Wood Prairie Farm                                     In This Issue of The Seed Piece: 
Seed Piece Newsletter                                                                        Maine Tales: The Pace of Progress.
  Organic News and Commentary                                                                                                 Recalling Russell Libby.
       Friday February 15, 2013                                                                                      Jim Gerritsen to Give Keynote at Law Conference.
                                                                                          Quotes Worth Considering: Mark Twain on Fools.
                                                                                     Recipe: Easy Nordic Bread.
Special Offer: FREE Vermont Compost Soil Mix.
Mailbox: Crashers, Caribe's Papa, Sweet Potatoes, Upstream and Farmer Film.

        The Building of Community.
    Town of Bridgewater, Maine.  Land plots in 1877. Click on image to enlarge.

Maine Tales.                                                   The Pace of Progress.                         Bridgewater, Maine Circa 1827.

     The first 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 American soil at the northeast corner of what the maps called Bridgewater township.

     The township was created on paper in 1803 when the District of Maine was still part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  The southern half of the township – 3 miles by 6 miles - was designated a Grant by the authorities to raise funds for the Portland Academy. Sales of land from the northern half of the township – also 3 miles by six miles - was a Grant similarly dedicated to supporting the public Academy in Bridgewater, Massachusetts.  The State of Maine gained its long desired independence from Massachusetts including freedom from the shenanigans of the merchant class in Boston seventeen years later in 1820.  Since the new State of Maine already had one town named Portland, exercising Yankee practicality, the new township was given its current name of Bridgewater.

     Since the last Ice Age, all of all of northern Maine was uninhabited (except for the Black Flies) primeval deep woods, absent of open fields. It is no surprise, then, that the first newcomers tried their hand at oxen logging and saw milling.  In 1827, first pioneer Nathaniel Bradstreet from the town of Palermo, in central Maine, struck out and arrived in the northeast corner of Bridgewater, along with his sons Joseph and John. They built their water-powered up and down sawmill at the confluence of the Prestile and what was later to be named the Whitney Brook. Before long a log cabin was built and Nathanial brought the rest of his family north. The Bradstreets cut more trees, sawed more lumber and cleared more fields and began to farm.  Farming, in time potato farming, became a long, enduring habit of the Bradstreet clan.  To this day some of the best seed potatoes grown in the Town of Bridgewater are those raised by our friend, Ryan Bradstreet, and his family.

     The settlement at the ‘Line’ (Canadian line) near Nathaniel’s mill grew at a slow but steady rate.  The settlement sprawled and spilled 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 could efficiently haul potatoes to Eastern markets, for the first time ever, Bridgewater passed the thousand mark with a farming population of 1179.
     The wild lands in the western part of the township took many, many decades to be settled.  Our Wood Prairie Farm is located two and one half miles west of where the North Branch and the South Branch of the Whitney Brook meet. Our farm would not be cleared and settled until nearly one hundred years after the town's first settlers arrived. Of the 56 acres we farm, we have cleared over 35 acres of fields.  We have shared in some measure the experience of the thousands of Nathaniel Bradstreets and their conversion of frontier wild lands into Maine’s Potato Empire.

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

TRUTHFUL Russell Libby. Portrait by Robert Shetterly, 2012. From Robert's Americans Who Tell the Truth series. Click on portrait to enlarge.

Recalling Russell Libby.

Mainer Caitlin Shetterly has just written a wonderful tribute to Russell Libby, MOFGA’s longtime leader, in The Portland Phoenix.

Writes Caitlin, “When trying to come up with a few words to commemorate Russell Libby, the former executive director of Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, who died in December at the age of 56, my first thought was: What could I possibly offer which is not already present in my father's stunning portrait? However, over last weekend, as the snow fell and fell, I picked up the phone and called people who knew Russell all over our great state of Maine.”

Maine Congresswoman and organic farmer Chellie Pingree shared with Caitlin, "As an economist, farmer, and poet, Russell . . . could point to the numbers to show positive effects smaller-scale food systems have for our economy. He could speak from experience of the difficulties of operating a small farm. And he could clearly illustrate the good things that happen when we have a closer connection to the land and each other. . . . It's my hope that this body will do well by him and take his vision to heart. 'I'm really not interested in standing over here in the local and organic corner for the rest of my life and waving, "Hi, we're having fun over here,"' Russell said. 'I'm really interested in this kind of food being available to everybody under the basic principle: enough for everyone, always.'"

Read the full tribute here.

Jim Gerritsen to Give Keynote at Law Conference.

   At month’s end, Wood Prairie Farm’s Jim Gerritsen will travel to Eugene, Oregon to deliver a Keynote address at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference. The PIELC is the largest conference of its kind and is annually hosted by the University of Oregon School of Law.

   The keynote will address the ramifications of the landmark organic community lawsuit. OSGATA et al v. Monsanto.  Gerritsen, President of lead Plaintiff Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, will discuss the action which challenges the validity of Monsanto’s transgenic (GE) seed patents and seeks to gain court protection for family farmers should they through no fault of their own become contaminated by Monsanto’s patented seed and then be perversely accused of patent infringement.

  Jim will be accompanied on the trip by his oldest son, Peter.

