Wood Prairie Farm                                       In This Issue of The Seed Piece: 
 Seed Piece Newsletter                        BREAKING NEWS! Appeal Filed Against Monsanto!
      Organic News and Commentary
                                        Indiegogo Awards Wood Prairie Farm Top Honor.
            Friday July 06, 2012                                                           Remembering Clark Philips Organic Pioneer.
Mailbox: Hoppers, Awareness & Taters.                                                     


     Maine Farmers Exchange.

      Maine Hosts Denmark.  Monday morning, thirty-five organic farmers and researchers from Denmark toured Wood Prairie Farm.  It was their first stop on a   northeastern tour of organic farms and research facilities in Maine, Vermont and Quebec. Here, Jim Gerritsen  provides details to the Danes on the organic production practices of Wood Prairie Farm. 

The tour was set up as an exchange by Dr. Ellen Mallory, Sustainable Ag Specialist, University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service. In the Fall of 2010, Dr Mallory organized a tour of Danish organic farms and milling operations as part of the USDA-funded Northern New England Organic Bread Wheat project.   To watch a short video of the Dane’s visit to Wood Prairie Farm please click here.


BREAKING NEWS! Organic Farmers File Appeal Against Monsanto!

WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 5, 2012 – Seventy-five family farmers, seed businesses, and agricultural organizations representing over 300,000 individuals and 4,500 farms filed a brief today with the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington D.C. asking the appellate court to reverse a lower court's decision from February dismissing their protective legal action against agricultural giant Monsanto’s patents on genetically engineered seed.

The plaintiffs brought the pre-emptive case against Monsanto in March 2011 in the Southern District of New York and specifically seek to defend themselves from nearly two dozen of Monsanto's most aggressively asserted patents on GMO seed. They were forced to act pre-emptively to protect themselves from Monsanto’s abusive lawsuits, fearing that if GMO seed contaminates their property despite their efforts to prevent such contamination, Monsanto will sue them for patent infringement.

It’s time to end Monsanto’s scorched earth legal campaign of threats and intimidation against America’s farmers. Family farmers should be protected by the courts against the unwanted genetic contamination of their crops,” said Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now!, a grassroots community of more than 300,000 farmers and citizens dedicated to reforming food and agriculture, that is co-plaintiff in the suit.

Farmer Support.                 
  The people are behind Family Farmers versus Monsanto.

"We have a right to farm the way we choose,” said Maine organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, President of lead plaintiff Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA). “Yet Monsanto is unwilling to control their GMO pollution and they refuse to sign a binding covenant not-to-sue our family farmers for patent infringement should their seed contaminate our crops. Monsanto’s publicized ‘Commitment’ promising that they would not sue farmers was described by Monsanto’s own lawyers as being ‘vague.’ The law says we deserve protection under the Declaratory Judgment Act. We will continue to pursue our right to farm, and the right of our customers to have access to good clean food and seed.”

In an attempt to sidestep the challenge, Monsanto moved to have the case dismissed, saying that the plaintiffs' concerns were unrealistic. In February 2012, the district court took Monsanto's side and dismissed the case, ridiculing the farmers in the process. Despite the fact that the plaintiffs are at risk for being contaminated by genetically modified seed and then sued for patent infringement by Monsanto, Judge Naomi Buchwald of the Southern District of New York dismissed the case because she didn't find a case worthy of adjudication, saying “it is clear that these circumstances do not amount to a substantial controversy and that there has been no injury traceable to defendants.”

Every year Monsanto investigates over 500 farmers for patent infringement with their now notorious “seed police”. To date, 144 farmers have had lawsuits brought against them by Monsanto without a binding contract with the multinational corporation, while another 700 farmers have been forced to settle out of court for undisclosed sums.

Monsanto is known for bullying farmers by making baseless accusations of patent infringement,” said attorney Dan Ravicher of the not-for-profit legal services organization Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), which represents the plaintiffs in the suit against Monsanto known as Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al. v Monsanto.  “They've sued and harassed many other farmers who wanted nothing to do with their genetically modified seed and now that organic and conventional farmers are fighting back, they claim they would never do such a thing without backing up their words with an enforceable promise.”

