Wood Prairie Farm
 The Seed Piece Newsletter
             Organic News and Commentary
                  Friday May 30, 2014

 In This Issue of The Seed Piece:

    Moving Right Along.

     Before and After.  Our main farm tractor is a 92 HP 1967 Oliver 1850 Diesel with a super slow creeper gear.  Above is how it looks today, amidst Spring planting, hooked up to our two-row tuber unit potato planter.
     Below is how the ‘tractor’ looked in our shop just about a month ago.  It had been torn down to the barest frame to get at the transmission fifth gear which had seized on the pinion shaft.
     Everything in its time. It took most of the Winter to get our 2013-harvested seed potato crop graded out and shipped.  As the dust began to settle in April, our diesel mechanic son, Caleb, tore the 1850 down, ordered new parts and put it all back together. More or less, right on schedule.
     Now after another slow, cold and wet Maine Spring, the ground has warmed and dried to the point where we are in the potato planting business.
     We hope you are on high ground and your Spring is going well, too.


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

Click here for the Wood Prairie Farm Home Page.
Landmark Election: Two Oregon Counties Vote Overwhelmingly to Ban GE Crops.
    In a major victory and stunning repudiation of a high finance out-of-state Biotech misinformation campaign designed to buy favorable election results, voters in two southern Oregon counties have decided to protect family farmers by banning the planting and cultivation of GE crops in their locales.  These two landmark elections were the subject of an article in the last issue of the Wood Prairie Seed Piece.

   The two Rogue River counties – Jackson and Josephine - comprise a major world class seed growing region.  Organic and non GE seed family farmers sought protection from unwanted GE contamination which originates in fields planted with patented GE seed owned by Biotech corporations.

   The  two Oregon election races had been closely watched all across the nation.  Local family farmers growing organic and non-GE crops – exasperated at the arrogance and recalcitrance of multi-national Biotech seed corporations who turned a deaf ear to complaints about their irresponsible contamination – went directly to voters seeking protection by creating outright bans of the polluting crops.  Among the leaders of the diverse movement were organic farmers and members of the national trade group, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA).

   Jackson County’s right to ban GE crops had been clearly decided last year by the Oregon legislature when its prohibition ability was provided grandfathering status in a legally questionable bill pushed by Biotech which removed local control from counties.  Neighboring Josephine County, after having passed its own GE crop ban, must now undergo Court review before its law may take effect.

   Meanwhile, malevolent Biotech bullies – chaffing at their loss by a democratic vote - are threatening legal action to overturn the will of the people.  GE Ban supporters are ready and remain confident the language of their law will stand up to legal scrutiny.

Out-of-state Biotech and industrial ag corporations had poured nearly $1 million into Jackson County alone in a massive TV ad and robo call misinformation campaign aimed at scaring and confusing voters. Jackson County has just 117,650 registered voters. The landslide Jackson County vote was 66% Yes; 34% No.  Josephine County supported their ban with a strong vote of 58% Yes and 42% No.


Click Here for More Information on the Battle Against GE Crops.

Jackson and Josephine Counties Take Charge. Citizens in both counties vote to protect family farmers. (Artwork by Jack Wiens)


Open Seed Source Initiative Open for Business.
The organic seed community has now released its revolutionary Open Source Seed system designed to circumvent patents on seed. The fruits of the Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI) were unveiled last month in a ceremony at University of Wisconsin, Madison.

    The Open Seed Source Initiative Pledge is honest, straightforward and disarmingly simple.

OSSI Pledge

This Open Source Seed pledge is intended to ensure your freedom to use the seed contained herein in any way you choose, and to make sure those freedoms are enjoyed by all subsequent users. By opening this packet, you pledge that you will not restrict others’ use of these seeds and their derivatives by patents, licenses, or any other means. You pledge that if you transfer these seeds or their derivatives they will also be accompanied by this pledge.

     The OSSI was a multi-year collaborative effort of many individuals involved in organic and traditional seed breeding including past OSGATA President Frank Morton of Wild Garden Seed, Dr Jim Myers of OSU Corvallis, and Dr Bill Tracy, Dr Irwin Golman and Dr Jack Kloppenburg, all of UW Madison.   

     Master writer Lisa Hamilton has crafted Linux for Lettuce, the definitive article about OSSI’s determined mission to protect seed in the Commons and re-institute collaboration among seed breeders. This work is a must read article for all gardeners, farmers and Americans. 

    From Hamilton’s article, Linux for Lettuce, “Most classical plant breeders will tell you that their work is inherently collaborative—the more people involved, the better...Myers contends that, when applied to plants, patents are stifling. They discourage sharing, and sharing is the foundation of successful breeding. That’s because his work is essentially just assisting natural evolution...'It’s this collective sharing of material that improves the whole crop over time,' Myers told me. 'If you’re not exchanging germplasm, you’re cutting your own throat.'"

