Wood Prairie Seed Piece
             Organic News and Commentary
                     Friday, April 7th 2017
                         Volume 25 Issue 07


 In This Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:

    In the Home Stretch.

     And Huckleberry Gold Hangs On. If you haven’t yet ordered, now is a great time to stock up on Huckleberry Gold potatoes - before we sell out.  Huck Golds are a sensational new variety with great taste and texture.  They have an impressive growing habit in the field and beautiful blossoms.
      We’ve now crossed into April, Northern Maine’s final month of winter and we’re at peak seed shipping.  As is becoming more and more typical, winter’s cold again has been holding its grip through March and into April.  The woodstove keeps chugging along 24/7.
      This winter the Weather Office recorded a new Snow Depth record in Caribou.  Our first heavy snowfall was on November 30.  By March 30, a new record was set when an uninterrupted snow cover - of at least one-foot of snow – was maintained for 121 consecutive days.  The old record of 120 days was set in the winter of 1968-1969.  Weather records have been collected in Caribou going back to 1939. 
      Our farm is still completely covered in snow – not a patch of field is to be seen.  However, maple sap has been running, so we know Spring is on the way.
 Caleb, Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
 Wood Prairie Family Farm
 Bridgewater, Maine
Click here for the Wood Prairie Family Farm Home Page.

Plant An Heirloom Apple this Spring. Invest now in a delicious future.
Get Inspiration for Planting An Heirloom Apple Tree.

     Spring is not only the time to plant most annual vegetable crops - like organic potatoes - but also the best time to plant fruit trees.  With our cold winters here in Maine, planting fruit trees is usually understood to mean cold-hardy apple trees.   Whatever apple varieties you decide you do want to plant – and you will need more than one variety in order to have proper pollination – give plenty of thought to your decision because apple longevity means this is the definition of long-term decision-making.

     Happily, there is a resurgence of interest in trees from the past.  One of the best books about heirloom apples has written by our friend John Bunker, Not Far from the Tree – A Brief History of the Apples and the Orchards of Palermo Maine.

      All across Maine, organic farmer John Bunker is renowned for his great knowledge and passion for heirloom apples.  For decades he has been a tireless volunteer for Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Assn (MOFGA).  Not surprisingly, then, it was John who became the leader behind MOFGA’s visionary Maine Heritage Orchard.  Now, pour yourself a cup of tea and enjoy watching this YouTube video (16:57) about MOFGA’s remarkable Maine Heritage Orchard.  It’s located near MOFGA’s Common Ground Fairgrounds so next time you’re in Unity, Maine, check it out.

     To further inspire you about the benefits of planting a few apples trees, let us relate a story we were recently told by capable organic farmer Mark Fulford in central Maine. Despite last year being a serious drought year, thanks to his green thumb and Ramial Chiped Wood mulch, Mark enjoyed  a bumper crop of apples with excellent quality.  From just a single apple tree, a russeted  heirloom Hudson Golden Gem, Mark harvested 750 pounds of organic apples which he sold for just shy of $2000. Multiply that result out by ten years and one can easily understand that apple trees are truly an unbeatable real investment for your family and for your children’s children.

Caleb, Jim & Megan

Click Here for our Certified Organic Vegetable Seed.
Special Offer: FREE Organic Classic Russet Seed Potatoes.

     Classic Russet is the name of a promising new mid-season potato from the Pacific Northwest’s  Tri-State Potato Breeding Program.  We’ve been growing Classic in our Organic Potato Variety Trials for several years now.  Classic is high yielding, has good culinary quality and is a good keeper.

     Classic is in good company.  Two other up-and-coming fantastic potato varieties we like very much are also from the Tri-State Potato Breeding Program: Huckleberry Gold and Yukon Gem

     Now here’s your chance to give Organic Classic Russets a try and it won’t cost you a dime!  Earn yourself a FREE 1 Lb. sack of our Organic Classic Russet Seed Potatoes (Value $11.95) when your next order totals $49 or more. FREE Organic Classic Russet Seed Potato Offer ends 11:59 PM on Monday, April 10, 2017, so please act now.

