Wood Prairie Farm
 The Seed Piece Newsletter
             Organic News and Commentary
                  Friday April 17, 2014

 In This Issue of The Seed Piece:

    Reaching Our Plateau.

     Wood Prairie Farm Carrot Shipping Now Completed.  Every year we grow an acre or two of organic Chantenay carrots – plus organic beets, parsnips and onions - for you and our catalog and web business as well as for wholesale accounts.  Last week, right on schedule, we shipped off the last of our Fall-dug carrots.

     This week our steady increase in weekly shipments of organic seed potato orders reached its plateau – as we do at this time every year – after having been expanding week-by-week for the last twelve weeks. The number of orders we ship weekly will soon gently begin to decline until the 4th of July. Then, our seed potato supplies will be exhausted, marking the end of our main shipping season, a little shy of ten months long.  Throughout the Summer months we continue busy, not only farming, but also shipping Organic Vegetable Seed, Organic Cover Crop seed, Tools and Supplies, and as well as Organic Granary goods to you and other home cooks.

As our world warms up, we are happy to report to you in this issue of the Seed Piece several unmistakable indications of a shifting political climate. After the extended dark winter, these signs of progress are most welcome.

      Better times are what we all deserve and what we should expect with the coming of Spring.

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

Click here for the Wood Prairie Farm Home Page.
Maine Farmer To Speak at United Nations.
   Jim Gerritsen of Wood Prairie Farm has accepted an invitation to participate on a guest panel at the United Nations on Tuesday, April 22, 2014.  The event will be the fourth Interactive Dialogue of the General Assembly on Harmony with Nature which will commemorate International Mother Earth Day.  The 10am-1pm session will air live from New York City.  A link providing access to the webcast will soon be posted on the United Nations Harmony with Nature website.

Jim will speak along with four additional panel members.  He will offer a farmer’s perspective on the advantages and challenges facing organic agriculture today in an era of declining resource availability, heightened corporate domination of agriculture, and farming systems challenged by the effects of climate change.

“I’m grateful to have been provided this unique opportunity to discuss solutions and concerns organic farmers have for the environment and the planet," said Gerritsen. "United Nations delegates from around the world are quite a remarkable audience.”

In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed April 22 as International Mother Earth Day.  In doing so, Member States acknowledged that the Earth and its ecosystems are a common home shared by all.  A just balance of the economic, social and environmental needs of the world may only be achieved when world citizens and leaders come to understand and promote Harmony with Nature.

Involvement with Farmer Protection
Gerritsen, who with his family grows organic seed on their farm in northern Maine, is president and co-founder of Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, the national farmer-run membership trade organization of the organic seed community.

OSGATA gained world notoriety in its role as lead plaintiff in the landmark federal lawsuit, OSGATA et al v. Monsanto, filed in March 2011.  Farmer-plaintiffs sought both to challenge the validity of Monsanto’s transgenic (genetically engineered) seed patents and gain court protection from claims of patent infringement should farmers through no fault of their own become contaminated by Monsanto’s patented seed.  The group gained a partial victory and had their concerns vindicated when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., last June issued a judicial ruling ordering Monsanto to not sue farmers who may receive trace amounts of contamination.

Working for Family Farmer Justice
Appearing at the United Nations will not be Jim’s first time to speak in New York City.  In December 2011, he spoke at Zuccotti Park and the Occupy Farmers March.  The next month Gerritsen was back in New York, along with scores of plaintiff farmers for a legal proceeding in the OSGATA et al v. Monsanto lawsuit. Afterwards, he spoke at the accompanying Citizen’s Assembly In Support of Family Farmers in nearby Foley Square, an assembly held to demonstrate broad public support for the farmers seeking justice from the courts.

“It’s our responsibility to insist that organic family farmers receive justice, that our right to farm the way we choose is respected and that organic seed and organic crops be protected from contamination,” said Gerritsen.

In recent years, panel participants at this U.N. event have included Vandana Shiva of India and Pat Roy Mooney of Canada.  Written contributions and filmed presentations from the fourth Interactive Dialogue of the General Assembly on Harmony with Nature are slated to appear online

Jim & Megan

Click Here for Our Wood Prairie Farm Certified Organic Vegetable Seed.

Maine Farmer Jim Gerritsen. Off the farm.

Strong Vermont GMO Label Bill. And NO trigger!
Vermont Making History with STRONG GMO  Label Bill.

     With tremendous momentum behind them, Vermont is now on track to make history and soon pass the nation’s strongest GMO Labeling bill. 

     After winning favor by huge margins in three separate Senate Committee proceedings, Senate Bill S.112 made its way yesterday for a final vote on the Senate floor. The vote was an overwhelming – and nearly unanimous – victory in support of right-to-know GMO Labeling, 28-2.  

      Yesterday’s Vermont Senate vote represents a crushing defeat for Biotech and it’s hand maiden, the outlaw junk food lobbyist Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA).  Both gangs of corporate bullies have poured massive resources and tens of millions of dollars into Vermont and other GMO Labeling battleground states - including California, Washington, Maine and New Hampshire – in order to mislead, scare and threaten voters and legislators away from gaining their legitimate right-to- know about whether food has been genetically engineered.

     Last session the Vermont House passed by a wide margin similar legislation which would  also require mandatory labeling of GMO food.  It is expected that very shortly the House will take up the new Senate version and move the strong legislation forward.

      The last hurdle will be for Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin to sign into law the bill the Legislature passes.  Importantly, S.112 does NOT contain a Trigger requiring other States to pass similar legislation before Vermont’s law would take effect.  As bill language reads now, Vermont’s law would mandate GMO Labeling to take effect in July 2016.


