Wood Prairie Farm
 The Seed Piece Newsletter
             Organic News and Commentary
                  Friday April 04, 2014

 In This Issue of The Seed Piece:

    Blanketed with Snow and Seed.

     Full Seed Ahead. Outside, Northern Maine is still blanketed with two feet of snow in fields and woods.  But the subzero nights of March - and even last week - have now passed away as the calendar has turned to April.  The Weather Office in Caribou offered assurance that our perception of winter’s enduring cold was not simply imagined.  It turns out March 2014 was the coldest March ever observed since Caribou began keeping records in 1939.  To top that, we’re now told it’s official: the four wettest years ever recorded in Aroostook County, since 1939 anyway, have occurred in the last five years.

   Inside our cool potato storage and packing shed, we are fully engaged and consumed with shipping seed.  With the help of neighbors – and thankfully this week also our college workers due to Spring break - we are immersed in the seed business. These are the busiest shipping weeks of the year.  Every day hundreds of boxes of seed potato orders provide traction on still icy roads to the trucks of UPS, Fedex and the Postal Service who back up to our dock to haul parcels away to gardens and fields south and west.

   This also is sap season and the below freezing nights and above freezing days are causing the maple sap to run.  At nearby Bradbury Maple Farms our neighbors and friends are working hard in season.  The evaporators are burning steady and hot, generating huge plumes of billowing steam as the water is boiled off to make this year’s crop of Maine maple syrup.  

  Here in Maine, these are our traditions, watching Winter turn into Spring.

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

Click here for the Wood Prairie Farm Home Page.
New Report From Big Sur.
   How does one convey a clear sense of what went on during those thirty-five hours of collaborative group discussions held last January in Big Sur, in the event known as the Agrarian Elders Gathering?  That daunting literary task was tackled and skillfully completed with grace and insight by Noël Vietor, a young, depthful and talented observer to the week-long proceedings.  Noël’s marvelous twenty-two report, entitled Agrarian Elders Conference Summary offers a fly-on-the-wall glimpse into what was on the minds of the two dozen seasoned organic farmers who met for the first time ever to discuss the future promise and challenges of organic farming. 

   In due course, the Agrarian Elders Gathering wil be the subject of a book by Agrarian Elders Gathering organizer and farmer Michael Ableman.  Additionally, filmmaker Deborah Koons Garcia is moving forward with her documentary film of the event. Previous films of Deborah include the acclaimed The Symphony of the Soil and The Future of Food.


Click Here For Our Wood Prairie farm Organic Vegetable Seed.

Agrarian Elders Gather in Big Sur to Discuss the Future of the Organic Community [Click on Photo to Enlarge]. In January 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.

Dr. Arden Andersen. Medical doctor and solid agronomist at the top of his game.
Must WATCH Interview! Dr. Andersen By Dr. Mercola.

     Last Fall, five of us from Wood Prairie Farm attended the three-day soils school in Bangor, Maine, taught by renowned agronomist, Dr. Arden Andersen.  Not only is Arden exceptionally knowledgeable on the topic of soils, but he is also a medical doctor who teaches good nutrition is the basis for soil and human health.  It was a great course.

   Arden is interviewed by Dr. Mercola in this new MUST WATCH video interview (39:45) Biological Gardening—A Food Growing System That Easily Beats Genetic Engineering.  The interview serves as a primer teaching how a gardener or farmer can grow nutritionally dense food, and how our own health - and the planet's health - depends on it. "First, fundamentally, understand food is about health. It's about the nutrition necessary for human health. Disease, weed and insect problems are all about a lack or imbalance of that nutrition in the soil and in the crop. And if we are really going to address those fundamental things - the nutrition, the soil health issues - then we actually do solve the weed, disease and insect problems at their fundamental level. So we can continue to build nutrition in the soil...It's the consumer that really holds the power. Every day you and I as consumers vote at our grocery stores with our dollars. That's where the power is. What the industry doesn't want the people to know is that genetically engineered crops are toxins. We're not talking about a belief system difference...We talking about fundamental toxicology. GMO products are toxic. They are foreign proteins that are proven to cause inflammation."

Jim & Megan

Click Here For Our Organic Wood Prairie Farm Seed Potatoes.

And Yet Another Interview: Jim Gerritsen on 'C The Power' Radio.
     Just as we were finishing up packing a large seed potato order early this afternoon, it was time for me to take part in a fun radio interview conducted by Cheryl Greenlee and her ‘C The Power’ program broadcast live from Palm Springs, California.

     The hour-long interview has already posted online in the program archives.  Cheryl’s and my conversation was wide-ranging and fully reflective of my background as a farmer. Topics we covered included growing potatoes, organic farming and how organic growing mitigates climate change.  We spoke about concentration and control in the economy by large corporations and what individuals can do to make our world a better place.  We also discussed what we each can do to create new opportunities for young organic farmers plus novel ways for people everywhere to get their hands dirty from gardening even if they don’t have their own back yard.

