Wood Prairie Farm
 The Seed Piece Newsletter
             Organic News and Commentary
                    Thursday, July 10 2015
                       Volume 21 Issue 14

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 In This Issue of The Seed Piece:

    Maine North Woods.

     Maine's Deboulie Pond From Top of Fire Lookout. With hay in and the crops looking good - and mostly under control – there’s now a chance to take a short breather.  Our just-turned-21-year-old son, Caleb, is using this opportunity to take a break from farming and repairing equipment to head with his friends for their annual camping trip to Deboulie Pond (a ‘pond’ anywhere but in Maine is called a ‘lake’) within the 21,871-acre Deboulie Maine Public Reserved Land, owned by the people of the State of Maine. Deboulie is sixty miles northwest of Wood Prairie Farm, most of the way towards the wild Allagash River.
   Below, Caleb and Zack Sargent – best friends since Kindergarten at the Bridgewater Grammar School – stand by Caleb’s proudest accomplishment as a diesel mechanic, his F350 crewcab pickup. Caleb re-built this older truck from scratch - from tailpipe to front bumper – completely rebuilding the turbo-charged diesel engine, replacing a great many parts and giving it a brand new paint job.  The heavy truck gets a very respectable 18 mpg. The truck is so tall you almost need a step ladder to climb into the cab…
     Crops here – like our new crop of organic Maine Certified Seed potatoes are looking good.  After a wet Spring, it has turned dry and either we get rain soon or we’ll start to irrigate.
     Remember that cold New England winter?  Apparently, it was extremely hard on overwintering Colorado Potato Beetles.  So far this year in Aroostook County, CPB populations are extraordinarily low.  What is the CPB pressure on potatoes this year where you live?
     Hope you are enjoying these long warm days of Summer.

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

Click here for the Wood Prairie Farm Home Page.

       Packed & Bound for Deboullie Pond.
Work done, Caleb (right) and Zack are ready to roll.

Bald Mountain in Early Spring. Greenlaw Pond is the frozen lake in the foreground.

Protecting Bald Mountain From Devastation.

     In Maine’s North Woods, about 16 miles SSE of Deboulie Pond, lies Bald Mountain.  Bald Mountain is paper company land owned by the large and powerful multinational corporation, J.D. Irving, based in New Brunswick, Canada.

     At unimaginable risk to the pristine Fish River watershed - the waters, fish, wildlife and environment, Irving wants to create a jaw-dropping 600-acre open-pit metal – copper, gold, zinc - mine on Bald Mountain.  The proposed open-pit mine concept is totally unacceptable given the high sulfide and arsenic content of Maine ore in combination with Maine’s wet and cold climate. Contamination of pristine waters by sulfuric acid and arsenic would be unavoidable and catastrophic.

     The only way Irving would be permitted to build this mine is to first weaken existing Maine mining law.  This past legislative session, Irving – again – backed by renewed pressure from Governor LePage’s misnamed Department of Environmental Protection, tried to weaken Maine’s mining regulations – this time with yet another legislative bill.

     Last February, dodging snowstorms, Jim, and his friend, Randell Agrella of Abundant Acres, in Fort Fairfield, travelled the 225 miles to Augusta to testify in opposition to weakening mining regs in Maine.  The hearing room was brimming over with concerned citizens from all across the State who came to testify.  Virtually every independent citizen offered their testimony in opposition to the Irving proposal.

     There were ten or twelve of us who made the long journey down from Aroostook County.  Without exception, every Aroostook citizen testified against weakening Maine’s mining regs.

    Below is the testimony Jim prepared for the Committee.

February 25, 2015

Members of the Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resources,

I’m Jim Gerritsen.  My family and I grow Maine Certified Seed Potatoes in Aroostook County.  I’m here today to testify in opposition to LD 146.  We are adamantly opposed to the weakening of Maine’s mining regulations.

    We have farmed for 39 years in the unorganized territory of Central Aroostook County.  Our isolated seed farm is located 40 miles Southeast of Bald Mountain.  In our 36 square mile township – Township D, Range 2 – there are just eight residents: six are in our family.

