Wood Prairie Seed Piece
             Organic News and Commentary
                     Friday, March 24th 2017
                         Volume 25 Issue 06


 In This Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:

    Fighting To Protect Home.

     No, Washington DC Does Not Have a Monopoly on Bad Ideas. In our family we believe in standing up and fighting for what's right. Even when that fight comes during the middle of our busiest shipping season. We know some of our most important work is to act as stewards and to take care of the land. As farmers, the land is good to us and we won't stop fighting on behalf of the good of the land.
 Caleb, Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
 Wood Prairie Family Farm
 Bridgewater, Maine
Click here for the Wood Prairie Family Farm Home Page.
.Mainers Testify to Ban Metallic Mining & Protect Maine From Environmental Disaster.

Unsafe-to-Mine Metallic Sulfide Deposit in Maine. Widespread across Maine including midcoast & Downeast.

     What started out as an attempt to prevent Canadian mega-corporation JD Irving from gutting Maine’s tough mining regulations and building a open pit copper and zinc mine on Bald Mountain is becoming a state-wide rallying cry to ban all metallic mining from the State of Maine.

    This is now the third attempt by Irving, in their unholy alliance with the wayward LePage administration and its oxymoronic “Department of Environmental Protection,” to connive to weaken Maine’s mining regulations.  It was Irving lobbyists who wrote the bill that the errant DEP is pushing to gut Maine's mining rules.

     Bald Mountain, in the North Maine Woods, is located at the pristine headwaters of the Fish and Aroostook Rivers.  It is forty miles northwest of Wood Prairie Family Farm.

    At Bald Mountain – and many places in Maine (see adjoining map) - are ancient volcanic deposits which contain high levels of sulfur (sometimes 40-52%), metals like copper, zinc and gold, plus contaminant heavy metals like arsenic.  In Maine’s wet climate it is impossible to prevent rain from leaching sulfuric acid and arsenic from tailing piles into Maine’s clean surface waters.  In recent decades, experienced mining companies investigated Bald Mountain and concluded they could not safely establish a mine because of the high sulfide content of the ore.  If only Irving were so wise or caring.
    Modern mining is very machine intensive and very much prone to failures.  What is becoming clear is that Mainers are increasingly unmovable and unwilling to sacrifice our clean environment so that a few out-of-state or out-of-country machine equipment operators gain a few jobs in a reckless venture which would forever spoil the land we call home.

     Jim made the 500-mile-round trip and traveled to Augusta on Monday to testify at the Legislative hearing.  Below are the comments he prepared.

March 20, 2017

Members of the Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resources,

           Thank you for this opportunity to present my views on Maine’s mining regulations.   
I’m Jim Gerritsen, and for the last forty years our family has been faming in the Unorganized Territory of Central Aroostook County, near Bridgewater.   We grow Maine Certified Seed Potatoes.
         Our family is opposed to the weakening of Maine’s mining regulations and therefore we’re opposed to LD 395.
Because Maine has a wet climate, Maine is absolutely unsuitable for open pit mining.  It would be a predictable disaster that the environment would be irreparably harmed from leaching of contaminants such as arsenic and sulfuric acid if an open pit mine were to be allowed on Bald Mountain.
  As potato farmers, we are keenly aware of changes in weather patterns, particularly over the past fifteen years or so.  Compared to the weather of thirty and forty years ago we are now much more likely to experience severe and extended rain events. 
     In areas like Bald Mountain, located forty miles northwest of our farm; and Maple Mountain, located five miles west of our farm, the risk of catastrophic failure from a breach in tailings containment, due to an extreme rain event, is unacceptably high.
The State of Maine should ban all open pit mining.
     Additionally, your Committee should put an end to corporate welfare which happens when mining interests extract and privatize the mineral wealth and then saddle Maine taxpayers with the cost of cleanup by declaring bankruptcy once mineral extraction has been completed.
     Out of state corporations like Irving may exert a lot of pressure for a dubious boom and bust mining project.   However, your real job is to both exhibit integrity and protect Maine’s environment from such bad ideas. 
     In standing up for what’s right and keeping tough mining regulations, you’ll be helping Aroostook’s economy by protecting the long-established livelihoods of those of us who work the land, run the hunting camps, and otherwise cater to the locals and visitors who value and are attracted to Maine’s pristine environment.

Thank you.

Jim Gerritsen
Wood Prairie Family Farm
Township D, Range 2
Aroostook County, Maine

Caleb & Jim & Megan
Special Offer: FREE Organic Buckwheat Cover Crop Seed.