Nature has determined that seed and pollen can drift great distances, in some cases as far as 10-15 miles, increasing the likelihood of contamination of organic crops with genetics from Monsanto’s laboratories. These seeds and crops are referred to as “transgenic” seed that has had DNA of foreign organisms inserted into its DNA through human engineered processes. Plaintiffs use and sell non­transgenic seed, more commonly referred to as heirloom, organic, or conventional seed. 

Some plaintiffs have simply stopped growing certain types of crops due to the threat of contamination. Bryce Stephens, a certified organic farmer from northwest Kansas, had to give up on trying to grow organic corn and soy once his neighbors started using Monsanto's genetically modified seed because it could easily spread onto his property and contaminate his organic crops, which would put him at risk of being sued for patent infringement by Monsanto.

In the brief filed today, the plaintiffs point out numerous errors in the district court decision that warrant reversal.

Murphy went on to state, “No company should be allowed to violate the property rights of America’s farmers or threaten their livelihoods through the use of frivolous patent infringement lawsuits designed to control farmers and the food supply, while protecting Monsanto’s flawed seed technology and corporate profits.”

The brief filed by the plaintiffs with the Court of Appeals is available here.

Indiegogo Awards Wood Prairie Farm Top Honor.

Maine Organic Seed Equipment Repair Shop Project Posted at
Top of Crowdfunding Giant's Homepage

     Indiegogo, the world's leading crowdfunding platform, announced this week that Maine's Wood Prairie Farm Organic Seed Equipment Repair Shop project had been selected as one of eight projects worldwide featured on the Indiegogo homepage.

     Two weeks ago, Jim & Megan Gerritsen co-owners of Wood Prairie Farm, launched their Organic Seed Equipment Repair Shop Project  on the popular Indiegogo website.  Off to a strong start, they have raised over $9000 towards their ultimate goal of $32,000 - which will pay for the building materials for a 30' x 70' metal and concrete on-farm repair shop needed to maintain and fabricate their vintage organic seed farm equipment. The Gerritsens are requesting help from the public to meet their funding goal for the project.

    "We are thrilled by this incredible recognition," said Megan Gerritsen, co-owner of the 36-year-old organic Wood Prairie Farm in Northern Maine.  "Out of thousands of projects worldwide, Indiegogo decided that the quality of our project and the content generated by our supporters deserved to be highlighted at the top of their company Homepage.  This is a big honor and it will bring in significant attention from the Indiegogo funding community. We are already seeing that this recognition is having a big impact on our small family farm's ability to successfully raise the needed funds for our Shop.  We need this Shop so that our boys, Peter and Caleb, will have a safe and dry place to keep our specialized organic farm equipment repaired.

     Crowdfunding is a web-based community funding model that serves as an approachable project incubator for individuals and small businesses who have a good idea and need help from their community to fund it. Financial support is provided by willing supporters from the public and 'perks' or rewards are offered in return.

     The Gerritsens are active members in the organic community and have donated thousands of hours in behalf of good food and organic farming over the past three decades.  Jim is President of the national trade group, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, lead plaintiff in the organic community lawsuit OSGATA et al v. Monsanto, which is challenging the validity of Monsanto's GMO patents.

Remembering Clark Philips Organic Pioneer

     The world lost a unique and tireless worker for good with the passing of pioneer organic farmer and forest steward Clark Phillips last week. By putting community ahead of self, Clark became a mentor for many of us, combining nearly 50 years of organic farming and social activism in behalf of rural producers in the Maritimes of Canada.
     Megan's and my involvement with Clark, and his partner, Sue, began 26 years ago when along with others we founded a local chapter of Organic Crop Improvement Assn. Their farm and world class large sustainably managed woodlot had recently transitioned to permanent stewardship by Community Forests International. Whaelghinbran Farm is continuing as a productive organic farm with the help of CFI personnel and interns under the active guidance of Clark and Sue.
     A celebration of Clark's life will be held at the farm on July 15 in the form of an informal memorial service and potluck. Here is a MUST view vimeo video (7:28) which provides a glimpse into Clark and Sue's vision of working with the land and proof that sustainability not only works but is far superior to land management based on exploitation. Don't miss it! Jim.

Clark Phillips, Susan Tyler. Organic pioneers.
Our Mailbox: Hoppers, Awareness & Taters.

Hoppers in Wyoming.

Dear WPF.

