Wood Prairie Farm
 The Seed Piece Newsletter
             Organic News and Commentary
                  Friday January 24, 2014

 In This Issue of The Seed Piece:

    Agrarian Elders at Big Sur.

      Agrarian Elders Gather in Big Sur to Discuss the Future of the Organic Community.  Last week two dozen farmers, each with a minimum of 30-50 years of experience as organic farmers, met for five days of discussions at Esalen in Big Sur, California. First row (kneeling, left to right): Barbara Damrosch, Four Seasons Farm, Maine; Anne Lazor, Butterworks Farm, Vermont; Bob Cannard, Green String Farm, California; Eliot Coleman, Four Seasons Farm, Maine; Nash Huber, Nash’s Organic Produce, Washington; Frank Morton, Wild Garden Seed, Oregon; Steve Decatur, Live Power Community Farm, California; Middle row: Shirley Ward, Esalen Farm, California; Hui Newcomb, Potomac Vegetable Farms, Virginia; Jack Lazor, Butterworks Farm, Vermont; Betsy Hitt, Peregrine Farm, North Carolina; Tom Willey, T &D Willey Farms, California; Susan Tyler, Whaelghinbran Farm, New Brunswick; Jake Guest, Killdeer Farm, Vermont; Michael Ableman, Foxglove Farm, British Columbia; Dru Rivers, Full Belly Farm, California; Jim Crawford, New Morning Farm, Pennsylvania; Gloria Decatur, Live Power Community Farm, California; Back row: Deborah Koons Garcia, Filmmaker, California; Jim Gerritsen, Wood Prairie Farm, Maine; Norbert Kungl, Selwood Green, Nova Scotia; Don Bustos, Santa Cruz Farm, New Mexico; Warren Webber, Star Route Farms, California; Jean Paul Courtens, Roxbury Farm, New York; Amigo Bob Cantisano, Heaven and Earth Farm, California; Michael Murphy, Founder, Esalen, California.

Our Elders’ gathering was held at the remarkable Esalen Institute in beautiful Big Sur.  Esalen is a world-renowned retreat founded over 50 years ago and offers unparalleled opportunities for reflection, study and depthful educational workshops in an isolated setting.

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

Click here for the Wood Prairie Farm Home Page.

     Big Sur Looking South from Esalen Lodge. The gathering of Agrarian Elders involved extensive discussions of what one person termed both “The Great Unraveling” and “The Great Turning.”  While we peeled away the multiple layers of where we are and how we got here as a community, importantly, much of our time was spent acknowledging and identifying the extent to which organic farming principles are fusing into and transforming world agriculture and more generally, society.  Of universal concern was how we foster and maintain our unwavering commitment to organic principles, idealism and integrity in the face of despotic forces dedicated to concentration, centralization and an untenable status quo.
     A documentary film and book about this first time ever Agrarian Elders gathering are now in the works.  In the shorter term, articles composed by writers from the New York Times and the Washington Post, who covered and witnessed the event, should be appearing shortly.  We’ll keep you posted in the Seed Piece.

Organic Spuds. Safe and delicious.
(Photo: Courtesy of The Mother Earth News).

 The Mother Earth News: "#1 Expert Shares Organic Potato Tips."

     A lengthy interview last Fall with the folks from The Mother Earth News has resulted in a just published in-depth how-to article on growing organic potatoes.  In its pages we think you’ll find some good ideas about how to grow great potatoes.

     "Jim Gerritsen and family have been growing seed potatoes for 37 years at Wood Prairie Farm in Bridgewater, Maine. Gerritsen, a potato farmer whom many consider the No. 1 organic potato expert in North America, has a lot to say about the benefits of homegrown spuds. 'If you do a good job, you can harvest about 70 to 90 pounds per 100 square feet — that’s a lot of calories and a lot of nutrition,' he says. To get to that point, though, a grower first needs to learn the ins and outs of how to grow organic potatoes on a home-garden scale. Gerritsen agreed to share his potato wisdom with MOTHER EARTH NEWS, and his tips are sure to raise your potato-growing IQ. Let’s dig in!"

Jim & Megan

Click Here for Our Wood Prairie Farm Organic Certified Seed Potatoes.

North Dakota: Ground Zero for Cover Crop Cocktails

     Treating the soil well by planting soil-building cover crops offers great rewards for the conscientious gardener or farmer because it helps makes the soil better and more productive.  Plus the food grown on such soil is more healthful for your family.  Good soil stewards often have half of their acreage in these soil building crops at any one time.  In fact, excellent farmers - like our friend Jean Paul Courtens of Roxbury Farm in New York, one of the Agrarian Elders – will often spend as much money on cover crop seed as they will spend for seed used for harvested crops.  These facts illustrate the importance of nurturing the soil which truly sustains our families and our communities.

     Blending together multiple diverse cover crop seed varieties into recipes designed to be complimentary and hyper productive have come to be called ‘cover crop cocktails.’  Pioneered on European organic farms over 40 years ago, the modern American movement towards cover crop cocktails might call North Dakota their new birthplace. Among the North Dakota leaders of cover crop cocktail movement is the Burleigh County Soil and Water Conservation Dsitrict.  Their website contains great information and nice power point presentations.