     In celebration of the OSSI birth, a collection of 15 packets of OSSI varieties is being offered to the public for a donation of $25.  Already over 300 people have responded to this unique offer.

     Lisa Hamilton should be a name familiar to all.  She is author of the highly acclaimed book, 'Deeply Rooted' which examines the lives of three multi-generational cutting edge sustainable farms in North Dakota, New Mexico and Texas. The family farm highlighted from North Dakota are our friend’s, the organic seed growing Podoll’s, from whom we get our Sweet Dakota Bliss Beet and Uncle David’s Dakota Dessert Squash certified organic seed.

Jim & Megan

Click Here for Wood Prairie Farm Certified Organic Vegetable Seed.
Organic Farmer Steve Marsh Denied Justice by Australian Court.
     Steve Marsh is the courageous organic farmer near Kojonup in Western Australia who in 2010 had his farm contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically engineered canola.  As a result of the GE contamination incident, organic certification was revoked from 70% of Steve’s farm, extinguishing the marketability of his organic crops and placing his family farm at great risk of bankruptcy. Steve decided to fight back.

   Steve’s lawsuit to recover damages has been a case monitored internationally.   The verdict handed down this week denies Steve the justice he sought: reimbursement for monetary damages and a permanent injunction to prevent future damage from GE pollution.

   The court failed to recognize the decertification decision of organic certifier NASAA, and therefore ignored the extreme financial loss experienced by Steve and his wife, Susan.  The unwanted GE contamination, from a GE Canola crop owned by Monsanto and farmed by his neighbor, Michael Baxter, represented an unrestrained nuisance and negligent behavior which caused damage to the farmers and prevented full use of their farm.
   The Marshs were forced to seek damages from neighbor Baxter because carefully crafted Monsanto Licensing Agreements absolve the notorious multinational Biotech corporation from legal liability and instead shifts all responsibility for their faulty product to Monsanto's farmer-customers. The result of this denial of justice is that the Marshs face an uncertain future and their ability to continue organic farming lies in jeopardy. Details and analysis of the ruling may be found in articles from Reuters and Sustainable Pulse.

   Steve's fight had loomed large as a battle on behalf of organic farmers everywhere facing contamination threats by Biotech crops. This ruling represents another significant blow to organic and non-GE farmers who in recent years have been seeking judicial recognition of their right-to-farm free of trespass and invasion by unwanted GE crops.  It is widely believed by supporters of the Marshs that Monsanto served as proxy and financed the legal defense for Mr. Baxter.

    The Marshs and their lawyers have 21 days in which to file an Appeal. Find the link to the six-page Judgment Summary here. The full 150 page ruling itself may be found here.

   We remain in contact with Marsh supporters in Australia.  Our friends at the Safe Food Foundation in Australia have established a fund to help the Marshs cope with this contamination event and to help them maintain the ability to continue farming. Please contribute if you can.

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

         Steve Marsh Battles Monsanto. Power and money trump justice.
Notable Quotes: JFK on Revolution.

Fresh and Delicious From the Garden.
Photo by Angela Wotton
Recipe: Olive Oil Braised Spring Vegetables

1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
1/4 lb baby carrots, cut into bite-friendly segments
1/4 lb baby potatoes, cut into bite-friendly segments
2 baby fennel, trimmed and quartered
1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
6 small spring onions (or scallions), trimmed
1/2 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into segments
1 lemon, cut into small wedges, deseeded

Add the olive oil to a large skillet over med-low heat. The pan needs to be hot enough to cook the vegetables, but not hot enough to brown them. Add carrots, potatoes, fennel, and salt to the pan and allow to cook for a few minutes. Add the onions, then cover and cook for another 10-15 minutes, until vegetables are just cooked through. A minute before the carrots and potatoes are cooked, add the asparagus and a few of the lemon wedges to the pan. Cook just until it brightens, and is barely tender.

Remove from heat and sprinkle with thyme or dill, and serve with remaining lemon wedges. The vegetables are good hot or at room temperature.

Serves 4-6


Special Offer: FREE Sack of Organic Seed Potatoes.

     In most of the North there is still plenty of time to plant Organic Certified Seed Potatoes.  And we still have good supplies of many excellent varieties.  Even if you have already planted your main potato crop, you may have a garden patch leftover.  This could be a great location for planting extra potatoes to store up for your family’s use next winter or to sell at the local farmer’s market.

     Here's your chance to earn yourself a FREE 2.5 lbs. Sack of Organic Certified Seed Potatoes (Value $16.95) when the amount of goods in your next order is $45 or more.  FREE Organic Certified Seed Potatoes offer ends Midnight Monday, June 2, 2014, so better hurry!

