The Wood Prairie Seed Piece
            Organic News and Commentary
                  Friday, April 6th 2018
                    Volume 26 Issue 7


 In This Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:

  No Spring in Sight.

     Winter Scene, Main Street, Presque Isle, Maine. Circa 1900.  Thanks to our friend, Steve Sutter, for sharing this wonderful image of Aroostook County's 'Star City,' twenty-five miles from Wood Prairie Family Farm. While undated, we're thinking the electric power lines place it around 1900. Note the long sled loaded with barrels of potatoes between the first and second power poles.
     Circa 2018, last month's thoughts of the possibility of an early Spring seem to have been dashed by cold weather. In the last two weeks we've had three mornings with lows between +4ºF and +8ºF. Other mornings have been in the teens, including this morning's +11ºF. The later the Spring, the shorter the mud season. By the time the snow does melt, the sun is high enough in the sky to usually make short work of muddy ground.
     We have a favor to ask. In these days of modern internet marketing, Reviews have taken on a major importance. Would you please consider spending a moment to leave a Review on Trust Pilot? Thanks so much!
 Caleb, Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
 Wood Prairie Family Farm
 Bridgewater, Maine
New Video of Baby Icelandic Chicks.

This week we received our delivery of two dozen two-day-old chicks from our friends at Ketch Organics in Woodland (up near Caribou), Maine.   The Ketch Family specializes in raising Certified Organic Icelandics and continues to hatch out incubator-batches throughout the Spring and Summer.   If you are in Maine and are interested in maybe getting into Icelandics, give Andrew Ketch (207.227-4425) a call.  His prices include delivery almost anywhere within the State of Maine.

     This Icelandic Baby Chicks Video was taken this morning as the chicks had just turned seven days old.   Their cage is housed in Megan’s office and heated by the incandescent bulb as you’ll see in the video.  Yesterday, Megan gave the chicks some baked potatoes and they went wild with delight.  Their love of potatoes indicates they are obviously a highly intelligent breed.

     Icelandics, aka “Viking Chickens,” have quite a story. They are a thousand-year-old "landrace" breed brought by Vikings to what is now Iceland in 900 A.D.  As a landrace, due to their genetic diversity adults display a random appearance. They are very cold-hardy. This 'layer' breed (ideal for egg production) almost went extinct and remains very rare to this day.

Caleb, Jim & Megan

Special Offer: FREE Organic Maine Certified Caribe Seed Potatoes.

     Organic Caribe’ was crossed in 1969 (F55066 x USDA 96-56) by our friend, potato breeder Dr. Hielke de Jong, (co-author of our favorite, The Complete Book of Potatoes) at the Ag Canada research station in nearby Fredericton, New Brunswick.   After years of testing, Caribe’ (Spanish for “Caribbean”) was officially released in 1984. 
     From the outset, Caribe’ was designed as a variety for Canadian seed farmers to grow and export to Cuba where purple skin/white flesh varieties are traditional and popular.  Ironically, in tropical climates such as Cuba and the southern third of Florida, Caribe’ has experienced productions problems due to its susceptibility to the pathogenic fungus, Fusarium.  However, in the climate found in the rest of Florida and in the other 47 States, Fusarium presents but a minor problem for Caribe.’  It has achieved a far-ranging reputation as a very early, high-yielding, workhorse variety with high culinary quality.

     Twenty years ago we met Hielke at an organic conference in the Canadian Maritimes.  When we told him Caribe’ had steadily worked its way up to becoming one of our top-selling varieties, a grin came over his face and he was genuinely elated to hear the news!  Caribe’ is an outstanding potato.  Of the hundred potato varieties we have grown over 40 years, Caribe’ remains the only variety we have ever characterized as “Should be planted in every garden.”

    Now you can see the Caribe’ wonder for yourself by earning a FREE 1 Lb. Sack of Organic Maine Certified Caribe’ Seed Potatoes (Value $11.95) when your next order totals $59 or more. FREE 1 Lb. Sack of Organic Maine Certified Caribe’ Seed Potato Offer ends 11:59 PM on Monday, April 9, so please don’t delay!

     Please use Promo Code WPFF424. Your order and FREE 1 Lb. Sack of Organic Maine Certified Caribe’ Seed Potato Offer must ship by May 5, 2018. Offer may not be combined with other offers.  Please click today! 

