Organic News and Commentary
From Maine
                  Saturday, June 30th, 2018
                  Volume 27 Issue 13


 In This Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:

  Fast Growth.

     Wood Prairie Family Farm's Amy Gerritsen Stands Beside Head-High Field of Organic Winter Rye.  Caleb's sister Amy, standing in a plot of Organic Dark Red Norland Certified Seed Potatoes, is dwarfed by the crop next door, Organic Winter Rye Seed.  We sowed this crop of winter rye early last October, the day after we had finished harvesting our seed potato crop, grown in that field during 2017. 
       This crop of Organic Winter Rye should be ready to be combined in about five weeks.   Hardy Winter Rye is an excellent cover crop planted anytime of the year.  When planted in the Fall (August or later) it will survive through the Winter – even in cold Northern Maine  - and start growing again in the Spring.  It can be incorporated into the soil in the Spring or allowed to mature into a grain crop (The "Rye" in rye bread) ready for harvest in mid-Summer.
      Our cool Spring has continued.  So far, in terms of Potato Growing Degree Days (base 45ºF), this year we're down about 25% from the ten year average.  A hot spell is in the forecast in the days leading up to the 4th of July.   That will help catch us up.  While we're still on the dry side, we've been getting just enough rain to keep the crops happy and looking good.
     Amy's sister, Sarah, continues to take photos around the farm and you'll see her work scattered throughout this issue of the Wood Prairie Seed Piece.
     We hope wherever you are, the sun is shining and your crops are growing well.


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

Loon Family Values. Love and devotion in the wilds.
Don't Miss this Great Little Video of a Family of Great Northern Loons!

       We think it will be worth your time to unwind and watch this short video (1:06) of a family of Loons interacting with one another on a lake in northern Minnesota.

       Loons require peace and quiet and are identified with wilderness.   We are fortunate to have loons on isolated lakes here in Northern Maine and it's a special treat when we get to see –and hear! - one.

       This article provides good background about what makes loons so special.

Caleb, Jim & Megan 

Click Here for our Wood Prairie Organic Vegetable Seeds.
Special Offer & Last Call: FREE Organic Maine Certified Adirondack Red Seed Potatoes.

      Now is your LAST CHANCE for getting our Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes! We harvested this current seed crop back in September. We have stored these seed spuds ever since in our cool underground cellar. We've been selling and shipping out this crop all Fall, Winter and Spring. However, after the upcoming 4th of July we'll be completely sold out until our new Seed Potato crop is ready to dig and ship beginning in September.
     So, there's still time to order seed if you act right away! As an incentive if you place your order now, we are giving away seed potatoes for a wonderful new variety from Cornell University, the beautiful ptoato called Organic Adirondack Red. Don't miss out!

     Earn yourself a FREE 1 Lb. Sack of Organic Maine Certified Adirondack Red Seed Potatoes (Value $11.95) when your next order totals $39 or more. FREE 1 Lb. Sack of Organic Maine Certified Adirondack Red Seed Potato Offer ends 11:59 PM on Monday, July 2, so please act now!

     Please use Pormo Code WPFF430. Your order and FREE 1 Lb. Sack of Organic Maine Certified Adirondack Red Seed Potatoes must ship by July 5, 2018. Offer may not be combined with other offers. Please click today! 

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

Last Call for Organic Seed Potatoes. Going, going, gone!

Yuko Art. Subtle Attempts to Soften the Yugo / Cheap Food image? Yuko Foosball, modern Bread and Circus?
Using The Much Maligned Yugo to Explain the USA's Destructive Cheap Food Policy.

     It's a fact.  Americans spend the least amount of household income on food (6.4%) of any country in the world.  This 2016 listing shows where the world's countries lie on this continuum.   In reality, this ranking is nothing for the USA to celebrate. While the pitfalls of our 'Cheap Food' policy are many and multi-layered, it's worth questioning what is really going on.   A good analysis does require reading between the lines and questioning scared cows.

        Here's an analogy which might help provide clarity.  Imagine for a moment that Americans, instead, spent the least amount of income on buying automobiles. To get off to a start, let's pick on the Yugo. Americans might instinctively imagine they love being #1 and love "saving" money in buying their vast national fleet of Yugos.  But there's more to it. There's the constant night time breakdowns in the rain, the unending massive repair bills, not to mention the excessive deaths and maimings due to the insufficiency of safety engineering plus  the mounting - and cleverly hidden from public view - taxpayer-financed government Yugo subsidies designed to keep retail Yugo prices looking "low."

