.

Jim & Megan

Complete background information on OSGATA et al v. Monsanto may be found at www.woodprairiefarm.com


Make a Date: Watch Betting the Farm Film Tonight
     From Your Home.

     The powerful award winning film Betting the Farm is now available for purchase and instant viewing via the iTunes store or Amazon Prime.  This beautiful widely-acclaimed documentary tells the moving story of Maine organic dairy farmers who after abruptly losing their market and facing loss of their farms boldly decide to start up their own milk company – MOO Milk – Maine’s Own Organic Milk.
     Maine filmmakers Cecily Pingree and Jason Mann captured this genuine, gritty and sometimes humorous farmer tale with over 300 hours of raw footage and then distilled the gripping story into an unforgettable 84 minute masterpiece.  Do not miss this film!  Invite the neighbors over tonight and share this authentic story of challenge and hard won triumph by our dairy farmer neighbors in very rural northern and eastern Maine.
     Watch the FREE Betting the Farm trailer (3:16) right now on You Tube.

Jim & Megan

Click here to purchase your own Betting the Farm DVD directly from Cecily and brother-in-law Jason on North Haven Island.


Aroostook County Organic Dairy Farmer. Vaughn Chase.

Carrots, Eggs or Coffee?

[This story was shared with us by a friend from our community. Megan]

A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, "Tell me what do you see?"

"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they got soft.She then asked her to take an egg and break it.

After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.

Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma. The granddaughter then asked. "What's the point,grandmother?"

Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity--boiling water--but each reacted differently.

The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

"Which are you?" she asked her granddaughter.

"When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"

Think of this: Which am I?

Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff?

Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.


Recipe: Mini Potato Gratins.

Unsalted butter for muffin cups
4 medium Carola potatoes, about 6oz each
Coarse salt and ground pepper
6 T heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter 6 standard muffin cups. Thinly slice potatoes. Place 2 slices in each cup and season with salt and pepper. Continue adding potatoes, trimming as necessary to fit into muffin cups and season every few slices, until cups are filled. Pour 1 T heavy cream over each. Bake until potatoes are golden brown and tender when pierced with a knife, 30 to 35 minutes. Run a thin knife or spatula gently around each gratin. Place a baking sheet or large plate over pan and invert to release gratins. Flip right side up and serve.

Source: Martha Stewart's "Everyday Food", November 2010


Click here for our Wood Prairie Organic Seed Potatoes

Mini Potato Gratins.
Fun Variation.
Photo by Angela Wotton

FREE Red-Skinned Russian Garlic
Special Offer: FREE Organic Red-Skinned
     Russian Garlic.

You can never have enough great garlic on hand!  Take your free sack of Russian Garlic and toss it as is right into the freezer so that you will always have some garlic handy.  You need never run out of this incredible kitchen staple!

  Now here's your chance to earn a FREE 1 lb Sack of Organic Russian Red-Skinned Garlic ($19.95 value) when you purchase one sack of Russian Garlic at the regular price and your purchase totals $55 or more. FREE Organic Russian Red-Skinned Garlic offer ends Monday, January 21.

     Please use Promo Code WPF1137. Your order and FREE Organic Russian Red-skinned Garlic must ship by 2/13/13. Offer may not be combined with other offers. Please call or click today!

Click here for our Wood Prairie Farm Organic Fresh Vegetable Section.


Our Mailbox: Good Wine, Sane Migration, Commons Compensation, Biotech Disinformation.
Like Good Wine.

Dear WPF.
     Listened to the whole audio Oral Argument. Ravicher is wonderful. He's like good wine: he gets better each and every day. My thought was this:
GMO seeds can contaminate non-organic seeds, but not vice versa. This is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. The judges seemed to insist on some sort of case-by-case controversy between two farmers to help them make a decision. And Ravicher did his best to insist that all organic farmers feel threatened and beleaguered by GMO seeds, as well they should with 95% Monsanto seed being grown. But ultimately, it's a one sided affair, totally and completely unfair!

