Wood Prairie Seed Piece
             Organic News and Commentary
                    Friday, March 25th 2016
                        Volume 24 Issue 07


 In This Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:

  Victory Ahead.

     Building Upon the Historic Vote in the U.S. Senate.  Thanks in large measure to an avalanche of calls made recently by citizens to members of the U.S. Senate, Monsanto’s infamous DARK (Deny Americans their Right to Know) Act – as reported in our last Seed Piece - fell dramatically short of the 60 votes needed for cloture on a vote of 48 Yes – 49 No on March 16.
      The cynical industry-driven bill would have crushed States’ rights and invalidated the established mandatory GMO Labeling laws overwhelmingly passed in Maine, Vermont and Connecticut.  Maine’s two U.S Senators, Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) both voted against the measure and in favor of defending Maine’s law from Monsanto attempt to federally preempt landmark mandatory GMO Labeling laws universally supported by over 90% of citizens in the United States.
    The fight is not over yet as Monsanto continues it shady back room dealing over the Senate’s Easter Recess.  Parliamentary maneuvering sought by Monsanto last week and concocted by Senate leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) allows an amended form of the DARK Act to again be brought before the Senate for a vote and thus a potential renewed effort to preempt State law and scuttle mandatory GMO labeling.
     Our national consumer-family farmer coalition has identified Four Principles (above) which must be a part of any National GMO Labeling Law.  Please let U.S. Senators know that unless a bill contains these Four Principles they should vote it down and thereby defend citizens’ right-to-know.  Thanks!
      Listen to the latest insight and developments in the GMO Labeling battle in this interview (18:59) taped this morning of Wood Prairie Family Farm’s Jim Gerritsen by morning host Don Cookson of WZON Radio – the Bangor, Maine radio station owned by resident and prolific fiction writer Stephen King.
    Meanwhile, after an unusual string of mild days earlier this month, Winter has firmly regained control in Maine.  Today’s ice storm closed schools in Northern Maine. Now at peak shipping, our stay-at-home girls pitched in and helped the crew box up a huge pile of orders of seed potatoes headed south and west.

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

Report on Agrarian Elders Gathering. Five days and twenty-seven farmers distilled into ten pages.
Report on Second Agrarian Elders Gathering.

     Clara Coleman, talented organic farmer and daughter of Maine’s well-known organic legend farmer Eliot Coleman has just finished writing her official report on the recent Agrarian Elders Gathering held back in January at Esalen Institute in Big Sur on California’s isolated Central Coast, south of Monterey.

    Clara’s new report is complimented by another brief report written for Esalen’s e-News by Colin Cotton, the resident Esalen Farm & Garden Coordinator.

    The initial Agrarian Elders Gathering was held in 2014 and for the first time brought together elder farmers from across North America, each of whom had a minimum of thirty years experience in organic farming.  That gathering was covered by the New York Times.

     This year’s Agrarian Elders Gathering brought together Elders and Youngers – young but experienced and exemplary leaders from the next generation of organic farmers – with the dual design of cross-pollination and passing the torch.


Special Offer: FREE Sack of Organic Certified Yukon Gem Seed Potatoes.

     Yukon Gem is a new, attractive, good-tasting variety in the Yukon Gold family.  We have been growing Yukon Gem for a few years now in our Wood Prairie Experimental Plots.  It is a mid-late variety and normally exhibits higher yield as well as increased disease-resistance (including Potato Late Blight) over Yukon Gold.  In the kitchen, you will find Yukon Gem is moister than Yukon Gold.  It would be classified as a Waxy Mid-Dry potato - akin to Prairie Blush or King Harry.

     We think everyone should give Yukon Gem a try in their garden or field.  Here’s your chance to experiment on us.  Earn yourself a FREE 1 lb. Sack of Organic Yukon Gem Maine Certified Seed Potatoes (Value $11.95) when the amount of goods in your next order totals $35 or more. FREE 1 lb. Sack of Organic Yukon Gem Maine Certified Seed Potatoes offer ends Midnight Monday, March 28.

     Please use Promo Code WPF 483. Your order and FREE 1 lb. Sack of Organic Yukon Gem Maine Certified Seed Potatoes must ship by 5/6/16. This offer may not be combined with other offers. Please call or click today!

Questions? Call us at Wood Prairie Family Farm (207) 429-9765.

Click Here for Our Wood Prairie Family Farm Organic Cover Crop Section.

Organic Yukon Gem. This is one new variety you will want to try..

Wood Prairie Potato Webinar #6. One final session before we shift to Spring work.
 Last FREE Wood Prairie Potato School Webinar of the Year Scheduled for Next Thursday.

        Next Thursday March 31, 2016, at 1 pm ET/10 am PT, will be Wood Prairie  Potato School Webinar #6 “Why Crop Rotation is an Organic Potato Farmer’s Best Friend.”

    It will be the sixth and final Webinar in our Winter series which began back in December. The Webinar is FREE and open to the public and we hope you will join us.  Please take a moment to Register now by clicking on the button.  We promise we’ll email you a reminder the day before the Webinar happens. 
       Should you like to watch any of our previous Wood Prairie Potato School Webinars you may find them on our Wood Prairie You Tube Channel or by using the links provided below.

