Wood Prairie Farm
 The Seed Piece Newsletter
             Organic News and Commentary
                    Thursday June 26, 2014

 In This Issue of The Seed Piece:

    Reasons For Hope.

     June Planting of Seed Peppers and Seed Squash on Wood Prairie Farm.  As the rain began falling Tuesday evening this week, we were finishing up the plowing, discing and planting of our last crop.  Knowing the rain was imminent we pushed and finished planting that plow-down-crop of Buckwheat green manure on the five home farm fields which will grow next year’s ten acres of certified organic seed potatoes.  And rain it did: 0.70” came Tuesday night and then another 0.65” over the following 30 hours, concluding at noon today. Now the sky is clear and we are enjoying nice, dry ‘Canadian air.’

    Since conditions of unusually dry soil on June 4, we’ve now had more than 6.3” of rain in the last one-day-beyond-three-weeks. The rain has arrived in persistently frequent yet moderate amounts.  What’s not surprising is that with all the rain we’ve slipped behind in our workload from where we’d like to be.  But the crops look good and so far the moderate rains have soaked in and been good for everything growing in the ground.

  So things this year are wet but looking up.  For perspective, in each of the past three May/Junes we’ve been swamped with eleven to fifteen inches of rain.  June 2011 saw 9” of rain in the single week following the completion of our potato planting.  That next year, we received over 10” in just three days at the very end of June.  It is a fact that four of the wettest five years on record – since 1939 when weather records first began to be collected at the Caribou, Maine weather station – have occurred in the last five years.  When Mr. Gore writes of positive news on the climate change front, we here in Northern Maine are all ears.  Please don’t miss our article on Vice-President Gore's good news.

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

Click here for the Wood Prairie Farm Home Page.
The Deeper Dimension of Being Certified Organic.

     One of the up and comer blogs for the new wave of young organic farmers is out of California and is called FarmsReach.  The writing is good, the content valuable and the atmosphere constructive and obliging.

     A recent FarmsReach post sought advice on the value of going through the process of becoming a certified organic farmer.  Last Winter at the Agrarian Elders Gathering in Big Sur, a similar topic generated a very spirited dialogue by the experienced - and not bashful - elder organic farmer participants.

     Below are the comments Jim contributed yesterday to this FarmsReach thread about whether or not an organic farmer should become certified.

     We have been MOFGA certified organic farmers for 32 years: 12 years under USDA NOP and 20 years before certification became required.  I agree with the comments suggesting that certification has definite value in marketing venues beyond wholesaling
     However, I’d like to touch on a deeper dimension to the value of certification: organic farmers who are not certified are politically invisible and that seriously hinders the progress of our movement.

     I believe we all have a responsibility to help build the permanence of organic farming.  In the 1970s and 1980s organic certification served as the mechanism by which we teased out what was appropriate organic practice.  Over time a decentralized grassroots consensus definition of organic developed and refined itself.  Certification became how farmers publicly acknowledged adherence to accepted organic production principles. Certification largely created the market for organic food.

     There remains a perpetual need on the part of members of the organic community to protect the system called organic farming.  Today, there is increasing pressure by outside corporate pressure (Industrial Food conglomerates who bought their way into organic) to water down the organic standards. This pressure is unacceptable to those seeking authentic organic food and to organic family farmers faithful to organic principles.  It must be fought. 

     Additionally, there are critical reforms needed in ag and food policy.  We must elect strong candidates, supportive of organic, to office.  For every certified organic farmer there are two or three organic farmers who have not certified.  Organic farmers who stand up and become certified deploy the strongest leverage for good and therefore offer the greatest service to our organic community. 

     There are many times when the most important considerations have little to do with cost or affordability.  Instead, what really matters centers around integrity and a commitment and willingness to throw ones’ weight into a cause which supports the much greater common good.

     We’ve always felt this deeper dimension is what organic farm certification is really all about.

Jim & Megan

Click Here for Our Certified Organic Wood Prairie Farm Certified Seed Potatoes.

Certified Organic Farmer. More than one reason every organic farmer should become certified organic.

Al Gore's Must Read Article. We hope the Vice-President is correct.

Al Gore: Market Realities Bring New Hope For the Climate.

     Former Vice-President Al Gore believes there are unmistakable signs that we have reached a positive turning point in the battle to mitigate the effects of climate change.  Writing a powerful article in a recent edition of Rolling Stone, the new optimism interestingly involves an unexpected market response and the recently significantly lower costs for both solar and wind power.

     Writes Gore, “In the struggle to solve the climate crisis, a powerful, largely unnoticed shift is taking place. The forward journey for human civilization will be difficult and dangerous, but it is now clear that we will ultimately prevail. The only question is how quickly we can accelerate and complete the transition to a low-carbon civilization. There will be many times in the decades ahead when we will have to take care to guard against despair, lest it become another form of denial, paralyzing action. It is true that we have waited too long to avoid some serious damage to the planetary ecosystem – some of it, unfortunately, irreversible. Yet the truly catastrophic damages that have the potential for ending civilization as we know it can still – almost certainly – be avoided. Moreover, the pace of the changes already set in motion can still be moderated significantly.”

     Those corporations which benefit from the status quo and high-carbon-polluting fuels – notably the desperado Koch Brothers and their ilk – will fight tooth and nail to maintain their stranglehold position.  However, market forces are very powerful.  The need is for government to develop backbone to resist industry’s self-serving power plays which attempt to disable operation of the market.  As well, the people must do their homework and see past the endless industry propaganda and lies.