     We hope you will give Cheryl’s program a listen.


Click Here for Our Wood Prairie Organic Cover Crop Seed.

Good Maine Spuds. Plenty to talk about.

Notable Quotes: Chief Louis Farmer Describes the Three Sisters.

Outsanding Oatmeal Date Cookies.
Photo by Angela Wotton
Recipe: Oatmeal Date Cookies.

1-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
3/8 tsp. ground cardamom
4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 cups rolled oats
1-1/2 cups chopped, pitted Medjool dates

Heat the oven to 350˚F. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, and cardamom.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat until combined. On low speed, mix in the dry ingredients until combined. Using a wooden spoon, fold in the oats and dates until evenly distributed.

Drop rounded tablespoons of dough about 2 inches apart onto two ungreased cookie sheets. Bake, rotating the sheets and swapping positions halfway through, until the cookies are firm and golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the sheets to cooling racks and let sit for 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies directly to the racks to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough on cooled cookie sheets. Makes about 40 cookies.    

Special Offer: FREE Cobrahead Hand Weeder.

     Success comes from knowing what to do and then having the right tools to do it. As Maine farmers, we are not much impressed with celebrity, position or riches.  However, if you want to get our attention, go ahead and set a well-designed tool out in front of us like the Cobrahead Hand Weeder.  The Cobrahead – which comes in short-handled and long-handled versions – is an effective precision weeder based on a proven traditional design which utilizes high quality long-lasting modern materials. The Cobrahead represents outstanding workmanship and is a reasonably priced tool you can expect to hand down to your kids.

     Here's your chance to earn a FREE Cobrahead Hand Weeder (Value $24.95) when the amount of goods in your next order is $70 or more.  FREE Cobrahead Hand Weeder offer ends Midnight Monday, April 7, 2014, so better hurry!

     Please use Promo Code WPF1174. Your order must ship with FREE Cobrahead Hand Weeder and entire order must ship by 5/8/14. This Offer may not be combined with other offers.  Please call or click today! 

Click Here for Our Wood Prairie Farm Organic Gardening Tool Section.

Cobrahead Hand Weeder. The steel fingernail.
Our Mailbox: Super Corn Root Worm, Numerous Calamities, Hot & Humid.

Doing It Right.

Dear WPF.

     Very good. You seen this fella?
https://www.cornucopia.org/2014/03/voracious-worm-evolves-eat-biotech-corn-engineered-kill. My question is those "new" root worms, how damaging to your organic crop are they? Or are they just a rootworm, same as before?

World Wide Web

WPF Replies.

     We are organic farmers who do grow organic seed corn. Our organic production practices free us from problems with the corn worms. Now Biotech has ALWAYS had a problem with telling the truth. This article I wrote in our 'Seed Piece' newsletter 17 years ago explains "outside experts" - those not employed by Biotech - were predicting insect resistance to transgenic Bt in 1996. They are 'super' corn root worms in that the stupid transgenic Bt application has allowed the root worms to develop resistance to Bt. I've always heard - here in Maine anyways - that corn root worm is only a problem if you DON'T rotate, and instead have corn following corn. By rotating crops - and EVERY organic farmer rotates - you break up the insect cycle and starve out the corn worms. GE crops dumb-down farming and temporarily allow farmers to practice bad farming and get away with it. But in the end the piper is paid and society would have been far better off to encourage good farming from the outset.


Numerous Calamities.

Dear WPF.

     It's been a while since we've talked. I have listeners asking/complaining about having to purchase/apply for a "Grower's License". Is this sweeping or is it only through Monsanto seed products? I would assume this would be a trick to later hold the farmer responsible for numerous calamities.

World Wide Web

WPF Replies.

     I know that certain seed companies - including those owned by Monsanto - are using contract law to gain new control over varieties they sell. It goes something like this: "By the act of opening this bag of seed you are agreeing to abide by our Grower Licensing Agreement." The Grower Licensing Agreements may contain draconian language which greatly disadvantages the farmer. Farmers should be very wary and very skeptical of the details and pitfalls contained in these Grower Licensing Agreements. If I were in their shoes, I would immediately investigate seed alternatives which did not contain a Grower Licensing Agreement.


Hot & Humid.

Dear WPF.

     I have general questions about your potatoes. I live in S. Florida where it's hot and humid, the central a/c in my house runs 24/7. When I buy non-organic potatoes at the grocery store, they come packed in a clear plastic bag. I usually purchase what's called Idaho potatoes. I take them out of the bag and put them inside a wood cabinet that's designed for storing root vegetables.Many times these potatoes show green color directly below the skin when I peel them.


Tampa, FL

WPF Replies.

     Potatoes which have a green tint have been improperly handled in the store and are suffering from "Lightstruck Greening." Potatoes are tubers and in the presense of light the tubers will green up and experience an increase in Solanine, which comes across as a bitter taste. Green potatoes should be discarded and not eaten.


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