Dear Wood Prairie folks,

     Do you guys have any advice for protecting plants (especially potatoes) from grasshopper infestation?  Last year they destroyed most of the garden, including what started out to be a fantastic potato crop.  This year looks to be even worse and is hopefully the peak of the cycle.

     I began using nolo bait last year after it was too late (many were already adults).  Diatomaceous earth is impractical when you water frequently.  This year I started early with nolo bait, when the grasshoppers were first instar.  It has clearly helped but I'm hoping you have some advice for additional control.  I just ordered my third 25 pound bag.  (Of course, the county weed and pest guys urge everyone to use carbaryl.  Not happening.)

     If you're unfamiliar with nolo bait, the information is here: https://www.goodbug.com/nolobait.html

Wapiti Wyoming

WPF Replies. 

     We have no problem with grasshoppers out here so our knowledge is scant.  We have heard of the spores.  By googling 'organic grasshopper control' Arbico came up first.  We buy ladybugs and beneficial nematodes from them.  They have a competing product in a 50 lbs bag.


     And there is an article from The Mother Earth News.


     One idea is vacuuming grasshoppers with a shop vac. Good luck.


Awareness of Monsanto.

Dear WPF.
Hi Jim and family,

     Thanks for friending me on Facebook. I love Wood Prairie Farm and have bought seed potatoes from you for severals years now and always love the quality.

     Thanks also for being such an advocate for organic farmers and your work for awareness of Monsanto. I've been an organic gardener for 25 years and believe strongly in taking care of our beautiful earth. I became aware of Monsanto through my subscription to Organic Gardening magazine and have read many articles over the years that are very concerning. It is really scary to read stories of how they've gone after even the smallest farms or for people just saving family heritage seed.

     I come from Northern Missouri, close to the Iowa where there is nothing but farms and farmland. Over the years I've seen family after family lose their farms and way of life that they had always known.

     While I am no expert at all, it does sadden me to see a company that is so controlling, all because of what seems to be greed. I don't understand people like this at all. So many people are hurting and starving. The world could be such a better place and instead of moving forward and helping others, we seem to be going backwards.

      I posted the same post with the Stop Monsanto film project and it started a debate in support of Monsanto letting them spray their corn once instead of three times.They thought there were much more dangerous chemicals? While it was not my objective to start a debate, just an awareness,I feel so many people are uninformed. It is something I've become very passionate about. I'm typically a very quiet person. I did take off the post because there are so many families where I grew up that farming gmo corn is the way of life for them.

     Also, if you go to the state fair, there are Monsanto signs everywhere, the farmers really believe they are wonderful.
MU is a big Agricultual Univ in MO and I think they get misinformation there too.

     With children with so many allergies and asthma, possibly autism. It seems some people are not aware and some are not paying attention. Our hands seem to be tied with the Government supporting Monsanto. In Missouri Roy Blunt, our senator will always vote against GMO because his son owns a big Ethanol plant. It's really sad to see people in our senate that are so out of touch with nature, or "real life" to even begin to see how out of controling this is.

     Hopefully, by making people aware and educating them about Monsanto, we can make a difference. Thank you so much for all of your dedication to this so very important issue.

     I have gardened with my children since they were babies. My daughter planted with me 100's of blueberries,raspberries,blackberries. We planted 60 fruit trees,started bluebird trails and had our acreage certified as a Backyard habitat as well as a Monarch landing station. We are a very close family and love being together in nature and outdoors.

     I look forward to helping in any way I can.


World Wide Web

WPF Replies.

     Thanks Kelly. We really appreciate your support. The research over the problems with Roundup continues and the country will be shocked when the information is released.


Taters in South Carolina.

Dear WPF.

     I used to live in southern France where I had great success using seed potatoes. I now line in Charleston, SC and wonder which potatoes grow best in my region and when I should plant. I've read great things about you folks and would want to order my seed potatoes form you!

Many thanks,

World Wide Web

WPF Replies.

Hi Bucky,

     Potatoes planted in your part of coastal South Carolina with the greatest likelihood of success would be short and midseason season varieties planted early in the Spring - say late January/early February. These varieties include Reddale, Prairie Blush, Caribe', Yukon Gold and Rose Finn Apple Fingerling. The combo of short varieties planted early will allow the cool season potatoes to complete their tuber sizing by the time your hot weather arrives.  Thanks for your support.


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