Wood Prairie Seed Piece
             Organic News and Commentary
                     Friday, June 03, 2016
                       Volume 24 Issue 12


 In This Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:

      Organic Rising.

     New Garden Harvest. Our friend, Alan Boutiller of StarLight Farm in North Carolina, shared with us this beautiful photograph taken of his early garden harvest.  Those awesome All-Blues, Cranberry Reds and Carolas were all grown from our Wood Prairie Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes.  These three delectable potato varieties are among those we still have in-stock.  All organic seed potatoes now ready to ship with a quick turnaround.
We hope your plantings and crops are growing well wherever you have your farm or garden.

 Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
 Wood Prairie Family Farm
 Bridgewater, Maine
Click here for the Wood Prairie Family Farm Home Page.

America's Organic Hotspots. Clusters of Contiguous Counties Where Organic is King.
Organic Hot Spots Discovered!

     Imagine a farm production system which is sustainable and builds up soil over the long term, produces healthy food for families and is good for the environment.  Now add to this remarkable ag system the economic benefits of significantly higher income and lowered rates of poverty.   Turns out organic farming does all these valuable things and more!

       New conclusive research by Penn State Ag Economist Edward Jaenicke has uncovered significant economic benefits that are generated by organic farming.  In his Organic Hotspots White Paper describing his startling findings, Dr. Jaenicke identifies 225 organic-centric clustered-counties nationwide as “Organic Hotspots.”

       Not only is organic good agriculture but organic also significantly increases rural income and reduces poverty.  So strong are these economic benefits - more powerful than many anti-poverty programs - that increasing organic farming should be employed by regional planners as an effective rural economic development tool.

     "The recently completed White Paper, titled 'U.S. Organic Hotspots and their Benefit to Local Economies,' was prepared for the Organic Trade Association (OTA) by Penn State Agricultural Economist Dr. Edward Jaenicke. It finds organic hotspots–counties with high levels of organic agricultural activity whose neighboring counties also have high organic activity–boost median household incomes by an average of $2,000 and reduce poverty levels by an average of 1.3 percentage points.

     "Organic activity was found to have a greater beneficial economic effect than that of general agriculture activity, and even more of a positive impact than some major anti-poverty programs at the county level.”

Organic farming: good for you, good for the environment, good for the economy.

Jim & Megan

Click Here for Our Wood Prairie Organic Cover Crop Seed.
Special Offer: FREE Organic Maine Certified New! Yukon Gem Seed Potatoes.

      One of the new varieties we have been growing in our Experimental Plots is one we believe you will want to pay attention to and try out.  This new variety is Yukon Gem, a cross between the familiar and famous Yukon Gold and Brodick, a Scottish variety.

     While - of course - similar in many respects to its parent, Yukon Gem has some distinctive and impressive attributes, including increased disease resistance.  Compared to Yukon Gold, Yukon Gem is higher yielding and more resistant to Potato Scab and foliar & tuber Potato Late Blight.  Yukon Gem is a late variety and exhibits long dormancy in storage – making it an extra good keeper.  In the kitchen, Yukon Gem’s specific gravity is low (moist) and its taste is good.

   We still have good supplies of most Organic Certified Seed Potato varieties in-stock, including Yukon Gem.  Call us!

    We’ll make it easy for you to give Yukon Gem a try in your garden THIS YEAR on us!

     Earn yourself a FREE One-Pound Sack of Organic Yukon Gem Certified Seed Potatoes (Value $11.95) when the amount of goods in your next order totals $25 or more. Please use Promo Code WPF488.

    Earn yourself a FREE Two-and-a-Half Pound Sack of Organic Yukon Gem Certified Seed Potatoes (Value $16.95) when the amount of goods in your next order totals $39 or more.  Please use Promo Code WPF489.
     Earn yourself a FREE Five-Pound Sack of Organic Yukon Gem Certified Seed Potatoes (Value $22.95) when the amount of goods in your next order totals $59 or more.  Please use Promo Code WPF490.

Our FREE Organic Yukon Gem Certified Seed Potato Offers ends Midnight Monday, June 6 and entire order must ship by June 17 - so please hurry!

Questions? Call us at Wood Prairie Family Farm (207) 429-9765.

Click Here for Our Wood Prairie Garden Tools Section.

Yukon Gem
. New good tasting and disease-resistant golden-fleshed variety.

Roasted Potatoes. Not all potatoes are equal when it comes to roasting - or boiling..
Diving Into Potato Texture.

     Gain an understanding of potato texture and you will remove the mystery from the culinary side of potatoes.  Many years ago Megan put together our concise and classic Wood Prairie Potato Texture Cooking Guide in an effort to explain this all-important potato texture phenomenon.

      Now, a new piece from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) will benefit cooks and the curious with an expanded explanation on potato texture.  The BBC article is entitled, The Surprisingly Complex Chemistry of the Humble Spud.    It expertly elaborates on the varied behaviors exhibited by different varieties of potatoes during the cooking process, based on the character of the starch by which they are constituted.

     "Baked, mashed, boiled, fried – in a general sense, it's hard to do potatoes wrong. There's something about the fluffiness of a well-baked potato, the crunch of a nice chip, the creaminess of mash (the best recipe I know: keep adding butter until it stops being absorbed) that warms the heart, as well as the taste buds.

      "But if you've ever chosen the wrong potato for the job, chances are you know it. It may not be the kind of thing explained to you in school, but anyone who's tried to fry red potatoes or make salad with russets knows, not all spuds are created equal. Some of them – to put this mildly, as my smoke detector did not – are not meant for frying."

After reading these two pieces you will come away with good understanding.  You will never look at a potato in the same way again!

