The Wood Prairie Seed Piece
            Organic News and Commentary
                  Friday, April 20th 2018
                    Volume 26 Issue 8


 In This Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:

  No Spring in Sight.

     Aroostook County, Maine, Potato Harvest. Circa 1940.  Photograph by Jack Delano (1914-1997) employed by the Farm Security Administration.  The FSA was a New Deal Federal agency tasked with documenting and combating rural poverty.  Aroostook County was one of the regions talented Mr. Delano spent his time working in. 
       Note the gasoline engine mounted on the “potato digger” directly behind the farmer.  This engine powered the digger-lag-bed which significantly minimized the draft required from the horses, cutting down their fatigue.  Gearing on the engine also allowed the lags to be sped up in the event of wet harvest conditions, allowing more vigorous shaking of the mud through the lags. 
       On the ground lay 11-peck cedar potato barrels which each hold 165 pounds of potatoes.  While the West was still picking into burlap sacks - which had to be hefted and re-hefted numerous times - Aroostook pioneered the use of wooded potato barrels which could be hoisted with a grapple onto trucks and rolled into position on the truck and in the potato house before being dumped out and down through chutes into bins below. 
       At one time many Aroostook County towns had a barrel mill and each would build many tens of thousands of barrels for local use every year.  Bridgewater Barrel was one of the last barrel mills to operate and 40 years ago Jim worked as a cooper (barrel-maker) making potato barrels.
       Nowadays, we’re not thinking of potato harvest but instead feverishly shipping out tons and tons of seed potatoes and wondering what has happened to our Spring.  So far, snow melt has been retarded by cold temperatures and additional snowfall.  Normally, by this date, our fields are 2/3 to 3/4s free of snow.  Today, snow still covers 99.9% of our fields.  With a sunny five days in the forecast beginning Sunday, and temps predicted in the 40s and 50s, we should look a lot more like Spring by May 1 than we do today. 
 Caleb, Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
 Wood Prairie Family Farm
 Bridgewater, Maine
Location of USA's Certified Organic Operations.

Where the Organic Farmers Are. The vast, vast majority of U.S. "organic operations" are Family Farmers.

Special Offer: FREE Organic Maine Certified Reddale Seed Potatoes.

    Organic Reddale is an excellent no-nonsense, early, high-yielding red-skin white-flesh potato.  Don’t let the beautiful blossoms and modest sized-plant lull you into imagining Reddale is a light weight.  In reality, Reddale is a solid and reliable workhorse that has earned its keep on Wood Prairie Family Farm for the past 30 years.  Reddale stores well.

     But why take our word for it when you can see for yourself and it won’t cost you a dime?  Earn a FREE 1 Lb. Sack of Organic Maine Certified Reddale Seed Potatoes (Value $11.95) when your next order totals $59 or more. FREE 1 Lb. Sack of Organic Maine Certified Reddale Seed Potatoes Offer ends 11:59 PM on Monday, April 23, so please act right now!

     Please use Promo Code WPFF425. Your order and FREE 1 Lb. Sack of Organic Maine Certified Reddale 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 Reddale. Hard-working early Red potato.
Our Wood Prairie Crew.

Tom Vanderburg, Potato Packing Shed. Tom and his wife relocated to Aroostook County in the last year from Colorado where he worked as a mechanic.  Interestingly, one of his job application references turned out to be one of our long time seed customers in Colorado.  Like the rest of us, Tom is ready for the snow to melt and Spring to arrive.

Kenyon Howes, Potato Packing Shed. Ken’s parents were Rangers in the wilderness Baxter State Park, which surrounds Katahdin.   So he grew up in a park cabin without electricity and had to drive his snowmobile eight miles every morning to meet the school bus.  He works with us in the winters and during the summer he grows garlic, cuts firewood and builds hiking trails near Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.  

Frank Allen, Office. Frank is our longtime IT manager and keeps our Wood Prairie computer network humming.  He is a computer genius and remains best friends with Caleb’s older brother, Peter (who is down in Portland building houses). The Allen clan has lived and worked in Aroostook County for over 150 years.  Frank works with Megan in the office and helps Jim put together these Wood Prairie Seed Piece e-newsletters.

Molly Nickerson, Office.  Molly has been our family friend for 40 years and she’s often the one who answers your phone calls into the office.   She has lived in the same house on the U.S. Route One end of Bootfoot Road her entire life.  Most of her kids worked for us growing up, and Caleb went through school with her son Kody beginning in kindergarten.  In the Summer, Molly likes fishing and Whitney Brook is just fifty feet behind her back door.