     Rarely do we receive this sort of unanticipated surprise and good news.  You will be glad you took the time to read this important and in-depth article.

Jim & Megan

Click Here for Our Certified Organic Cover Crop Seed.
Notable Quotes: Lincoln on Democracy.

Cornmeal and Quinoa Skillet Bread.
Photo by Angela Wotton
Recipe: Cornmeal and Quinoa Skillet Bread.

1 c whole wheat or spelt flour (I used spelt in this recipe)
3/4 c cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp dried mixed herbs (optional)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 c cooked quinoa, room temperature (quinoa is cooked just as you would oatmeal)
3 T unsalted butter, barely melted
3 T natural cane or brown sugar
3/4 tsp sea salt
2 c milk
1 1/2 T white or white wine vinegar
1 c heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350F. Roughly ten minutes before you are ready to bake the skillet bread, while you are mixing the batter, place the skillet in the hot oven.

In a large bowl stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and dried herbs.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, quinoa, and melted butter until well-blended. Add the sugar, salt, milk and vinegar and stir again. Then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until the batter comes together. It will be quite thin.

Pour the batter into the heated skillet. Pour the heavy cream into the center of the batter - do not stir. Carefully place in oven and check after 45 minutes. The skillet bread is done when the top becomes lightly browned and the center just set.

Best served warm from the oven. 


Special Offer: FREE Smart Bag for Container Gardening.

     One of the most dynamic developments in gardening in the last decade is the phenomenal growth of container gardening.  The half-whiskey barrels of the past have given way to lighter, less expensive and more versatile alternatives.  The container gardening boom has brought on tremendous innovation. Now folks with zero land and barely a balcony can have fun growing organic tomatoes, potatoes, greens, herbs and MUCH more.  Our space age fabric Wood Prairie Smart Bags are one of the breakthrough innovations.  Our Smart Bags have increased the opportunities for growing a garden almost anywhere.

      Now here's your chance to try out container gardening and earn for yourself a FREE 15-Gallon Wood Prairie Smart Bag (Value $12.95) when the amount of goods in your next order is $49 or more.  FREE 15-Gallon Wood Prairie Smart Bag offer ends Midnight Monday, June 30, 2014, so better hurry!

      Please use Promo Code WPF1180. Your order must ship with FREE 15-Gallon Wood Prairie Smart Bag offer and entire order must ship by 7/3/14. 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 Tools and Supplies Section.


FREE Smart Bag. Enjoy this chance to give container gardening a try.
Our Mailbox: Butte Blossoms, Possession and the Law, The Desired Solution.

Butte Blossoms.

Dear WPF.

This morning these potato blossoms interrupted by intended plan of action by calling me to them via their scent. I had no idea the humble potato plant had such an assertive and beautiful fragrance.


WPF Replies.

     Some potato varieties show abundant blossoms (like the 'Butte' in the photo), others almost none (like 'Yukon Gold'). Because potatoes are vegetatively propagated, the blossoming (or lack of same) has no impact on yield. However, the old timers observed that with plenty of early moisture there will be a relative excess of blossoms plus a high tuber set (number of tubers per hill) and that lays the foundation for the highest possible yield. An entire potato field in blossom is both beautiful and very fragrant. It is something for the senses to behold.
     In time, some pollinated blossoms will form into green 'seed balls' which are small (3/4" diameter) tomato-like-spheres. Inside one seed ball you will find perhaps 80-100 tiny 'true' seeds which will be a cross between the mother plant (sporting the seed balls) and another variety which supplied the pollen (father). A potato breeder would take those seeds and grow them out. If the breeder is fortunate, after selecting from 100,000-200,000 plants in this manner, a new cultivar superior to the parents may be identified and developed into a new potato variety.


Possession and the Law.

Dear WPF.

     Did you see this Jim? Santo Movie Meme.


WPF Replies.

     Yes I did. And no, it is not correct. A farmer who via ultimatums in effect admits to unlicensed "possession" of patented material is opening himself to a patent infringement lawsuit. Our three year lawsuit against Monsanto, 'OSGATA et al v. Monsanto'  resulted in partial protection for farmers who through no fault of their own become contaminated and come to "possess" trace amounts (defined as 1% or less) of Monsanto's patented material. We do know farmers who have gone up against Monsanto solo and it is an experience not for the faint of heart.


The Desired Solution.

Dear WPF.

     Even if proper studies had been done on certain GMO safety, the method they use of dropping thousands of pounds of poison into the earth for every crop is not acceptable. The emphasis should be on trying to use less. I know that farming is tricky, and I know you have to do something to alleviate the pests, but let's see methods tried out that aren't deadly to people. The world is finite, and the only one we have so far. Stewardship is key.

Bridgewater NJ

WPF Replies.

    One may trace back the practice of organic farming to Sir Albert Howard and the Rudolph Steiner lectures in the 1920s. So - despite the dismissive propaganda of industrial agriculture - we have a documented nearly hundred-year history of sound farming in tune with nature, producing healthy food in an environmentally sound manner. This stellar system of organic production includes controlling pests without persistent synthetic chemicals. So, yes, we have the desired solution and it is in operation. It is called organic farming.


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