     Please use Promo Code WPFF407. Your order and FREE Organic Classic Russet Seed Potatoes must ship by May 7, 2017. Offer may not be combined with other offers. Please call or click today!

Click Here for Our Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes


Organic Classic Russet. New potato from our Organic Variety Trials.
Notable Quotes: Aldous Huxley on Reality.

Recipe: Potato Gnocchi.

(Pronounced 'No-Key')

You can use either waxy or floury potatoes. Waxy potatoes don't need an egg yolk when mixed with the flour but floury potatoes will.

2 potatoes (about 1 lb), unpeeled (I used Prairie Blush)

pinch of sea salt

1 egg yolk (optional)

3/4 c Wood Prairie organic whole wheat or spelt flour

2 tsp olive oil

4 T unsalted butter

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

freshly grated parmesan cheese, for garnish

fresh sage, for garnish

1. Place the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with cold water and add a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil reduce the heat, and simmer until the potatoes are tender, 30 - 40 minutes.

2. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pan. Shake the pan gently over low heat to dry the potatoes. Let stand just until the potatoes are cool enough to handle.

3. Peel the potatoes and cut them in chunks. Pass them through a ricer or food mill. Transfer to a lightly floured surface. If using an egg yolk, make a well in the center of the potatoes and put the yolk in the well.

4. Sprinkle the potatoes with some of the flour and slowly work in. Repeat until all the flour has been added and the mixture forms a smooth, slightly sticky, dough.

5. Divide the dough into fourths, and roll each piece into a 15" long rope about 3/4" in diameter. Using a floured knife, cut each rope into thirty pieces. The gnocchi can be cooked as is; or to make decorative ridges, flour a dinner fork and roll the gnocchi under the tines.

6. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the olive oil, and then drop the gnocchi gently into the boiling water.

7. When gnocchi rise to the surface, cook 30 seconds more. Drain in a colander.

8. Melt the butter in a large skillet along with the sage and add the gnocchi. Toss gently and season with salt, pepper, and a generous grating of Parmesan cheese.

The New Basics Cookbook, by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins

Serves four.


Potato Gnocchi.
Photo by Angela Wotton.

Mailbox: Aroostook Potatoes and Cornell Potatoes.

Aroostook Potatoes.

Hi Jim,

I am working on a book about the environmental movement in Maine. More pertinently, I am working on a chapter about farming. I am curious as to how long potatoes have been the biggest commodity crop in Maine. I know they are today and have been for some years, but I was wondering if they had been the leading crop for say 50 years or even 100 years? Perhaps there is no reliable data, but your article for MOFGA was so rich in information I thought maybe you had a thought on this issue.

Yarmouth, ME

There's Maine, and then there's Aroostook when it comes to potatoes. Maine's potato history began earlier than Aroostook and became dwarfed as markets for Aroostook potatoes were created.
The best overall history I can refer to is the book Farming in Maine 1860-1940
by Clarence A. Day. It is a treasure trove.

While the first Aroostook potatoes historical lore attribute to be 'Bluenose' potatoes grown in Houlton around 1807, lack of market and lack of easy transport restricted production to local demand.
History shows Aroostook responded to potato demand in a big way when that demand developed. The earliest commercial call for Aroostook potatoes was in the early 1870s with the invention of local starch factories and the first rail lines.

An article by our friend Steve Sutter relates the relatively low level of Aroostook potato production capacity in the 1870s.

However by the 1890s there was a good network of railroad lines which connected Maine to the Eastern seaboard and potato production exploded.

According to Day (pg. 131-2) Aroostook potato production increased seven-fold in the twenty years from 1869 to 1889.

Then, between 1890 and 1900 Aroostook potato acreage increased 2.5 fold to 41,953 acres.

I believe it would be accurate to state potatoes have been a major Maine crop for 125 years.

This lengthy article is another great source of info.


Cornell Potatoes.

    I'm originally from Elba, NY, where potatoes have been grown in large quantity for 100 years. How did "Elba" potatoes get their name? Thanks!

Minneapolis, MN

"Elba" was bred by potato breeders at Cornell University and named after your Elba.  It's a great potato.


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