    In the summer, after planting is done, and the black flies are thick, it’s become a tradition for our sons to go camping. Where do they go?  They go camping in Maine’s Deboullie Public Reserve – right next door to Bald Mountain.  They go with their friends from Bridgewater, Blaine, Mars Hill and Monticello. 

   All these young men live and work in Maine’s outdoors.  They would be here testifying against LD 146 with me here today except that they are back home working: shipping potatoes, moving snow and grooming trails for the local Mars Hill snowmobile club.  Those boys know every road and sled trail between here and Bald Mountain.

   Our children were born in the Unorganized Territory.  They’ve been raised with a land ethic.  They know the most important work they can do is make the land better for their children, just as my wife and I have done for them.  Their choice to live in Maine is a quality of life issue.  They like the woods and the freedom. 

   So you, as members of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee - and we as Maine farmers – we share a common responsibility.  It’s all of our jobs to protect Maine’s land and make sure it continues as an undiminished asset for future generations to work and enjoy.

   That’s why we oppose LD 146.  Weakening existing mining regulations is bad policy.  It will hurt everyone in Maine.  Our priority must always be protecting Maine’s environment.  To be successful - and to continue to be a great place to live and a great State to visit - Maine must maintain very strict limits on groundwater pollution. 

   Because of high sulfur and arsenic levels, unearthing Maine’s sulfide deposits by mining is a predictable catastrophe waiting to happen.  Maine’s increasingly wet climate – as documented by the National Weather Service - increases the likelihood of disaster from acid mine drainage.  Every Mainer should be alarmed when a company from out-of-state exerts pressure on weakening the regulations which insure protection of Maine’s environment.

   Maine taxpayers can not afford another corporate bailout like the Callahan Mine in Brooksville.  The recent Mt Polly mine disaster in British Columbia illustrates that modern mining remains flawed and environmental costs are high and unacceptable.  

   The Maine Legislature acted correctly last year when it overwhelmingly defeated this same proposal.  I urge your Committee to lead by example and defeat LD 146.

Thank you.

     There was great debate and many Committee work sessions. In the end, the legislature finally voted down this new attempt to weaken Maine’s mining regulations.  So Northern Maine’s Bald Mountain has dodged yet another bullet as sense won out over greed.


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

Special Offer: FREE Knife and Tool Sharpener.

     A farmer’s knife takes a lot of daily abuse and each use conspires to dull the blade.  And a dull tool is dangerous as one foolishly substitutes brute force for the designed effectiveness that only a sharp blade can properly provide.  Our American-Made ‘All in 1’ Knife & Tool Sharpener is just what the doctor ordered.

     This week we were spreading manure and with this job, invariably, the new-fangled plastic baling twine - which found its way into the manure - tightly wraps itself around the ‘beaters’ on the back end of our tractor-powered International Harvester (IH) 530 Manure Spreader.  We’ve found a very sharp knife (after experimenting with, among other things, a Sawz-All and an acetylene torch) is the best way to cut up and allow this manure-laden woven-twine-blanket to be forcibly extracted.  I’ve learned to keep an ‘All in 1’ Knife & Tool Sharpener right in my back pocket.  That way - every minute or so - I can touch up the blade with two or three quick sharpening-strokes and keep that blade razor sharp.  

     The ‘All in 1’ Knife & Tool Sharpener is very well-designed and works great for both knives and tools like pruning snips and lopping shears.  Once you use one, you will wonder how you ever got along without it!

     Here’s your chance to get a FREE ‘All in 1’ Knife & Tool Sharpener (value $14.95) on your next order where the goods total $60 or more.  Please use Promo Code WPF466. Offer may not be combined with other offers.  Your order and FREE ‘All in 1’ Knife & Tool Sharpener must ship by 8/31/15. Offer Expires 11:59p.m., Monday, July 13, so please hurry!

