Friday May 02, 2014
Issue of The Seed Piece:
Up to Spring.
Gone, Inching Along. Our Precipitation last week was snow
(above) but this week is rain.
a record cold March (9ºF below 30 year average), our April was cool -
the coolest since 2007 – but not nearly as extreme as March.
unusually deep Winter snow pack has over the last month cleared out
from most of the open ground. Exceptions are the woods and
of fields. Both of our ponds still are covered in solid ice.
Mark Fulford, our highly observant farmer friend in central Maine says
soil is cold and leaf development on apple trees down his way this year
is 10-11 days behind last year - which was also a cold
One local farmer monitors ice-out on the nearby St. John
He says a month after ice-out the ground is fit to plant potatoes.
Ice-out was late this year and pegs potato
The old time
farmers in these parts always said that when the last of the snow left
the woods that is time to plant potatoes. Now that our
have become later, that woods snow typically leaves around mid-May.
While that ground gets ready we're still shipping seed potatoes and now
gearing up for planting.
Megan Gerritsen & Family
Click here for the
Wood Prairie Farm Home Page.
| Maine Tales. Wood Prairie
Farmers Invade New York City. New York. Circa 2014.
York City is just shy of 600 miles and 11 hours driving time from
Aroostook County, Maine. America’s Earth Day is April 22, as is
International Mother Earth Day, celebrated at the United Nations. In
1820, the State of Maine gained independence from Massachusetts and the
‘District of Maine’ was a name heard no more.
disparate facts aligned themselves last week with a ‘farmer vacation’
(translation: pretty short). School kids in the State of
receive as Spring Break that one April week which contains ‘Patriot’s
Day’ when citizens of just two States – Maine and Massachusetts – honor
the American Revolution. And not coincidentally, one State holds its
‘Boston Marathon.’ Our country’s founders had given us our
So bright and early last week on Patriot’s
Day, Jim, accompanied by daughters Sarah (15) and Amy (11) were driving
south on I-95, NYC bound. It was to be the girl’s first time
the Big Apple. The occasion was the commemoration of
International Mother Earth Day with the 4th Interactive Dialogue
of the United Nations General Assembly on Harmony with Nature.
Jim had been invited to speak as one of four invited panel
guests. His speech was entitled Advantages and Challenges of
Organic Farming: A Farming System Based on Harmony with Nature.
left with the ink on Jim’s speech still wet.
time at the United Nations and Midtown East were supplanted by visits
to Times Square and Union Square and the Earth Day premier theater film
screening of Sean Kaminsky’s excellent new crowdfunded film, Open
Sesame: The Story of Seed.
When asked what they most enjoyed most about New York City, conveying
farmer honesty, they both agreed, “Times Square and that movie.”
here the United Nation’s video coverage of the 4th Interactive Dialogue
and Jim’s speech (beginning at minute
32:00). Also, Jim’s
interview on United Nation’s Radio may be found here.
Find Jim’s reference to the World
People’s Conference on Climate Change
and the Rights of Mother Earth policy here: Universal
Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth.
Linked here is the important book referenced in Jim’s concluding
remarks: Nature’s Trust – Environmental
Law for a New Ecological Age by Dr. Mary Christina Wood.
Below are highlights from for Jim’s speech before the United
Nations. The speech in it's entirety may be found here.
Jim & Megan
Speaking at the UN..
was four years ago that Bolivia hosted the landmark World People’s
Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother
Earth. It was at this conference where the
Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth was articulated
and approved by delegates. As an organic farmer, I believe
remarkable document clearly expresses the peoples’ proper relationship
with, and responsibilities to, Mother Earth....
"There is one more
reason I am grateful, and this reason is more of a personal
nature. I have gratitude to the Bolivians, and along with
your neighbors in Peru, in Chile, and in Ecuador, for your most
generous gift, given to the Commons - given to the world’s people - and
that is the wonderful food we call potatoes. It is
you - and your ancestors spanning the last 7000 years – who have
developed and selected and protected the crop which the world now
recognizes as Andean potatoes. My family makes our living from growing
your Andean potatoes on our farm. Before me, my father and my
grandfather grew potatoes on their farm. We thank
your gift to the world. Andean potatoes are the world’s fourth most
important food crop after maize, rice and wheat...
Harmony with Nature.
organic farm is full of life: of soil life, plant life, animal and
human life. Traditional human knowledge, elevating skills of husbandry
and stewardship are recognized, valued and honored. Organic
systems are biased towards long-term benefit and stability...
Are Political and Economic.
we may agree organic farming predicated on harmony with nature is our
best choice going forward. Yet, organic farming does have
challenges. These challenges are primarily political and
in nature. They originate with powerful forces
give up wrested control and a risky focus on the short term gain.
offer one example of challenges, we are seed growers carrying on
a tradition of improving, selecting
multiplying seed, a practice
has been in control of farmers
millennia. That is, for 10,000 years –
humankind began to farm - seed has been a genetic resource
jointly owned by the people and therefore a part of the
Commons. In recent decades, however,
corporations have increasingly taken control of world seed
resources, aided by political decisions which sanction theft
the Commons via a new concept of patents on life forms...
how do we implement harmony with nature? I believe
of the Public Trust Doctrine will be helpful. The Public
Doctrine – which goes back to Roman times - establishes as primary, the
protection of Mother Earth. It holds that government simply
not possess the authority to sell or “privatize” the
Commons. For example, the Public Trust Doctrine
government does not have the right to sell to a factory, via a permit
process, the power to pollute the Commons, the water or air.
does it have the right to sell a government sanctioned monopoly – which
is what a patent essentially is – to a
which takes an asset,
seed, from the Commons. Lacking
these actions are illegitimate..."