     One of their excellent primers is entitled ‘Building Soil Health’.  This particular power point explains there are four basic categories into which one may organize cover crop cocktail seed:

1. Cool Season Grass. (for example, Spring Wheat or Oats).

2. Cool Season Broadleaf. (for example, Oilseed Radish).

3. Warm Season Broadleaf. (for example, Buckwheat).

4. Warm Season Grass. (for example, Corn).

    Experimenting and blending together your own unique mixes of complimentary cover crop cocktails is fun, is great for the soil and can produce wonderful and beautiful results.  Treat your soil well and it will produce well for you forever.

Jim & Megan

Cover Crop Cocktail. This cocktail mix contains several different varieties including Organic Admiral Pea and Organic Hull-less Oats.
Notable Quotes: Benjamin Franklin on Citizen Responsibility.

Wood Prairie Farm Discovery 'Prairie Blush'. Prairie Blush Meets the Fry Pan and we like the results (Photo Credit: Russell French).
Recipe: Pan Fried Potatoes

Thinly slice 1 1/2 pounds of potatoes such as Prairie Blush or Butte.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the potatoes until just cooked through and tender but not falling apart. Drain the potatoes and let dry and cool for a few minutes.

Heat 1/2 cup olive oil in a cast iron pan and add the potatoes when when oil is hot. Cook over medium heat, stirring and tossing regularly until golden, about 15 minutes.

Season with sea salt, fresh herbs such as rosemary, dried tomatoes or crispy bacon.


Special Offer: FREE Organic Hull-less Oat Cover Crop Seed.

     By now every good gardener knows that cover crops are invaluable for improving soil health. You know the best soil grows the best food – flavorful, nutritionally dense, fresh and long lasting for your family.  Always keep a few bags of Organic Cover Crop Seed on hand so you can quickly seed down a newly harvested corner of the garden as soon as it is done producing for the year.

     Here's your chance to earn a FREE 2.5 lbs Sack of our Organic Hull-less Oat Cover Crop Seed (Value $9.95) when the value of good in your next order is $50 or more.  FREE 2.5 lbs Sack of Organic Hull-less Oat Cover Crop Seed offer ends Midnight Monday, January 27, 2014, so better hurry!

     Please use Promo Code WPF1169. Your order and FREE 2.5 lbs Sack of Organic Hull-less Oat Cover Crop Seed must ship by 5/8/14. Please call or click today!

     This Offer may not be combind with other offers.

Click Here for our Wood Prairie Farm Organic Vegetable Seed Section.

Organic Hull-less Oats. We grow them in Maine in rotation with our organic seed potatoes.
Our Mailbox: Climbing out of the Pit, Poor Substitute for Justice, Raw Milk Prison.

Climbing out of the Pit.

Dear WPF.

     Good Morning Jim, first off, "Thank You" for all your effort and determination you contribute to this segment of our world. Seriously, I for one, thank you. What prompted me to write you this morning is a request for your permission to occasionally copy and use your words for headliners of some of your articles that need to be shared, such as your most recent one I found this morning. May you find the strength and support to continue this work, thank you.

Sault Ste Marie, ONT

WPF Replies.

     Thank you, you are kind. Absolutely, please do share with abandon anything we post. That is precisely the reason we post: our effort to help folks understand the tough situation our world is in. The more people share, the better for all of us and the planet. We have the ability to climb out of this pit we've dug, but it will take a much greater understanding and dedication to pull it off. And as you know there are dark forces working overtime to maintain the status quo, and the status quo is unacceptable.


Poor Substitute for Justice.

Dear WPF.

     Jim, The case has to be made that placing novel plants in the environment is bad enough. Look at what European consumers did to McCains and their transgenic seed. The trade organizations such as the ones that you belong to seem to be narrow in focus and so small and old-fashioned that the Supreme Court and others think that human kind would starve to death if Monsanto loses this fight.

World Wide Web

WPF Replies.

     Well, perhaps. But we did have 83 plaintiffs in total representing over 1 million citizens in the landmark lawsuit OSGATA et al v. Monsanto. That was a large plaintiff group. It was not simply one modest trade association. Even after the U.S. Supreme Court decision denying our standing, we still believe Monsanto's patents are invalid. Had we gained standing we would have succeeded in court at proving their invalidity. After all half of all US patents when challenged are found to be invalid. Political will is a poor substitute for justice. Expediency won over right.


Raw Milk Prison.

Dear WPF.

Ridiculous. Oregon Farmers May Go to Prison for Raw Milk Ads.
World Wide Web

WPF Replies.

     Raw milk has been vilified for a very long time. We farm, we milk cows and our healthy family has been drinking our own raw milk for over 35 years. The old observation in the milk business is that pasteurization makes unsafe milk 'safe' to drink. American citizens are grown-ups and we have the right to decide what food we will feed to our families. In the words of President Thomas Jefferson: "If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny."


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