Issue of The Seed Piece:
Maine Tales: The Work of Heroes.
Maine Ranked As Most Peaceful State.
Special Offer: FREE Organic Potato Fertilizer
Mailbox: Potatoes Rule Potato Cahoots.
End of Winter.
Alternative to Ice Jams Against Bridges.
Circa World War I photo showing farmers in western Aroostook County
crossing the Aroostook River with a load of hay destined for work
horses in distant logging camps. Because of their
inaccessibility, logging operations represented a premium market for
oats and hay which were grown in rotation with potatoes.
The Work of Heroes.
Perth-Andover, New Brunswick, Canada.
It’s been about a month since the ice jam on the St John River caused
the nearby town of Perth-Andover, New Brunswick to flood in
historic proportions. Local blame swirls around suspicions of NB
Power’s downstream 60-year-old Beechwood hydroelectric dam and the
freakishly record warm spell
we had in March. Devastated residents are still waiting for the
deciders in the provincial government to determine whether their
low-lying homes and businesses will be re-located up to higher ground.
Virtually all of our Aroostook County, Maine
within the St. John watershed which means that if a raindrop falls in
Aroostook it will eventually end up in the Bay of Fundy courtesy of the
St John. For quite a ways up north, the St. John forms the boundary
between Maine and Canada. At our latitude the international
boundary lies to the west of the St John as the river begins to flow
towards the southeast and entirely within Canada until it empties into
the Atlantic Ocean. The early European settlers, both the Acadian
French and the English, primarily used the navigable St. John, and its
tributaries such as the Aroostook River, to extend their settlements
into the wilderness in order that future potato farmers would gain
access to good ground where they could clear off the trees and grow
their potato crops.
may be nothing new but unless you live in
the north, the floods caused by ice jams may be beyond not only your
own experience but also beyond your imagination. In the Spring, rapid
snowmelt waters snake their way into the St. John and flow along with
broken chunks of ice, some as large as boats. River obstructions like
intact river ice, river narrows or bridges can be problematic when the
ice begins to pile up and hold back the free flow of water. Classic ice
blockage of the water
flow, unprecedented in magnitude this year, caused St. John River
flooding in Perth-Andover
the worst on record.
Ice jams on the St. John and the resulting flooding
have certainly occurred before. One time, many years ago, the ice
lodged up against the upstream side of a railroad bridge and the water
rapidly started to back up. One quick thinking official ordered a
half dozen rail cars full of hundreds of tons of gravel to be rolled
onto the bridge so as to anchor and provide weight against
the mighty force of ice and water. The gamble paid off and the
until the ice jam relieved itself, broke up, and let the backed-up
flow once again. That decisive steel-nerved official instantly
local hero and a local legend.
Things did not go so well with the flood on
the St. John in the Spring of 1987. We’d had a deep snowpack that
Winter and moderate snow-melting rains that began towards the end of
March made for high water levels on all the local rivers. The
result was rapid ‘thermal decay’ of the river ice which caused the ice
pack to break up and move with the rapid flood waters. On the
morning of April 2, the river of ice quickly began to back up and
accumulate on the
bottom chord of the Canadian Pacific rail road bridge spanning the St.
John River in Perth-Andover. A student of local legends, perhaps
with dreams of becoming a hero himself, gave the crisp order and six
full of fertilizer were rushed into place on top of the bridge.
Three hours after the ice jam had first formed against the bridge, the
metal members of
the bridge finally gave way to weary fatigue and unceremoniously
collapsed into the river taking along with it all those rail cars
loaded with fertilizer.
There is no certainty in dealing with nature.
Decisions must be made, necessarily before the wisdom of those
or the lack thereof, becomes evident.
Now, another Spring is upon us and
planting is just ahead. Not the work of heroes perhaps, but good
Click here for
the Wood Prairie Farm Home Page
& Megan Gerritsen
Circa 1918. Four
Peaceful Sisters in Aroostook County, Maine.
Ranked Most Peaceful State
For the eleventh year running, our State of Maine
has been ranked
in the 2012 U.S. Peace Index as the country's 'Most
Peaceful' state. Neighbors Vermont and New Hampshire,
respectively follow at #2 and #3 and Louisianna came in at #50.
