Wood Prairie Farm
 The Seed Piece Newsletter
             Organic News and Commentary
                   Thursday June 20, 2013

 In This Issue of The Seed Piece:

    Planting Done. Shifting Gears.

         The Morning After. We had got done planting potatoes by dark the night before. Come morning our son, Caleb (blue shirt, no hat) - and good friends Justin, Devon and Zach - were up early and loading the last of the camping gear, canoes and kayaks onto two pickup trucks. In a long planned trip, the boys were headed for a week's camping at Deboullie Pond in Township 15, Range 9, towards the Allagash and halfway to Quebec in the North Maine Woods, northwest of Portage. The lakeside campsite will be breezy and that will help keep down the Black Flys (wryly known up here as the Maine State Bird) which otherwise are at their peak this time of year.
          Our eight days of potato planting dragged out to take a full four wet weeks that brought us a total of ten inches rain and muddy fields galore. Neighboring New Brunswick Canada has replanted 3000 acres of drowned out potatoes. Now with planting done, we're shifting to getting the crops and weeds under control. Planting now behind us. It's good to be done, that's for sure. (Click on photo to enlarge)

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

Click here for the Wood Prairie Farm Home Page.
Thundering Support For Maine's GMO Label Bill.

     The culmination of a six month massive statewide grassroots effort came to fruition last week in the State Capitol in Augusta. And it was a landslide. Maine’s law-making system is a very modestly compensated part-time citizen legislature.  By most reports, Maine’s GMO label bill has been THE single most talked about piece of legislation in the Maine Legislature this year.  The people spoke and Maine’s Legislature listened.
     On Tuesday, June 11, Maine’s strong Right-to-Know GMO Label bill, known as LD 718, was debated before the Maine House.  The debate reached its zenith with the oratory of primary sponsor, Rep. Lance Harvell (R-Farmington), the well-read Tea Party Republican, paper mill worker, organic gardener and horse logger.  You will not want to miss viewing Rep Harvell’s floor speech on You Tube (7:41).  After close of debate, the House voted 141-4 in favor of LD 718.
     On the next day, Wednesday, the Maine Senate took up the same version of the bill and conducted its debate on whether GMO labeling was a good idea for Maine people.  Next, the Senate voted, unanimously 35-0, in favor of Maine’s GMO label bill.
     Soon the bill will be in front of Governor Paul LePage.  We hope Gov LePage will agree with the clear will of Maine’s people and sign LD 718 into law.
     If you are a Mainer, it would be a good for you to call Gov. LePage’s office (207-287-3531) now and let him know you support LD 718 and urge him to sign. You may also email your thoughts to Gov LePage at governor@maine.gov.

Thanks for your help.
Jim & Megan

Click here for our Non-GE Wood prairie Farm Organic Vegetable Seed.

All Green Lights. Besides each Maine Senator's name on the board (behind Senate President Justin Alfond) is a red light and a green light. There were no red lights anywhere to be seen. Without exception, every one of the 35 members of the Senate voted in favor of GMO Labeling for Maine.

Still Seeking Justice. Farmers again denied access to the courts.
 Court of Appeals Ruling Gives Farmers Partial Victory.

A three-judge panel at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently ruled that a group of organic and otherwise non-GMO farmer and seed company plaintiffs are not entitled to bring a lawsuit to protect themselves from Monsanto's transgenic seed patents "because Monsanto has made binding assurances that it will not 'take legal action against growers whose crops might inadvertently contain traces of Monsanto biotech genes (because, for example, some transgenic seed or pollen blew onto the grower’s land).'"

In the ruling in the case Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al. v. Monsanto, the Court of Appeals judges affirmed the Southern District of New York's previous decision that the plaintiffs did not present a sufficient controversy to warrant adjudication by the courts. However, it did so only because Monsanto made repeated commitments during the lawsuit to not sue farmers with “trace amounts” of contamination of crops containing their patented genes.

Plaintiffs' attorney, Dan Ravicher of the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), views the decision as a partial victory. “Before this suit, the Organic Seed plaintiffs were forced to take expensive precautions and avoid full use of their land in order to not be falsely accused of patent infringement by Monsanto,” said Ravicher. “The decision today means that the farmers did have the right to bring the suit to protect themselves, but now that Monsanto has bound itself to not suing the plaintiffs, the Court of Appeals believes the suit should not move forward.”