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

Organic Caribe'. This potato should be planted in every garden. 
Maine's Winter Won't Let Go.

Underground Potato Storage Thermometers Tell the Story. The cold weather has helped keep our Wood Prairie Family Farm potato cellar cool.  The three thermometers represent from top to bottom the temperatures near the 14’ ceiling, halfway down at 7’ and right at floor level.  Temps are right where we like to see them this time of year. 

Cooper Enjoying the Snow. Earlier this week Northern Maine received a few inches of snow, then more cold and wind.  Wood Prairie’s Cooper the cat opted for outside over indoors and found a safe perch where he could watch all the comings and goings. 

Old-Timer Snowball Making the Rounds. Part of the job of a Wood Prairie guard dog is to keep the peace and make sure everyone and everything is in their right place.  Among her charges are cows, pigs and chickens.  She keeps troublemaker coyotes, raccoons and squirrels honest and away from where they’ll cause harm. 

Megan & Halle in Wood Prairie Barnyard.  Halle our young ‘guard’ dog lags behind Megan one snowy morning as Megan sets out to do chores in our
livestock tarp barn.

Notable Quotes: Martin Luther King Jr. on Nonconformists.

Recipe: Potato and Black Bean Soup.

1 c onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded if desired and chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 T olive oil
4 c vegetable broth
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 1/2 lbs small Dark Red Norland potatoes, quartered
1 14 oz can black beans, drained
1 tsp dried oregano
1 T cumin
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Yogurt, cheddar cheese or shredded carrots for topping

In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and jalapeno pepper and saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, around 1 minute. Add vegetable broth, tomatoes, potatoes, black beans, salt, pepper, oregano, and cumin increasing heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to med-low and cover, simmering for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

Cool slightly and transfer 1/3 mixture to a blender and carefully blend until smooth or use immersion blender in pot. If using blender, repeat with the remaining soup.

If soup is too thick, add water a little at a time. If too thin, return to medium heat and simmer, stirring often until desired consistency.

Top each bowl of soup with yogurt and garnish.

Serves 6

- Megan & Angie

Potato and Black Bean Soup.
Photo by Angela Wotton.

Mailbox: Brash Whiners and Organic Research Needed.

Brash Whiners

Unfortunately, the executive branch has almost complete discretion as to which laws it enforces.


Some years back during our 'OSGATA et al v. Monsanto' lawsuit I was invited to keynote at PIELC (Public Interest Environmental Law Conf) in Eugene OR. Another speaker was a former VERY top level official in Janet Reno's (Bill Clinton's Attorney General) US. DOJ. All the keynoters were put up at the same Bed & Breakfast. During one rather tense breakfast, in an effort to put me back in my place, I was schooled that DOJ investigates situations when an agency like USDA invites it in. I objected that American taxpayers expect DOJ to dispense justice, including investigating corrupted agencies like USDA which, of course, would never voluntarily invite DOJ investigation. He was not pleased to hear my impertinent opinion. I concluded he had been in Washington DC long enough to have drunk the water, conform himself to the system ('swamp'), and was pleased to imagine he had been doing all the good anyone possibly could in his position. I also reckon he judged me a brash whiner. Meanwhile, USDA continues in its downward spiral.


Organic Research Needed

Is there any reason why we don't hear strong support for the passage of the currently proposed Organic Agriculture and Research Act? Do farmers believe that this bill will benefit them? Do you support it? Or not?: If so, why?



     Organic needs and deserves much, much more DEDICATED research funding (independent of interference from USDA bias against organic). This bill should be supported. We attended the recent Organic Seed Growers Conference in Corvallis OR and one of the workshops dealt with the huge dilemmas from inadequate funding for organic seed breeding.
     One of the examples offered was about an inadequately funded USDA organic program in which 180 pre-proposals were submitted. Upon advice that only a tiny fraction of these worthwhile research projects could possibly receive funding, ninety full proposals were eventually submitted. In the end SIX were able to be funded. So, this serves as a good illustration that there are literally HUNDREDS of critical organic research projects which go unfunded. Bottom line, these are life and death research priorities for organic farmers. If DEDICATED funding is made available - and in dollar amounts reflecting the growth in organic production - the research will be undertaken and organic farmers and society will benefit.


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