[Click here to read more of Jim's United Nations speech]
Prairie Farmer Jim Gerritsen.
Speaking at the Untied Nations on International Mother Earth Day.
Mother Robyn O'Brien. Don't
miss her TEDx talk!
| Clear Thinker:
Robyn O'Brien on Real Food.
You will not want to miss this heartfelt personal story of
how a mother with a past career on Wall Street found herself
a good food advocate.
Robyn McCord O’Brien
tells her tale in this powerful TEDx
video presentation (18:26). You
will be glad you took the time to watch this excellent talk. It will
inspire you as to what we as individuals can accomplish.
I met Robyn in
person for the first time last Winter and she is the real deal. You will see she is
authentic, articulate and
delivers convincing insight. Do NOT miss!
Click Here for
Organic Wood Prairie Farm organic Vegetable Seed.
| Notable Quotes:
Speaking the truth.
by Angela Wotton
Hearty Shepherd's Pie
14 T butter
2 lbs lamb shoulder (or beef), trimmed and cut into 1/2" cubes
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots,
2 T Whole Wheat
1 1/2 c beef stock or water
1 T worcestershire sauce
1 T finely chopped rosemary leaves
1 T finely chopped thyme leaves
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 c frozen peas, thawed
3 large Butte potatoes (about 2 lbs), peeled and quartered
1/2 c half-and-half
2 T of the butter in a large pot over high heat. Add one-third of the
lamb or beef and brown on all sides, 4-5 minutes. Transfer lamb to a
plate and repeat the process two more times, using 2 T of the butter
each batch. Add onion and carrots to pot, reduce heat to medium, and
cook until softened, scraping up any browned bits, 3-4 minutes. Return
lamb or beef and its juices to pot along with flour and cook, stirring
frequently, for 1 minute. Stir in stock or water, worcestershire,
rosemary, thyme, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil
and then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until meat is tender, about
40 minutes. Uncover pot and simmer, stirring often, until thickened,
about 35 minutes more. Remove from heat, stir in peas and set aside.
put potatoes into a large pot and cover with salted water; bring to a
boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until tender, 20-25 minutes.
Drain and add 6 T of butter, half-and-half, salt and pepper to taste.
Mash smooth with a potato masher.
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Transfer meat and vegetable mixture to a 2-quart casserole dish. Top
evenly with mashed potatoes. Cut remaining 2 T butter into small cubes;
scatter over potatoes. Bake until golden brown and bubbling, about 30
One of our family's favorites. Megan.
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Our Mailbox: Seed
Exempt from Patenting, Nullifying Hemp Ban, Time to Fight for Organic.
Seed Exempt from
Did you see this article Plant
Breeders Release First 'Open Source Seeds'?
New York, NY
Yes, thanks for sharing. The dedicated folks
good allies in our organic seed community. The design is to begin to
regain control of the seed supply in the Commons by introducing new
Plant varieties which are purposefully protected and made exempt from
two organic seed companies mentioned in the article are members of
Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) of which I serve as
Nullifying Hemp Ban.
Excellent news for Tennessee
farmers I just hope it's organic! Tennessee effectively nullifies
federal hemp ban.
World Wide Web
I recently enjoyed viewing the 'industrial hemp'
documentary film Bringing it
Home. The showing was hosted by the
filmmaker, Linda Booker. The film is a great eye opener and society
will be better off if farmers are allowed to grow hemp sooner than
later. Bringing it Home
Movie | A documentary film about industrial hemp.
Time to Fight For
have always been very conflicted about the National Organic Program. I
think people should rely on their own relationships with their
suppliers whenever possible. That is obviously tough to do across 3,000
miles, but real farmers put the "grit" in integrity!
The reality is our organic community should have
organic certification because consumers need it. I have served on the
MOFGA Certification Committee - and
also the OCIA-NB Cert Comm - for over two decades. Let me try to put
the current USDA
power grab crisis into perspective.
The organic community started up private systems
voluntary organic certification programs in the 1970s. This
certification was invented to provide assurance to the organic consumer
and level the playing field for farmers. The process resulted in a
worked and reworked and reworked yet again refinement of what in fact
became a functional definition of regionally-adapted acceptable organic
production practices and allowable inputs. In order to meet those
consumer assurance and level playing field goals, a definition is
necessary plus a structural framework to protect and refine the
definition - as well as protect the eaters and honest
By the mid to late 1980s the USDA
was receiving tremendous pressure from various State Departments of
Agriculture who were demanding that the USDA step up and facilitate
interstate commerce and invent a single national organic certification
system. The organic community was horrified by the prospect of USDA -
which had a history of hatred for the concept of organic farming -
inventing a definition of organic on its own and potentially resulting
in the collapse of our industry. So the organic community reluctantly
became involved in
developing language in an effort to save itself and the interests of
Political allies of the organic community -
Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Rep. Peter DeFazio of OR became the chief
sponsors of the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) which eventually
passed as part of the 1990 Farm Bill.
The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) was invented as
citizen oversight board - enabled by the OFPA. It serves as the
the organic community to interact with the USDA. This increasing trend
of USDA reducing the autonomy and functioning of the NOSB, weaking the
organic standards, and facilitating increased corporate control of the
NOSB by outside conglomerates is unacceptable.
Organic community articulation of this USDA power
grab has now been joined by standup members of the NOSB and the
legislation sponsors Leahy and DeFazio. This is now the time for the
authentic organic community to come together to protect ourselves.
Particularly in the context of the consolidation of corporate control
over our government and economy we must not let USDA transform the NOSB
into a faint shadow of it's great potential. It's now or never. It's
fight for organic.
|Wood Prairie Farm Quick
& Megan Gerritsen
Certified Organic, Direct from the Farm