The plaintiff farmers and seed companies began their legal battle in March of 2011, when they filed a complaint against agricultural giant Monsanto asking for a declaration that Monsanto's patents on genetically engineered seed were invalid or unenforceable.  The plaintiffs were compelled to file the suit because Monsanto's patented seed can contaminate neighboring fields through various means including wind and insects, and the owners of those fields, such as plaintiffs, can then be sued by Monsanto for patent infringement.

The Organic Seed plaintiffs’ complaint detailed Monsanto's abusive business and litigation tactics that have put several farmers and independent seed companies out of business. They also detailed Monsanto’s history of ruthless patent enforcement, going so far as investigating as many as 500 farmers each year for patent infringement by trespassing onto their land. The plaintiffs further detailed the harms caused to society by Monsanto's GE seed, including the proliferation of herbicide-resistant “superweeds” and environmental pollution. The plaintiffs set forth in their legal filings how the patents were legally deficient in several ways including that the covered technology has no beneficial social use and that the dozens of patents issued to Monsanto have illegally extended and entrenched its monopoly.

“Even though we’re disappointed with the Court's ruling not to hear our case, we’re encouraged by the court’s determination that Monsanto does not have the right to sue farmers for trace contamination," said Maine organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen of Wood Prairie Farm, president of lead plaintiff Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association.  "However, the farmers went to court seeking justice not only about contamination, but also the larger question of the validity of Monsanto’s patents. Justice has not been served."

While the court is relying on Monsanto’s promise not to sue farmers for unintentional contamination, a growing number of America’s farmers and consumers are concerned about genetic contamination of our food supply by Monsanto’s transgenic crops. While this lawsuit seeks to protect contaminated farmers from being accused of infringing Monsanto's patents, the decision today allows farmers who are contaminated to sue Monsanto and Monsanto's customers for the harm caused by that contamination without fear of a retaliation patent infringement claim against them by Monsanto.

“Today’s ruling may give farmers a toehold in courts regarding the unwanted contamination of their crops, but it does not protect our food supply from the continued proliferation of Monsanto’s flawed technology,” said Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now!, a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit. “The real threat of continued contamination of our nation’s food supply was only highlighted last week when Monsanto’s unapproved GMO wheat was discovered in an Oregon farmer’s field more than 10 years after it was legally planted in that state,” said Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now!.

The discovery of GMO contamination sent shockwaves through the Western wheat growers community and resulted in Japan and South Korea temporarily halting the acceptance of American wheat imports.

Despite the Court of Appeals' Decision the plaintiffs still have the right to ask the Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeals decision and ultimately reinstate the case. Ravicher said the Organic Seed plaintiffs are considering doing so.

 Quotes: Wendell Berry on Nature.

      “Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes and a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.

- Wendell Berry

Kentucky Farmer Wendell Berry. Wendell pays attention to Nature. We pay attention to Wendell.

Potatoes with Swiss Chard. Photo by Angela Wotton.
Recipe: Potatoes with Swiss Chard

3 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 lbs Swiss chard
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prepare the chard by trimming ends from stems. Cut into 1/2-inch lengths. Wash the leaf and stem pieces thoroughly, then drain well. Bring salted water to boil in a large pot. Add the potatoes and cook 15-20 minutes, until tender. Add the Swiss chard for the last 5 minutes. Drain. Heat 2 T olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook garlic for 30 seconds. Add potatoes and chard and season them lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring and mashing the potatoes, until liquid is evaporated and potatoes are coarsely mashed.  Add the remaining 2 T olive oil, season to taste with salt and pepper and serve hot.

Special Offer: Last Chance For Our Organc Seed Potatoes & FREE Organic Buckwheat Cover Crop Seed.

     We just got done planting last weekend.  Like always, we will be taking orders and shipping our Organic Seed Potatoes until the week of the 4th of July.  So you still have time to order and get in a late Spring crop of spuds. We’ll start up shipping seed potatoes once again with the new Harvest beginning in September and then ship steady until the next 4th of July.

