Wood Prairie Farm               In This Issue of The Seed Piece: 
 Seed Piece Newsletter      Wood Prairie Farmer Interviewed on Maine Public TV in Farmers v. Monsanto
      Organic News and Commentary
                 Gerritsen Presents at Northeast Potato Technology Forum in Orono, Maine.
               Friday March 09, 2012                            FREE Plans for Building Potato Hand Grading Table.
                                                                                               Recipe: Delicious Black Bread
                                                                                               Special Offer: FREE French Chantenay Carrots
                                                                                               Mailbox: Right Food, Bad 'Possession', The Fight and Real Business
  March and Winter Begins to Lose It's Grip

Birthday Pinata.  Our Amy is celebrating her 9th birthday and Paula has made a Flower Pinata for her birthday party.  Paula is one of our Wood Prairie co-workers and she has a nice year-round home-based craft business - Custom Design by Paula -  in which she invents and builds original colorful pinatas.  Paula's pinatas are a bargain and she will ship almost anywhere. If you need a pinata you can check out Paula's FaceBook wall or send her an email at cfbpaula@yahoo.com.

Wood Prairie Farmer Interviewed on
Maine Public TV in Farmers v. Monsanto

     Maine's only statewide public affairs program, Maine Watch with Jennifer Rooks on Maine Public Television recently aired an episode (26:46) which included a segment on the organic community lawsuit Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al v. Monsanto.  Wood Prairie Farm's Jim Gerritsen, who is President of lead plaintiff OSGATA, was interviewed in a nine minute piece (beginning minute 16:25) in which he explains why the family farmers strongly disagree with the ruling to dismiss the case.

     Speaking about the dismissal, plaintiff lead attorney Daniel Ravicher said, “While I have great respect for Judge Buchwald, her decision to deny farmers the right to seek legal protection from one of the world's foremost patent bullies is gravely disappointing.  Her belief that farmers are acting unreasonable when they stop growing certain crops to avoid being sued by Monsanto for patent infringement should their crops become contaminated maligns the intelligence and integrity of those farmers.  Her failure to address the purpose of the Declaratory Judgment Act and her characterization of binding Supreme Court precedent that supports the farmers' standing as 'wholly inapposite' constitute legal error.  In sum, her opinion is flawed on both the facts and the law.  Thankfully, the plaintiffs have the right to appeal to the Court of Appeals, which will review the matter without deference to her findings.”

     Monsanto’s history of aggressive investigations and lawsuits brought against farmers in America have been a source of concern for organic and non-GMO farmers since Monsanto’s first lawsuit brought against a farmer in the mid-90’s.  Since then, 144 farmers have had lawsuits brought against them by Monsanto for alleged violations of their patented seed technology.  Monsanto has brought charges against more than 700 additional farmers who have settled out-of-court rather than face Monsanto’s belligerent litigious actions.  Many of these farmers claim to not have had the intention to grow or save seeds that contain Monsanto’s patented genes. Seed drift and pollen drift from genetically engineered crops often contaminate neighboring fields. If Monsanto’s seed technology is found on a farmer’s land without contract they can be found liable for patent infringement.

     “Family farmers need the protection of the court,” said farmer Jim Gerritsen, “We reject as naïve and undefendable the judge’s assertion that Monsanto’s vague public relations ‘commitment’ should be ‘a source of comfort’ to plaintiffs. The truth is we are under threat and we do not believe Monsanto.  The truth is that American farmers and the American people do not believe Monsanto. Family farmers deserve our day in court and this flawed ruling will not deter us from continuing to seek justice.”  

The plaintiffs have thirty days in which to file a notice of appeal.

Gerritsen Presents at Northeast Potato Technology
                                                           Forum in Orono, Maine.

     This week the annual Northeast Potato Technology Forum 2012 was held at the Wells Conference Center on the University of Maine campus in Orono, Maine.  Present were scientists and potato researchers from the northeastern US and the Canadian Maritimes, with attendees traveling from as far away as Pennsylvania, Quebec and Prince Edward Island. Session themes ranged from Pest & Disease Management to Potato Cropping Systems to Crop Production & Management.

     Jim Gerritsen, who with his family has been farming organically on Wood Prairie Farm in Northern Maine for over 35 years, was asked to give a presentation on Organic Seed Potato Production in the New Perspectives segment. Over the last twenty years, Wood Prairie Farm has on numerous occasions cooperated with scientists from both University of Maine and from the USDA Agricultural Research Service New England Plant, Soil and Water Laboratory which is located on the Orono campus. Gerritsen's power point presentation was given on the closing day of the conference.  It provides precise details on Wood Prairie Farm's organic rotation, fertility and biological enhancement inputs and is loaded onto the Wood Prairie website and may be accessed by clicking here.


FREE Plans for Building Potato Hand Grading Table.

Last issue of the Wood Prairie Farm Seed Piece we provided plans for building your own Wooden Potato Green Sprouting Trays.  This time around we offer to you our plans, first published in our Spring 1995 Seed Piece for building your own rugged and versatile Potato Hand Grading Table. Commonly called 'hand tables' in Aroostook County potato country, these are indispensable slightly-inclined funnel-shaped rugged work stations.  They can be used for grading or washing potatoes, onions, carrots, apples, etc in the Fall, cutting potato seed in the Spring, and gently filling burlap or mesh bags or cartons.  Once you build your first hand table, you will wonder how you ever got along without one.  Jim

Recipe: Delicious Black Bread

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/3 c warm water (105 - 115F)
1 tsp natural cane sugar or brown sugar
2 T cocoa powder
2 T finely ground espresso beans
1/4 c molasses
3 tsp caraway seeds, plus more for topping
3 T unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tsp sea salt
2 c coarsely grated potatoes (2 medium)
1 1/3 c rye flour
3 1/4 c bread flour or all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
olive oil for baking sheet
2 T buttermilk or milk

In a large mixing bowl whisk the yeast with warm water and sugar and set aside until foamy.