What criteria went into this annual ranking? Click
here for details.
You can use either waxy or floury potatoes.
don't need an egg yolk when mixed with the flour but floury potatoes
potatoes (about 1 lb), unpeeled (I used Prairie Blush)
pinch of sea
1 egg yolk (optional)
3/4 c Wood Prairie organic whole
wheat or spelt
2 tsp olive oil
4 T unsalted butter
salt and freshly ground pepper,
freshly grated parmesan cheese,
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
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
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
an egg yolk, make a well in the center of the potatoes and put the yolk
4. Sprinkle the potatoes with
some of the flour and slowly
work in. Repeat until all the flour has been added and the mixture
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
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
grating of Parmesan cheese.
New Basics Cookbook, by Julee Rosso and Sheila
Photo by Angela Wotton
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Mailbox: Potatoes Rule Potato Cahoots.
Potatoes That Excite North Dakota.
just wanted to let you know that my son, from North Dakota, called me
today very excited. He said that he had just received his potatoes and
was very happy with them, the pamplets, the growing
instructions, and the recipe booklet. He said that he could tell you
cared about your product and your customers.
We appreciate your business and your kind
Jim & Megan
Ruling That Ridicules.
Can that judge be thrown out? Did she really
ridicule the plaintiffs? On what basis does she think it's funny?
You can read the ruling for yourself here: https://www.woodprairie.com/downloads/OSGATA%20v%20Monsanto%20-%20MTD%20Decision.pdf.
We carefully choose 'ridicule' because that is the tone and content of
Assuming we win our Appeal, the Appelate court will send the case back
to Judge Buchwald. While some might consider this 'judge shopping'
Monsanto has already filed a motion for a change of
venue to move the case to Eastern District Missouri (St. Louis),
Monsanto's home turf. Once we do gain standing and get into Court we
have a strong case and with four seperate legal arguments we are
confidant we will be successful. We only need to succeed with one legal
argument to win
our case. Monsanto must defeat us on all four points in order for them
By the time our case is heard in Court it may be that Dr. Donald
research will be out and peer-reviewed and this truth spells trouble
to Dr. Huber Interview
Search For Standards.
Thanks for all the good info you've been sending out this winter. I am
wondering where I can get a copy of the national potato grading
standards as it relates to eating potatoes and seed potatoes. Thanks.
Glad you've been
getting some good out of our Seed Piece newsletters.
Here are the USDA
Standards for Grades of
Potatoes. This standard is for 'tablestock,' the American
potato trade term for
eating potatoes such as you would find in the grocery store.
In the United States
there is no single uniform
national grading standard for certified seed potatoes. Seed potato
certification systems exist at the individual state level, and as a
standards for certified seed potatoes are established by each state for
production within their respective statewide jurisdiction.
believe this lack of uniform national standards exists because of
rivalries between seed potato
producing states. The states with the best reputation for certified
potatoes - among them, Maine and Montana -
the market distinction and market recognition of their seed potato
As a result, the 'high quality' states are reluctant to help modify the
quo for fear that doing so will create loss of their identity and
market advantage. Essentially, what we have now for certified seed
a decentralized state-based quality standard where demand and price
advantage are determined
by the market. Here in Maine,
the view is don't fix what ain't broke.
In Cahoots With Monsanto.
Keep up the
work! The other day, while surfing the net, I was appalled to see
Bill Gates is in cahoots with Monsanto and third world nationals
they are feeding the hungry with Monsanto's wonderful GMO research
Those nations will lose so much more than a temporary fix on
hunger. I worry about all their regional seeds which have been
selectively propagated, through seed saving over generations, keeping
producers, the best tasting and the most nutritious for their
They could be lost forever! I am so thankful there are
you and all the organic gardeners and farmers who do want to feed their
families good, safe, nutritious foods. Greed is a pandemic which
potential to kill us all. Shame on you Monsanto and shame on Bill
When is enough, enough?
know I'm preaching to the choir, so to speak, but
REALLY? I just had to let you know I'm behind you all the way!
your potatoes! Can't wait to get them in the ground!
(It's still too early here.)
Appreciate your support. Jim.
Wood Prairie Farm Quick
& Megan Gerritsen
Certified Organic, Direct from the Farm