World Wide Web

WPF Replies.

     Dan Ravicher knows his patent law and he displayed a disciplined approach in court last week. What is fascinating to observe is that contamination of organic farms has never ever concerned Big Ag or Big Food. However, now that farmers are growing GE ethanol enzyme corn the shoe is on the other foot. Big Food manufacturers are wound up about GE ethanol corn because it has the potential to completely mess up their factory processes. A contamination level of just one kernel GE ethanol corn out of 1000 regular GE corn kernels will cause processed recipes for products like Corn Flakes to fail. So now the fight is on over GE contamination and showcasing the mythical and false 'co-existance' fallacy between Big Food and the GE ethanol corn industry. All of a sudden GE contamination is on the lips of the big boys because they are now feeling the pain themselves. One can't always predict the impetus for consciousness raising.


Sane Migration.

Dear WPF.
     I would be grateful for your input. Most of Bermuda's seed is from Seminis. As you know farmers like to stick with something once they know it works. How do we encourage a migration away from Seminis?


WPF Replies.

     Seminis was bought up by Monsanto about seven years ago. Some seed companies like Wood Prairie Farm want nothing to do with Monsanto so we've added Seminis to our list of companies we won't deal with.
     One angle might be to engage the farmers in an exercise of 'what will you do when variety X, Y or Z is no longer available?' History shows that as seed consolidation increases less popular speciality varieties are dropped by companies like Seminis in favor of fewer and more mainstream varieties. Virtually every vegetable farmer has already experienced this sort of loss to some extent. The answer many of us would offer to that question is that we perfom on-farm variety trailing so that we have knowledge of backup varieties should a primary favorite be withdrawn. Additionally, of course, open-pollinated varieties shift the seed control back to farmers but your neighbors, enthralled with hybrids, might not yet have arrived at the point of appreciating OPs yet.   


Commons Compensation

Dear WPF.

Failure of GE Crops: Dupont-Dow Corn Defeated by Armyworms in Florida: Study

     I never got a good answer when I asked why Bt is labeled for armyworm but Bt products had no effect on them last spring.

Penn Yan NY

WPF Replies.

     Of course resistance is a function of interaction. A population exposed to an insecticide will have some survivors even if 99.999% die and only 0.001% survive. Over time the resistant population grows as hardy individuals interbreed, however slowly at first. A population which has never been exposed to a particular insecticide is obviously at a different point of the continuum. So it is reasonable - for a time - to expect regional and local variations in resistance. However, in the end, resistance will be complete and universal and the material will forever have lost its effectiveness. When it comes to loss via resistance of a naturally occuring species of Bt due to predictable transgenic use/misue, that loss to the commons is significant. There should be culpability including compensation to the commons for the neglient taking.


Biotech Disinformation.

Dear WPF.
    I have a question for you. I read that GMOs are not the problem but that GEs are, but that Monsanto wants people barking about GMOs to keep the issue confused. Would you say that's an accurate assessment?

World Wide Web

WPF Replies.

     For all intents and purposes, GMOs = GE. The public understands the issue as 'GMO' or genetically modified organisms. Biotech has embarked on a disinformation campaign claiming that their technology is simply a continuation of 'genetic modification' which farmers have been doing (traditional breeding) for hundreds of years. This is total malarky because for the first time ever Biotech is transferring genetic material from one genera to another (for example splicing a gene from a flounder fish into a strawberry to enhance frost resistance). 'Genetic Engineering (GE)' as a term is more accurate and reflective of Biotech's real essense: the laboratory human engineered effort to transfer genes from one type of  organism to another. That's why we prefer the usage of 'GE' over 'GMO.' GE is more accurate and honest.


Wood Prairie Farm Quick Links

Jim & Megan Gerritsen
Wood Prairie Farm
49 Kinney Road
Bridgewater, Maine 04735
(800)829-9765 Certified Organic, Direct from the Farm