Click here for background information on the OSGATA et al v. Monsanto lawsuit.

Eugene, Oregon.
See you there.

Mark Twain. Insight on foolishness.

Quotes Worth Considering: Mark Twain on Fools.

“It is easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled

Mark Twain

Recipe: Easy Nordic Bread.

1 package yeast
3/4 c lukewarm water
1 tsp sea salt
3 T oil
3/4 c plain yogurt

Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water. Add the rest of the ingredients and knead the dough by hand or using a mixer for 10-15 minutes at a slow speed. Cover the bowl with a damp clot and leave the dough to rise for 1 hour. Gently stir the dough and then transfer to a greased baking tin or to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and leave to rise for a further 15-20 minutes.
Bake the bread at 375 F for approximately 30 minutes.
Dried fruits, nuts and raisins may also be added to the bread.


Easy Nordic Bread.
Delicious variations on a theme.
Photo by Angela Wotton

Karl Hammer's Vermont Compost. Only the best.

Special Offer: FREE Vermont Compost Soil Mix.

     Even up north here in Maine it is already time to begin the inside starting of slow growing transplanted crops like onions and celery. This year, get your organic plants off to a fast and healthy start with our top quality organic soil mixes from Vermont Compost.
     Now here's your chance to get a great organic head start and earn One FREE 6- Quart Sack of Vermont Compost Soil Mix (Value $12.95) – Your Choice of Fort Vee Potting Soil, Fort Light, or Compost Plus when your next purchase totals $55 or more. FREE 6-Quart Sack of Vermont Compost Soil Mix offer ends Monday, February 18, 2013.

     Please use Promo Code WPF1139. Your order and FREE 6- Quart Sack of Vermont Compost Soil Mix must ship by 5/8/13. Offer may not be combined with other offers. Please call or click today!

Click here for our Wood Prairie Farm Organic Garden Vegetable Seed Section.

Our Mailbox: Party Crashers, Caribe's Papa, Sweet Potatoes, Poison Upstream and Farmer Film.

Party Crashers.

Dear WPF.
     We need to leave the farming to farmers...the ones who know their land and know their seeds and what varieties are best for their micro-climate and other growing conditions. Scientists need to butt out..

Portland ME

WPF Replies.

     Alas, for generations, in a slight not unrecognized by farmers, our 'leaders' have considered farming far too important than to be left to the farmers themselves, or to the people whom they provide good food. Enter the 'Ag Industry', a monolithic interlocking matrix of self-serving special interests beholden to no one but themselves. Biotech is just one of the more recent party-crashers. The farmers and the people come in last. I expect you noticed that.


Caribe's Papa.

Dear WPF.

I planted your potatoes last year and they were wonderful!! I will be placing a larger order from you this year!! I absolutely love the Caribe' potato!! It is such a pretty potato and they were so delicious!! I will be planting a lot of these this year on our farm in Wisconsin. Also, thank you for all you do fighting to keep our food supply safe.

World Wide Web

WPF Replies.

     We agree with you about Caribe'. It is a great variety and our friend Hielke De Jong was the breeder of Caribe'. He and his son Walter (Cornell potato breeder) co-authored the recently published excellent 'The Complete Book of Potatoes.' available on our website.


Stalking Sweet Potatoes.

Dear WPF.

Jim, do you know of any organic Sweet Potato sources?

New Paris IN

WPF Replies.

     Yes, go to our friends at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. Jim.


Poison Upstream.

Dear WPF.

Sorry to hear about the recent case dismissal. I read first about the concern in Downeast Magazine and have been following since. There are a lot of "new technology versus law" issues here. I brought the case up in a Facebook discussion, and one of the posters had a point I'd not read about yet. Perhaps it has been previously addressed, I don't know...but I thought I'd throw it out in the event it hasn't.
Can invasion of patented technology into one's crops be considered "upstream pollution" - akin to having poison dumped upstream, subsequently spread on one's fields killing crop value?
     Good luck with your fight....just attempting to help right; and so passing along thoughts.

World Wide Web

WPF Replies.

     We are hoping a positive ruling in our OSGATA et al v. Monsanto and/or Bowman v. Monsanto will help to re-establish a desperately needed balance when it comes to patents on seeds. Right now all the power has been grabbed by corporations and the people are the losers.
Bowman v. Monsanto will be heard before the US Supreme Court next week (Feb 19) with a ruling expected about July.
Our Appeal of Dismissal in OVM was heard one month ago before the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, DC. We expect to get our ruling 1-3 months from now. We are hopeful we farmers will win our Appeal and gain standing so the case will be allowed to go forward.
     We believe that right now, should farmers seek to recover damages as a result of Monsanto's trespass and contamination to our crops - perhaps equivalent to your 'upstream pollution' concept - that perversely, Monsanto would counter sue us claiming that we illegally are in 'possession' of their patented technology.
     Our lawyers asked Monsanto for a binding legal covenant not-to-sue should - through no fault of our own - we become contaminated by Monsanto's patent seed. We interpret that Monsanto's refusal to honor our request is because they want to maintain their option to pursue us for patent infringement. This situation is grossly unjust and unacceptable and this is why we are continuing to pursue our rights in Federal Court.