Jim & Megan

Wood Prairie Potato School Webinar #5: OK, My Potatoes Are Planted, Now What Do I Do?”

Wood Prairie Potato School Webinar #4: 'Of Course Before You Harvest You've Got to Plant'

Wood Prairie Potato School Webinar #3:  'Why All This Hullabaloo About Efficiency at Harvest?'

Wood Prairie Potato School Webinar #2:  'So THAT’S How They Multiply Seed Potatoes'

Wood Prairie Potato School Webinar #1:  'Butte (Say “Beaut”-iful)'

Click Here for our Wood Prairie Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes.

 An Organic Farmer Speaks at a Local Maine College.

     That farmer would be Jim and the college was the University of Maine campus at Presque Isle, 25 miles away.  In recent years, responding to increasing interest, UMPI has added a Sustainable Agriculture program to its offerings and has been adding new professors from disciplines such as soil science. 

     Earlier this month, Jim was invited to speak at a noontime series dedicated to bringing in various members of the community to speak on a topic important to them.  It will come as no surprise to anyone as to what Jim chose to talk about.  The title of his presentation was “Challenges to Organic Farming.” 

     The Bangor Daily News covered the event and below are some excerpts from their article.

Jim & Megan

“'You may not win but you’ve got to fight,' Gerritsen, co-owner of the Wood Prairie Farm, said at a seminar with students and faculty at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, which has a new sustainable agriculture program. 'All of us who have kids, we’ve got to hand them something more than what we’ve got here'...

“There’s no failure in the ability of organic farmers to grow food,” he argued. 'The challenges are political challenges. We have a concentrated corporate control of our government. Everybody knows about the revolving door of people from private industry that come into the government as supposed regulators. Private industry people are making decisions on behalf of the citizens, but in fact they’re making it for the corporations they come from.'

"Gerritsen said that he and other organic advocates are trying to counter what they see as corporate influence creeping into the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s organic farming regulations...

"Despite the battles Gerritsen sees ahead for people who want to live sustainably, one of the prevailing ideas in organic farming — soil health — is being adopted broadly in agriculture, from Maine potato growers to Midwest corn farmers.

"'Soil is all-important,' Gerritsen said. 'The whole concept in organic is that if you treat your soil well, you’re going to have a healthy plant and the healthy plant is going to have natural resistance to insect and disease pressure.”

Jim Gerritsen Speaks at UM-Presque Isle. Potato farmer talks in the heart of potato country.
Notable Quote: Alexis de Tocqueville on Truth.

Recipe: 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.

Delicious Black Bread.
Photo by Angela Wotton.

Our Mailbox: It's About Time & Farm Detective Work.

It's About Time.

Dear WPF.

     One of my readers wrote to me and had something to say that I thought you'd enjoy since it certainly complimented your approach to sending out seed potatoes.
"I also recieved my potato order (Elba) from Wood Prairie Farm because your contact (Jim Gerritsen) recommended this variety as better for vertical tower growing, which I do. I'm chitting them now. I also ordered other potatoes from another supplier, but think this will be the last year for them because "they" regulate when my seed potatoes arrive and not me. I go through all this work to prep & warm the soil but then must wait??? With Wood Prairie the customer sets the arrival date! Thanks to YOU for sharing your advice about Wood Prairie Farm"

Hope all is going well with shipping orders and preps for planting. Wishing you the best of seasons.

Lottsburg, VA

WPF Replies.

     Thanks. Always appreciate hearing from our customers and friends.


Farm Detective Work.
Dear WPF.

    Attending the webinar today. Photos show my potato planter. Any idea who made it? Canadian I think but no markings.

Coudersport, PA

WPF Replies.

     The fertilizer belts do not appear to be rubber (John Deere). Are they cloth fertilizer belts? Your planter looks a lot like what ours used to. Our "McConnell" (used to be made in NY State) had cloth belts (we converted over to stainless steel belts). McConnells were virtually identical with Lockwoods (one must have copied the other) and parts were interchangable.
     Lockwoods have a unique very dark green paint color - maybe chip away the paint until you get down to the factory coat. McConnells were orange. https://www.auctionsfind.com/mcarthurbessey/6416_2010-05-22mcarthurbessey/McConnellPotatoPlanter.JPG

Given your location my guess would be McConnell. Any orange paint underneith?


Dear WPF.

    There's orange paint peeking out everywhere on this unit - looks like we have a McConnell with a cloth belt. Best wishes as your potato shipments head north.

Coudersport, PA

WPF Replies.

     We're now rebuilding and modifying a Lockwood potato planter. Our old secondhand modified McConnell has served us well for over 25 years. One has to respect solid built equipment like that.


 Jim & Megan Gerritsen
 Wood Prairie Family Farm
 49 Kinney Road
 Bridgewater, Maine 04735
 (207) 429 - 9765 Certified Organic, Direct from the Farm