Click Here for Our Wood Prairie Farm Organic Cover Crop & Farm Seed.

Video: How We Grade Organic Certified Seed Potatoes on Wood Prairie Farm.
     We hope you will enjoy our new YouTube video (3:01) which shows how we clean, size and grade organic seed potatoes at Wood Prairie Farm on our 'long line' grading line.

     Here are the steps: First, a 4' x 4' x 4' wood pallet box holding 2000 pounds of field-run potatoes - in this case 'Island Sunshine’ which have been in storage now for six months - is lifted onto the 'dumper.'

    Next, potatoes are gently dumped into a padded hopper, then fed onto two in-series brusher-cleaners.  The first is a rubber-tipped-brusher which removes gross dirt.  The second brusher is outfitted with nylon brushes which buff up tubers and leaves them with a fine petina.

    After the brushers, potatoes pour onto a wooden 'drop sizer' containing two different sizing chains ('peewees' and 'Bs') which split out the small tubers and distribute them to side conveyors.

   The final step is the 'roller table.' This table rolls over and over the tubers too large to drop through the sizing chains.  These ‘largest’ tubers are in fact modest in size because they are Certified seed potatoes designed to be small because smaller tubers have more value as seed since they plant more row feet per pound . The roller table allows us to inspect, identify and jettison any defective potatoes (or rocks). ‘Pickout potatoes’ are ground up and fed to our cows and pigs.

    The grading procedure is performed on our 20+ varieties all winter long in our windowless underground potato storage.  We maintain the cellar at 38ºF and high humidity throughout the winter.

     Aside from the green dumper-hopper - which we fabricated ourselves - all the potato handling equipment was manufactured right here in Aroostook County. Click here for the video.

 Jim & Megan

Click Here for Our Wood Prairie Farm Organic Certified Seed Potatoes.

Grading Island Sunshine. Tubers on Dropsizer (click on image to watch video).

Notable Quotes: Upton Sinclair.

Cornmeal Pancakes with Maple-Cranberry Butter.
Photo by Angela Wotton
Recipe: Cornmeal Pancakes with Maple-Cranberry Butter..

6 T unsalted butter, softened
3 T unsalted butter, melted
1/4 c fresh or frozen cranberries
3 T pure maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
2/3 c cornmeal
2/3 c spelt flour
2 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 c whole milk
1 large egg

In a food processor, pulse the softened butter with the cranberries, maple syrup and 1/2 tsp of the salt until combined. Scrape into a small bowl and set aside.

In a bowl, whisk the spelt flour with the cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and the remaining 1 tsp of salt. Whisk in the milk, egg and 3 T of melted butter.

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat and brush with butter. Ladle in batter, cook until just beginning to set, flip the pancake and cook until just cooked through. Transfer the pancakes to plates, spread with the cranberry butter and serve with maple syrup.

Special Offer: Get Your Own FREE $10 Gift Card!

     Who couldn’t use some extra cash to help with garner great goods like Organic Vegetable Seed, Organic Certified Seed Potatoes, Organic Cover Crop & Farm Seed, and Tools for Organic Growing? It’s easy and you can wind up with a FREE $10 Wood Prairie Farm Gift Card with your next purchase!

     Earn your FREE $10 Wood Prairie Farm Gift Card when the amount of goods in your next order is $50 or more.  FREE Wood Prairie Farm Gift Card offer ends Midnight Monday, April 21, 2014, so better hurry!

     Please use Promo Code WPF1175. This Offer may not be combined with other offers.  Please call or click today! 

Click Here for Our Wood Prairie Farm Organic Granary Section.

Wood Prairie Farm Gift Card. Earn yourself some free cash.
Our Mailbox: Good Safe Milk, No Detect Policy, Willing Workers.

Doing It Right.

Dear WPF.

     What about the safety of raw milk?

World Wide Web

WPF Replies.

     There is an old saying in agriculture that pasteurization makes unsafe milk safe to drink. We'd rather start with good, fresh and naturally safe milk. Our family has been milking cows and drinking raw organic milk for almost 40 years. For decades "sanitation laws" have been whipped up in the U.S. as a scare tactic by special interests (in raw milk's case, dairy processors) to consolidate their control and to hurt competitors (for example, family farmers direct selling raw milk). Jurisprudence is very slowly recognizing the fact that people have a right to determine which foods they will eat. Europe perhaps understands this concept better than we do in the USA.


No Detect Policy.

Dear WPF.

     Do you know about this group, Genetics ID?

World Wide Web

WPF Replies.

     Genetics ID in Fairfield IA is a company started up by Dr. John Fagen, a top notch scientist with great integrity and noted opponent of genetic engineering. Genetics ID performs state of the art PCR testing of organic and non-GE crops (limit of detectability, one kernel from a 10,000 kernel sample or 0.01%) to determine whether there is adventitious presence of unwanted transgenic (genetically engineered) content. Many organic farmers and seed companies in Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) use the services of Genetics ID because they are highly competent and we trust John Fagan. Genetic ID is where we send our at-risk organic seed to verify it is free of  unwanted GE content. At Wood Prairie Farm we follow a 'No Detect Policy' which means if an organic lot of seed is found to contain unwanted GE content we will not sell it. That is and always has been our policy.


Willing Workers.

Dear WPF.

     I just found out about this, WWOOF, Do you know about his organization? Just wondering.


Norwich, CT

WPF Replies.

     Yes, as far as we know they are a good outfit. They have been around a long time. Way back they used to be known as 'Weekend Workers on Organic Farms'. And then 'Willing Workers on Organic Farms'. I believe the new name, "World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms", reflects the reality of longer, world wide, beneficial opportunities for both folks willing to pitch in, and organic farmers wanting help and liking to have visitors.


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