Amy & Caleb Gerritsen, Potato House. In honor of Patriot’s Day (Monday, day of the Boston Marathon) school was out this week for Spring Break.  So Amy went to work and helped Megan in the office and here, is helping her brother, Caleb, put up a pallet of potatoes along with Jim.  As an athletic freshman, Amy can now lift a 50-pound-carton of potatoes head high and is able to build up pallets square and true. Next month she takes “driver training” (though she’s been driving tractors and pickups here on the farm since she was nine).

Chub, Office Supervisor. A real professional makes working hard look easy.  Only to the undiscerning eye might real brilliance be confused with laziness.  In the morning, after hundreds of orders have been sorted for the day’s shipping, it takes often unrecognized discipline and vision to pace oneself, rest one’s eyes and be ready to deal with future crises.  In this high stress work, a modern feline must always be at the top of his game.  For youthful old-timer Chub, this often means perching himself squarely in the middle of the hubbub, on the top shelf of the pigeon-hole-orders-cabinet. From here, transmitting a calming aura, Chub effortlessly monitors work flow and remains able to instantaneously issue dazzling directives whenever he deems it necessary.

Harvest of Fear. 10th Anniversary of Monsanto Expose'.
Monsanto: "Every Time We Win We Lose"

     April marks the 10th anniversary of the landmark Vanity Fair expose' on Monsanto entitled "Harvest of Fear."   For many - including farmers in our 'OSGATA et al v. Monsanto' federal lawsuit launched seven years ago - this must read article served as an important eye-opener to the diabolical nature of self-serving Monsanto.

         I had my own personal baptism with malevolent Monsanto twelve years earlier in 1996 when I attended the National Forum on Insect Resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).   Slick, way over-confident Monsanto marketing personnel were in attendance promoting and defending their fatally flawed insecticide-gene-spliced transgenic Bt crops to stake holders and sober scientists at the pinnacle of their field of entomology.   It was quite the spectacle.  We observed first-hand self-deceived Monsanto's attempt to lord over the USDA event and try to con attendees into the fictional resistance infallibility of their GE product.  History and biology would prove over time Nature right and Monsanto wrong.  This Forum was foundational and instructional, though maybe not so much for the intended reasons as for the illumination of Monsanto’s evil essence.
        However, it was ten years BEFORE that USDA Forum - that would be back in the mid-1980s - when visionary Pat Roy Mooney of ETC Group gave Maine and Maritime Canadian organic farmers our first heads up about Monsanto and their NEW advancing, virtually-totally-unregulated contaminating technology he termed 'genetic engineering.'  As seed growers, we understood what was in store for agriculture with the coming contamination catastrophe created by Monsanto’s GE crops.

        In more recent years, Monsanto has lied and connived their way to referendum "victories" - that is, staving off for the time being, mandatory GMO Labeling almost universally demanded by citizens in our free society.   Intoxicated with a misanthropic striving towards power and control, even breaking the law in the pursuit of greed was not beneath Monsanto.

        After one such hollow election "victory," one Monsanto operative, in an unguarded moment, let slip his frustration to the press: "Every time we win, we lose."  This phrase of hapless exasperation and galactic sanction may well earn center stage on Monsanto's corporate tombstone.

        It has now recently been announced, no doubt to Monsanto's unending horror, mega mega food conglomerate Del Monte will be joining the Campbell's Soup and General Mills bandwagon in just-saying-no to GMOs.

        After many decades of wicked and despicable behavior, Monsanto is now most often described as the world's most hated corporation.  Monsanto has absolutely earned this dubious recognition.  And it's welcome to witness justice starting to be served, at long last.    

Click Here for our Wood Prairie Organic Cover Crop Seed.

Notable Quotes: Edmund Burke on Evil.

Recipe: Crispy Smashed Roasted Potatoes.

12-15 small Dark Red Norland or Yukon Gold potatoes
Sea Salt
1/2 c extra-virgin olive oil

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with at least an inch of water. Boil, reduce to simmer, and cook until the potatoes are completely tender and easily pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes.

Place the cooked potatoes on a clean dishtowel. Let them drain and sit for a minute or two. Fold another dishtowel into quarters, and using it as a cover, gently press down on one potato with the palm of your hand to flatten it to a thickness of about 1/2-inch. Repeat with all of the potatoes.

Cover a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil; put a sheet of parchment on top of the foil. Carefully transfer the flattened potatoes to the baking sheet and let them cool completely at room temperature. If working ahead, refrigerate for up to 8 hours.

Heat oven to 450 F. Sprinkle the potatoes with about 3/4 tsp salt and pour olive oil over them. Lift the potatoes gently to make sure some of the oil goes underneath. Roast until they are crisp and deep brown around the edges., 30 - 40 minutes, turning over once gently with a spatula halfway through cooking. Serve hot.
Serves 8


- Megan & Angie

Crispy Smashed Roasted Potatoes.
Photo by Angela Wotton.

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