Click Here for our Wood Prairie Farm Organic Tools & Supplies Section.

Wood Prairie Knife and Tool Sharpener. Working to overcome dullness in the world.
Update on Aid to Nepal From Maine.

     Back in a May, Wood Prairie Seed Piece, we shared the story of our friend, Mainer Jeff Kaley performing great grass roots work to help earthquake survivors in Nepal.  Jeff’s lifelong connection to Nepal goes back to his stint there in the 1960s as a Peace Corps worker.  Over the ensuing five decades Jeff has cultivated and maintained friendships among the good people of Nepal, traveling there with regularity and offering aid where needed.

     The devastating series of strong earthquakes began in April and the extent of massive inflicted damage and suffering is difficult to imagine.  Jeff is using his network of trusted Nepali friends to provide aid directly to those in need.

     American dollars go a long way in Nepal.  To date $7000 has been collected and sent to help out people in Nepal.  Even $5 will make a difference.  If you would like to send a donation via Paypal the steps are below.  Thanks!

Jim & Megan

To Donate To Help Nepal via Paypal.

1.Once on Paypal, Click on the Send Money tab.
2. Enter jeffreespirit@gmail.com
3. Choose dollar amount to donate.
4. Click I'm sending money to family or friends.

Earthquake Survivors in Nepal Receive Our Help. American dollars go a long way in Nepal.

Worth Their Weight in Gold. Rare Shop Manuals from Mike Becker.
Great Source for Hard-to-Find Farm Equipment Manuals.

     As family farmers it is rare for us to buy any equipment which is brand new.  And by our experience only about once every five-ten years does a purchase of used farm equipment actually come with a manual.

   In our most lucid moments we realize that Step 2 after buying a piece of equipment should be to secure whatever specific equipment manuals we can lay our hands on.  Typical manual options include Operator Manuals, Shop Manuals and Parts Manuals.   The specific information contained in a manual – especially when you are broken down and under pressure – make manuals worth their weight in gold.

 But where does one source farm equipment manuals?  E-Bay is an obvious option but one that is always a roll of the dice and one that can eat up a lot of time in searching.

  Our favorite source is a good fellow we know in Wisconsin – Mike Becker – who has created a home-based business out of collecting-and-selling farm equipment manuals.  Mike’s prices are modest and he mails the manuals out quickly.

  We are always amazed by the depth of Mike’s collection.  Mike is old school and honest.  He works by telephone.  If you need a manual, give him a call.

Mike Becker
19438 County Hwy X
Chippewa Falls, WI 54729


Click Here For Our Wood Prairie Farm Essential Books Section

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 c rolled oats
1 c whole wheat flour
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.


A Wonderful Summertime Treat.
Photo by Angela Wotton.

Our Mailbox: Ideal Storage Conditions and Biological Activation.

Ideal Storage Conditions.

Dear WPF.

     How long can I store the seeds before planting? Do you have Jerusalem Artichoke seeds? How long will they store?


WPF Replies.

     Sorry but we don't offer Jerusalem Artichoke seed.
     Potatoes will store a long time beginning at harvest if kept at a fairly moist and dark 38ºF. As the storage season lengthens dormancy will wane and unless ideal storage conditions are maintained the tubers will begin to break dormancy and sprout. For best results - as a general rule - I would plant seed potatoes you get from us within 3 weeks of receipt.


Biological Activation.

Dear WPF.

    I've seen reports about phosphorous for several years. For some strange reason, government sources have backtracked to now say that we have no threat of using up all the phosphorous. I haven't bothered reading anything about it in the past couple years assuming that my compost needs to make available phosphorous.


WPF Replies.

     I'm not aware of a shift in government stance. My impression is Phosphorus supply and geographical location of sources is an increasing challenge. That said, a promising frontier is biological activation of a farm's soil to unlock and convert existing phosphorus to a plant-available form via biological systems. These techniques include use of Buckwheat Cover Crops and mycorrhizal fungi, both of which we use on Wood Prairie Farm.


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