     One of the first jobs after potato planting is to plow next year’s potato ground and then immediately disc and plant it to a plow down cover crop of Buckwheat. Buckwheat does a great job of smothering weeds, mellowing the ground and bringing up Phosphorus from deep down in the soil, making that Phosphorus available for succeeding crops like potatoes. Buckwheat is lush and fast growing and does well on marginal land.  We mow Buckwheat at first bloom (7-8 weeks after planting) and then incorporate the biomass by plowing it in. Young Buckwheat plants are a tasty substitute for spinach in your kitchen.

     Now here's your chance to earn a FREE 2 ½ lbs. sack of our Organic Buckwheat Cover Crop Seed (Value $9.95) – Enough to Plant Over 500 square Feet - when your next order totals $45 or more. FREE Organic Buckwheat Cover Crop Seed - offer ends 11:59 PM on Monday, Jun 24, 2013, so you better hurry!

     Please use Promo Code WPF1148. Your order and FREE Organic Buckwheat Cover Crop Seed must ship by 7/1/13. Offer may not be combined with other offers. Please call or click today!

Click here for our Wood Prairie Farm Organic Cover Crop Seed Section.

Amy and Sarah Gerritsen Boxing Up Orders.
On Wood Prairie Farm everyone has a job. (Click on photo to enlarge)

Our Mailbox: Smart Bags, Good Reason, Controlling Food Supplies, Lacking Logical Rigor.

Using Smart Bags.

Dear WPF.

     I'm using the Smart Bags this year after rats dug tunnels into my planter boxes last year and ate/destroyed my entire potato crop. You can move the bags around to wherever is convenient which is one of the many advantages of them.

World Wide Web

WPF Replies.

     The Smart Bags last many years and that helps spread out their cost of purchase. Potatoes are gluttons and they will reward you with good yields if you lavish them with plenty of fertility and water. As a rule, most people do not water their potato plant containers sufficiently. Assuming one has good quality seed (and yes there is a big difference is seed quality), along with insufficient fertility, lack of adequate water is the biggest reason for disappointing container gardening yields.


Good Reason To Be Upset.

Dear WPF.

     I'm assuming you've seen this article in Bloomberg...I'm so upset. 

Farmington, CT
WPF Replies.

     Yes we were also disappointed with the US Court of Appeals ruling. Please read our press release carefully. The ruling represents a partial victory. The court essentially ruled that we farmers DID have standing to sue. However, when the Appeals Court ordered that Monsanto is now legally bound by the Court through estoppal to NOT sue farmers for 'trace' contamination, that order ironically effectively removed the court's percieved basis for our standing. So, we gained protection for all US farmers (and NOT just those in the Plaintiff group) but we did not gain the right to challenge the validity of the GE seed patents. And yes we do have the option of appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.


Controlling World Food Supplies.

Dear WPF.

     It is so worrying and dangerous that transnational companies for the first time in history are controlling the world's food supplies and people do not realize how dangerous this is. In Chile I visit pensioners who have low working class pensions and they managed to survive well because they have vegetable plots and they keep the seeds and exchange seed with their neighbors. Will these people be able to buy seeds every year if Monsanto continues its controlling efforts of natural seed extermination?

Vina Del Mar, Chile

WPF Replies.

I am president of Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association. Our organization considers it essential that we work to protect the peoples' right of access to good clean seed. We know that it was our ancestors who through many many generations of hard work, breeding and selection, transformed wild grasses into the food crops the world today relies upon for its survival. We encourage everyone to commit themselves to resisting the pirated theft by corporations of the people's inviolate right to the seed our forebears created.


Lack of Logical Rigor.

Dear WPF.

     The first thing that stood out when Dr. Seralini first published, was emulation of the Monsanto study. GMO utopians are not  known for logical rigor and proceeded to trash the same methodology they'd previously accepted so enthusiastically. Seralini himself noted that the experiment his team conducted was by no means the last word, but at this point I think it's reasonable to conclude that the preponderance of research in the field says everything necessary.

Sharon, CT

WPF Replies.

     Biotech's inherent frustration in battling Dr. Seralini's study is that his research is honest and truthful. Biotech has a big insurmountable problem arguing against truth. The only tools available to them are lies and character assassination. Independent thinking people are able to see through Biotech's self-serving charade. In fact, what we are now witnessing is what I believe the beginning of the end for Biotech.

Wood Prairie Farm Quick Links

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