Jim & Megan

Click Here for our Wood Prairie Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes.

The Vikings' Remarkable Reliance on Wool.

  We found this fascinating article, No Wool, No Vikings, a real eye-opener.  Relating a hands-on contemporary experience, it explains the tightly-woven, integral relationship Vikings had with North Atlantic sheep's wool.   Wool was essential not only for clothing in the harsh Nordic climate, but also as the raw material for crafting the square sails that powered their massive fleets of sea-faring boats.

 "A desire to understand the role of wool in Viking life and culture—and in their pursuit of land and wealth as far abroad as Constantinople and Newfoundland—has drawn me to Norway. Braute, built in the tradition of a 17th-century fishing boat, not much different from the boats the Vikings sailed, may be my best chance to experience Viking life—both the wild and the wooly...

    "In 1989, workers repairing the roof of a medieval church in Trondenes in northern Norway found pieces of 600-year-old woolen sailcloth stuffed into the attic. While it dates from about three centuries after the height of the Vikings’ dominance, it belongs to the same sailing tradition. Chemists, historians, textile experts, and archaeologists have pored over the chunk of fabric. They learned it was a variation of wadmal, the basic woolen cloth woven for everyday use throughout the North Atlantic region, from Viking days right through the Middle Ages. The wool itself came from northern European short-tailed sheep—the kind the Vikings kept. Jørgensen says their unusual coat was a key element in making woolen sails...

     "But they need a mind-boggling quantity of wool...Researchers at the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark, calculated that by the mid-11th century, the Viking fleet—fishing boats, coastal traders, cargo ships, and longships—carried roughly one million square meters of sail, requiring the equivalent of all the wool produced in one year by about two million sheep...”

We think you will find this excellent piece well worth your time!

Jim & Megan

Click Here for our Wood Prairie Certified Organic Vegetable Seed.

Wool & Vikings. Thousands of years of close interaction.
Notable Quote: Robert Frost on Fences.

Recipe: Rhubarb Ginger Oat Squares.

2 c chopped rhubarb
3 thin slices of fresh ginger
1 c sugar
1 c water

Combine the rhubarb, fresh ginger, sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until the rhubarb has softened and is falling apart, about 15 minutes. Strain into a bowl pressing on the rhubarb and ginger to release the juices. Pour the strained rhubarb-ginger syrup into a bottle or jar and refrigerate. (Save the syrup and use as sauce over ice cream or mix with seltzer for a refreshing drink) Allow the rhubarb pulp to cool. Remove and discard the sliced ginger.

Preheat oven to 350 F

1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of sea salt
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/2 c light brown sugar
1/2 c chopped walnuts
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into chunks

Combine the oats, flour, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, brown sugar, walnuts, and butter in a bowl. Work with your fingers to a crumbly texture.

Butter a 9x9 square baking dish. Pour 3/4 of the oat mixture into the dish and press firmly to cover the bottom of the dish. Spread the rhubarb pulp over this and then top with the remaining 1/4 of the oat mixture.

Bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool and then slice into squares.

Delicious summer treat.


Rhubarb Ginger Oat Squares.
Photo by Angela Wotton.

Our Mailbox: Organic As Positive Good and GMO Gene Spread Inevitable.

Organic As Positive Good.

Dear WPF. 

     I think developing additional marketing strategies should be a high priority. Consumers are creatures of habit and will continue to shop at their routine choices. Those choices are supermarkets with thin margins. They pay wholesale to the farmers, but farmers need something between wholesale and retail, or they need higher prices if they only slel a few items as at a farmer's market. We need massive direct sales. Some farmers do it right from their farm because they are located to heavily populated areas. Others drive many miles to sell to CSA customers. That isn't enough to displace a significant part of the supermarket sales.


WPF Replies.

     The power of the organic Hot Spots White Paper is that it has the power to help shift the conservation away from the tiresome, relentless self-serving attacks on organic by Industrial Ag. The fact that organic farming actually has been documented to benefit rural economies is a positive good that everyone can and should get behind.

     Yes, the reality of inadequate farm gate prices must be addressed. It is clear that organic family farmers continue to struggle financially and they should receive economic justice. A bushel of Certified Organic soybeans for which the farm gate price is $20, then made into Certified Organic Soy Milk, is worth $500 of soy milk at retail. Justice would dictate that farmer should receive a higher percentage of the overall retail price. The system should pay that farmer at least $5 or $10 per bushel more for her foundational contribution to the organic community.


GMO Gene Spread Inevitable.

Dear WPF. 

     Now in lawns. Roundup Ready Kentucky Bluegrass: Benefits and Risks. "In the summer of 2011 Scott's turf company announced the release of the first genetically engineered turfgrass. Scott's chose to genetically engineer Kentucky bluegrass, a widely used lawn grass, to be resistant to glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in the common non-selective herbicide Roundup."


WPF Replies.

     This allowance of GMO grass will be a predictable future contamination-disaster because it has already happened. Spread of GMO grass genes is "inevitable": "In any case, it is highly unlikely that spread of the GMO bluegrass could be prevented. An Ohio State University scientist noted in the Dispatch article that heavier pollen from bluegrass is not as likely to spread as lighter bentgrass pollen, which escaped from an Oregon field trial at distances in excess of 20 kilometers. But spread it will, even if at a somewhat slower rate than bentgrass. A report 10 years ago from the National Research Council noted that gene spread from commercialed GMOs is virtually inevitable.


 Jim & Megan Gerritsen
 Wood Prairie Family Farm
 49 Kinney Road
 Bridgewater, Maine 04735
 (207) 429 - 9765 Certified Organic, Direct from the Farm