      There's no escaping the truism that it takes real effort to do things right. Conscientious auto manufacturers would face a daunting uphill battle against colossal Yugo subsidies, a society-wide fabricated expectation of low retail automobile prices and a widespread failure to grasp the true (internalized) HIGH COST of Cheap Yugos.

      Stepping back, in the end, the "best" price is the "fair" price in which the true, honest cost (fully internalized) of automobile production (or food) is in balance (par exchange) with other sectors of the economy.   What comes to mind with our current dysfunctional food system is the wise, old adage, "You get what you pay for."


Click Here for Our Wood Prairie Organic Cover Crop Seed.

Wood Prairie Family Farm Photos.

Wood Prairie Flame Weeding of Newly Emerged Potatoes.   In this first shot taken by Caleb's sister, Sarah,  Jim deploys our first strategy for combating weeds in our crop of organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes.  Our relatively dry Spring has allowed perfect timing for farm work including the use of our propane Flamer.  The potato plants had emerged just days earlier.

Weed Control Step Two: Using Our Fingerweeder.  A week or ten days after flaming we run through our potatoes with a tractor with "rear mount" Fingerweeder following "mid mount" cultivator teeth with "Calves' Tongue" feet.   Twenty-five years ago we bought the Fingerweeder from a local farmer who had purchased it brand new in 1952.  It was in that era when Maine led the nation with the production of 235,000 acres of potatoes.  It is interesting to note that herbicides were first introduced the next year in 1953.  So, during the climax of Maine's Potato Empire, not a single drop of herbicide had ever been used.

Front View Fingerweeder on Potatoes.   This shot highlights the traditional Aroostook County technique of using fully engaged Calves Tongues to shovel mid-row soil onto the top of the potatoes only to be immediately torn down by the closely-spaced Fingerweeder teeth.  Those teeth aggressively go right through the potato row sending wayward 'mustard and kale' weeds to crucifer heaven.  The faster the tractor travels the more dirt gets tossed.  To the uninitiated, the process looks like mayhem.

Caleb Unloading John Deere Plow from Auction Day.   Last Saturday was the annual farm equipment consignment auction held in nearby Mapleton.  After twenty plus years of work in our rocky fields, our second-hand four-bottom IH (International Harvester) moldboard plow was worn out and has needed replacement.  Caleb won the bidding and got a great deal on this nice five-bottom John Deere plow.   The bid price was a small fraction of other replacement plows we had looked over last Fall.

Aldous Huxley on Facts.

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. 

Megan & Angie

Cornmeal and Quinoa Skillet Bread.
Photo by Angela Wotton
Mailbox: Beautiful Spuds and Respect for Elders.

Beautiful Spuds!

     I thought that you'd like to see the results from some of your seed potatoes. These Caribe' and Prairie Blush were planted around March 1st and will all be harvested by July 1st when the temperatures turn to the high nineties and low 100s here in central New Mexico. These come from one plant of each - probably the best crops that I've ever had growing in the desert southwest in Albuquerque.
     I am a transplanted New Englander who can't live without garden potatoes. It's been a learning process to grow them in the heat of the southwest, but I pre-sprout them, plant them very early (always ready to cover them on nights with frost), and give them my best compost. The results are obvious. I still have some Caribe' and Red Dale in the ground but I suspect that they won't last more than 10 days more.

Albuquerque, NM

Great job with those beautiful spuds! You clearly are a good gardener and a wise New Englander.

Respect for Elders

You're half way done and that with a stubborn winter. You guys are tough. Congrats


     Planting goes relatively fast. Harvest means we are handling 10X the amount of potatoes, all snug and comfy in their hills...with thoughts of coming Winter ever present in our thought. Our old neighbor and potato farmer, Doss Morse, was born October 6, 1899. One Fall way back he told us it once snowed on his birthday and that snow never left til Spring. So out of respecft for our elders - and common sense -we always want to be done digging potatoes by Doss' birthday.


 Caleb & Jim & Megan Gerritsen
 Wood Prairie Family Farm
 49 Kinney Road
 Bridgewater, Maine 04735
 (207) 429 - 9765 Certified Organic, From Farm to Mailbox