In a small saucepan over med-low heat, combine the cocoa, coffee, molasses, caraway, butter, and salt. Stir constantly until just melted. You want the mixture to be lukewarm when adding to the other ingredients.

Combine the grated potatoes and molasses mixture with the yeast mixture in the large mixing bowl. Add the flours, and stir until you've got a soft tacky adhesive dough. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead for about  5 minutes, adding flour as needed, until the dough is elastic and springy. You can also do this step using the dough hook on your mixer.

Shape the dough into a ball, rub with a bit of olive oil and place seam-side down into an oiled bowl. Cover and allow to rise a warm place for 1 -2 hours. Gently press down, with a closed fist, across the surface of the dough. Turn dough out onto counter and shape into a round loaf. Place on a very lightly oiled baking sheet , then cover loosely with a cloth. Allow to rise a second time in a warm place until nearly doubled in size, about an hour. 

Uncover, brush with buttermilk, sprinkle with a dusting of flour, 1 tsp caraway seeds, and use a serrated knife to slash an 'X' deeply across the dough (do your best not to deflate the loaf). Bake for 20 minutes at 425F. Lower heat to 350F and bake for another 20 - 25 minutes. Remove from oven and place bread directly on rack to cool. Megan.

Makes one extra-large loaf.

Black Bread
Photo by Angela Wotton


Special Offer: FREE French Chantenay Carrots

     While the temperature is forecast to hover near zero again tonight, these days the sun is now higher in the sky, winter is beginning to lose its grip in Northern Maine and we're enjoying some days that get above freezing.  March represents the last weeks that we'll be shipping our Chantenay Carrots and what a spectacular and especially sweet crop these Chantenays have been.

     Now here’s your chance to earn a FREE 2 lbs bag ($11.95 value) of our delicious organic Chantenay Carrots with your next purchase of $45 or more. FREE Chantenay Carrot offer ends Tuesday, March 13.

     Please use Promo Code WPF 1116.  Your order and FREE Carrots must ship by 4/3/12.  Offer may not be combined with other offers.  Please call or click today!

Click here for Wood Prairie Farm Organic Vegetable Seed


Our Mailbox: The Way Food Should Be.

Dear WPF.

     I just read the online article "The Way Food Should Be" in 'The Wire'. Thank you, Mr. Gerritsen, for everything you're doing to raise awareness of the importance of small family farms and food production. I greatly appreciate your dedication to shed light on the dangers of genetically engineered food and the corporate control of our food. I especially admire your courage and commitment to face Monsanto. We all have to become more vigilant to these critical issues.   

Madawaska ME

WPF Replies.

     And we're grateful for your support.

Jim & Megan

Our Mailbox: 'Possession' Is The Problem.

Dear WPF.

     I don't get it...if a paper company or a chemical company or a plastics company legally patents a process, but the effluent (byproduct) of that process flowed across their boundary onto someone else's property, they'd be liable as hell! Why isn't Monsanto liable for polluting the property of their neighbors? What am I missing?

Scarborough ME

WPF Replies.

     If a farmer, contaminated by Monsanto seed, should decide to sue Monsanto to recover for damages, we believe Monsanto would countersue that farmer for patent infringement. As soon as the injured farmer filed his complaint, his claim of damages would become prima facie evidence in a countersuit from Monsanto that he is in possession of Monsanto's transgenic technology and therefore liable for patent infringement.
     This is why family farmers, who want nothing to do with Monsanto, need ironclad protection under the Declaratory Judgement Act from Monsanto's threat of patent infringement litigation. The ruling to dismiss seriously erred and failed to follow the law.
     In copyright law there is an exemption called the 'fair use doctrine' which, for example, allows a book reviewer to use a snippet of the book in writing a book review. There is no such exemption in patent law/transgenic crops. Any unlicensed 'possession' is considered a patent infringement regardless of how that 'possession' came about. If my enemy came and threw Monsanto's Roundup Ready corn seed onto my farm in the dark of the night, I would then be in 'possession' of Monsanto's transgenic technology and would be liable for a claim of patent infringement. Unfair? Agreed.
     So this is why family farmers seek justice and protection by the court from Monsanto. This is why we filed our lawsuit under the Declaratory Judgement Act. We did not recieve justice with this faulty ruling.


Our Mailbox: To The Point.

Dear WPF.

     So proud of you all!

Bloomington IL

WPF Replies.

Thank you.

Jim & Megan


Our Mailbox: The Good Fight.

Dear WPF.

     Many thanks for your fabulous catalog, wonderful seed potatoes, and for fighting the good fight against Bad Ag.

Salem OR

WPF Replies.

     And many thanks for your business. Our livelihood comes from farming and it is good folks like you and all the others in our Wood Prairie community that sustain us and allow us to do everything that we do.

Jim & Megan

Our Mailbox: Real Business.

Dear WPF.

     I cannot wait to do business with you. Thank you for sticking up for small farmers who want to buy organic seeds that are not GMO and are not patented by some huge corporation.

Chillicothe OH

WPF Replies.

     Thanks so much for your support.

Jim & Megan


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