      Please use Promo Code WPF1178. Your order must ship with FREE Organic Certified Seed Potatoes and entire order must ship by 6/13/14. This offer may not be combined with other offers.  Please call or click today!  Wood Prairie Farm (800) 829-9765.

Click Here for Our Wood Prairie Farm Organic Certified Seed Potato Section.

FREE Organic Seed Potatoes. There's still time to plant!
Our Mailbox: Heirloom Chippewa, Serious But Not Lost, Not Early Blight.

Heirloom Chippewa.

Dear WPF.

What do you know about Chippewa potatoes? A farmer friend raves about them but hasn't been able to find any.

Thanks for any info.

Oxford CT

WPF Replies.

     Chippewa is an heirloom round white potato variety released by USDA in 1933. It's early and high yielding. Tubers are oblong and low in solids ('low gravity'). It used to be a commercial variety grown in the Northeast and is known to do well on muck soils. It hasn't been grown as Certified Seed in Maine for many years. If you check with NY State seed certification officials you may get lucky and be able to locate some certified seed from your neighbors in the Empire State. This link has a photo purported to be some Chippewas. Jim.

Serious But Not Lost.

Dear WPF.

     I am interested in buying several varieties of your potatoes for growing. I am currently looking for acres of land to grow my crops on; however, I am finding it difficult to locate an area far enough away from GM crops! As you know, GM crops can blow onto other farmers' fields causing cross-pollination and GMO infection of once organic crops.

     Your answer would be most appreciated and very valuable to me! It is increasingly difficult to find ANY farm that sells certified organic, non-GMO seeds and products in general!

Fountain City WI
WPF Replies.

     First, potatoes are vegetatively propagated from annually grown seed tubers (small-sized potatoes) certified for freedom of disease content. While genetically engineered crops are grown on tens of millions of acres, the risk from contamination at this point are still limited to a handful of botanical families The situation is serious but is not lost. Here is a list of current GE crops 'approved' for growing by farmers in the US:

     Zea Mays: corn
     Glysine Max: soybeans
     Gossypium spp: cotton
     Medicago sativa: alfalfa
     Beta vulgaris: sugar beet, table beet, swiss chard
     Curcubita pepo: summer squash/zucchini, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, striped/warty gourds
     Brassica napus: canola, rutabega, siberian kale

     Monsanto's New Leaf GE potatoes were voluntarily removed from the US market over ten years ago. Even if there were GE potatoes being grown today because of their vegetative propagation, potatoes would not be subject to contamination by pollen drift.
     Oats and wheat are just two of many crops which have not had a GE version approved for farmers to grow. There are many more.

Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) is the organic seed industry trade organization and I am OSGATA president. Here is the pertinent OSGATA's policy:

OSGATA Policy on Genetically Engineered (GE) Seed
Contamination of organic seed by genetically engineered (GE) seed - commonly referred to as GMOs - constitutes irreparable harm to the organic seed industry and undermines the integrity of organic seed. Any detectable level is unacceptable.

Wood Prairie Farm adheres strictly to this excellent policy and does not sell any seed with detectible GE content.

Do check with each seed company you contemplate purchasing from as to their adoption of this Policy and their specific protocol for testing for GE content of at-risk varieties.

Here is a link of OSGATA member-companies: https://www.osgata.org/members/


Not Early Blight.

Dear WPF.

     Jim - I know how busy you are, and I hate to bother you with a question, but I thought you'd be the best source of info on this. I found diseased leaves on two tomato plants today. They look similar to various fungal diseases that we get on tomatoes around here, but I wouldn't have expected anything like this now, as conditions haven't been good for disease development. I'm scrupulous about crop rotation, and of course I have your excellent certified seed potatoes. So this really baffles me. I also found a couple of plants in another bed (not close to the one with the diseased leaves) that are wilty with yellowing on lower leaves. Here are pictures so you can see what I'm talking about. I will really appreciate it if you can help me diagnose the problem so that I can know what course of action to take. I'm pretty sure that it's early blight / alternaria, but please correct me if I'm wrong. I've had it on tomatoes but never on potatoes, so I didn't expect it.

Russiaville IN

WPF Replies.

    Early blight on potatoes does not look like the problem in your photo. EB on potatoes is distinctive and seen as brown discoloration in concentric circles (bulls eye) usually beginning towards the center of the leaf, not the edge. Early blight in potatoes is opportunistic and occurs when potatoes are under stress. Twenty years ago we would sometimes get EB on late season potatoes in early August when the plant ran out of fertility. Since we've increased fertility with fish meal we've never had EB. Bottom line is I suggest you take samples of troubled tomato leaves to your Cooperative Extension service for identification. Then you will know what you are dealing with.


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