     Perhaps our favorite cover crop is Organic Buckwheat.   Valuable for improving soil, fast growing and weed smothering, Organic Buckwheat can even be harvested as at a young age for spinach-like greens.  Importantly, Organic Buckwheat roots grow down deep into the subsoil and bring up to the top growth the valuable mineral Phosphorus.  Once that lush growth is chopped and incorporated into the soil with a shovel,  rototiller or plow, it will decompose and then provide Phosphorus for the next crop you grow.

     Here’s your chance to fall in love with Organic Buckwheat.  Earn yourself a FREE 2.5 Lbs. sack of our Organic Buckwheat Cover Crop Seed (Value $9.95) when your next order totals $59 or more. FREE Organic Buckwheat Cover Crop Seed Offer ends 11:59 PM on Monday, March 27, 2017, so please act now.

     Please use Promo Code WPFF406. Your order and FREE Organic Buckwheat Cover Crop Seed must ship by May 7, 2017. Offer may not be combined with other offers. Please call or click today!

Organic Buckwheat. The humble hardworking fast cover crop.

OMRI-Listed Trident. New availability of Bt tenebrionsis for CPB.
BREAKING! New Organic Material for Control of Colorado Potato Beetles.

     We’ve just received word that at long last an acceptable formulation of the biological organic insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis ssp. tenebrionsis Strain SA-10 (Btt) has earned a listing with Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI).

     The “new” product is called Trident, and it is manufactured by Certis USA.  We used Trident back about twenty-five years ago and are happy such an effective low-ecological profile input will once again be available to organic farmers and home gardeners.   CPBs can cause serious crop loss.  Now organic growers will be able to rotate with other input controls like Entrust or Debug Turbo (Neem Oil).

    Historically, Btt has acted as a stomach poison effective on small (first and second instar) CPB larva. Historically, it was important one apply Btt early – at hatch – and to avoid applying to large larvae and adults (with a relatively large mass).  The concern was with large body mass, one would essentially be applying a material with insufficient concentration to cause CPB death.  That was a poor practice and a good way to build resistance in CPB

     While available information still appears to be limited, one citation on the Certis USA website indicated Trident could be used against adults as well as larva.  Either this information is 1) incorrect or else 2) Certis has ramped up the active ingredient concentration in the new product. Stay tuned. Usage rate on the product label is 3-6 quarts/acre with a minimum of 20 gallons water/acre as a carrier. 

    Here’s how we used to know when to spray.  Using ten colorful diversion ditch flags, we would identify and flag orange egg masses located on the undersides of potato plant leaves in our potato patch.  We’d check egg masses daily.  Once the first three egg masses hatched (30% hatch), we’d immediately apply the first spray, late in the afternoon or early evening after the sun has weakened.  Larvae ingested a lethal dose as they fed overnight and then died over the next 2-3 days.  One would easily see the dead bugs lying on the ground.  We would apply a second application about seven days later and always in the evening for best results.

    For farmers to be able to legally use Trident, Certis USA will need to register the new input for use in each individual State.  With the help of MOFGA, we are already initiating that effort here in the State of Maine.  You may want to approach Certis USA to encourage them to register Trident for use in your state.  Check with your state Dept of Agriculture for details on the registration process.

     We are currently seeking out commercial availability on Trident .  We will share the  results of that search in a future edition of the Seed Piece, so stay tuned.


Click Here for Our Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes.
Notable Quotes: Shelly Testifying to Protect Bald Mountain.

Recipe: Parsnip Johnny Cakes.

1 c Cornmeal
1 c Whole Wheat Flour
1 T Baking Powder
1 T Maple Syrup
2 c Milk
1 Large egg
1/2 c Pre-cooked parsnip, chopped or coins
12 Leaves fresh sage
2 T Butter
Mix dry ingredients. Beat eggs well, add milk and combine the two mixtures. Add the tablespoon of maple syrup, along with the parsnips. Melt the butter in a cast iron skillet and fry the fresh sage leaves until crispy. Remove sage leaves and set aside. Spoon pancake batter onto pan and place a fried sage leaf on the top of each pancake. Turn when bubbly, and brown your Johnny cakes on the flip side. Enjoy as a main meal or a savory side dish.


Delightful Parsnip Johnny Cakes.
Photo by Angela Wotton.

 Caleb & Jim & Megan Gerritsen
 Wood Prairie Family Farm
 49 Kinney Road
 Bridgewater, Maine 04735
 (207) 429 - 9765 Certified Organic, From Farm to Mailbox