Wood Prairie Farm
 The Seed Piece Newsletter
             Organic News and Commentary
                    Friday July 11, 2014

 In This Issue of The Seed Piece:

    Elder Wisdom and Youthful Forays.

     Murray Lawrence Retires as Local Maine Seed Potato Inspector.  Donning his iconic suspenders, Murray Lawrence (above), Maine’s Certified Seed Potato Inspector for the the Bridgewater area, stands by his state pickup truck on his last day of work, June 30.  Murray grew up on his family’s potato farm in the nearby town of Westfield where he still resides to this day.  His career as an inspector for the State of Maine spanned 31 years, first as a Tablestock Inspector, and then for the last 19 years as Seed Inspector for our farm and others in Bridgewater and nearby towns.  From a lifetime’s experience in potatoes he has developed an expertise very few can rival and his knowledge is coupled with Abe Lincoln-like integrity.

     His first year inspecting for us was the blistering drought year of 1995 – the third driest year last century in Maine. After having pumped our irrigation pond dry by early August, Jim remembers walking the potato field with Murray who pulled up a few plants, and after examining the tubers underneath, calmly issued the welcome assurance, “You’re gonna have a crop.”  That comment was the first in a long string of being right.

     Murray is being replaced as Seed Inspector by former Tablestock Inspector, Kristi Bradbury, a Simonson whose family has been growing seed potatoes in Bridgewater for many generations.  Back in the 1970s, she wedded into the Bridgewater Bradbury clan by wedding Ward, a son of Earl who was one of the original four “Bradbury Brothers.”

     Meanwhile, Post-Tropical-Storm Arthur pounded Aroostook County last Friday night and Saturday leaving Bridgewater with 6” of rain and high winds (clocked at 46mph).  The combination of saturated ground and high winds uprooted and toppled over some big trees in our 50-acre woodlot leaving a mess, but no disaster.  Local rivers and streams were quickly up to flood level.

     The photo below is son Caleb kayaking with friends the very next day (Sunday) on the wild flooded North Branch of the Meduxnekaeg River. River level was at least two feet higher than a similar heavy-rain-spawned opportunity last August.
 Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
 Wood Prairie Farm
 Bridgewater, Maine

Click here for the Wood Prairie Farm Home Page.

Wendell Berry Insight and Wisdom Circa 1974.

     Kentucky farmer, poet and essayist Wendell Berry has been a tireless, eloquent advocate for family scale sustainable farming and rural America for most of his life.  Wendell’s seminal work, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture, became a bible for many of us in the 1970s and helped shape our view of the world and of agriculture.

   Now, The Berry Center in Kentucky has released a valuable You Tube video (41:09) of Wendell Berry speaking at the Agriculture for a Small Planet Symposium in Spokane Washington, on July 1, 1974.

   Please do take the time to watch this insightful and pertinent video.  Learn from a remarkable man who has spent a lifetime explaining the truth about agriculture to others, motivated by his love of the land and those who work it.

Jim & Megan

Click Here for Our Wood Prairie Farm Certified Organic Cover Crops.

Robert Stetterly's Americans Who Tell the Truth Painting of Wendell Berry. Still right after 40 years.

Lightning Strikes. At your fingertips.

Worldwide Real-Time Digital Maps of Current Lightning Strikes. 

     Where in the world is lightning striking right now? Thanks to the Blitzortung.org volunteer network based in Germany, this link provides a map of North America which shows lightning strikes which have occurred in the past two hours, updated every minute. Similar such maps cover other continents. You will want to bookmark the map.

     If you are ambitious and possess some electronic and IT savvy, you may arrange with Blitzortung to setup your own volunteer reporting station for a cost of less than $300.  As you can see from their maps, Western Europe is well covered with reporting stations.  However, locations in many states and provinces in North America need help to improve the network.  With Frank, Wood Prairie Farm’s IT expert, we’re looking into getting a reporting setup here in Northern Maine.

Jim & Frank

Click Here for our Wood Prairie Farm Certified Organic Vegetable Seed.

New Study Confirms Earlier Findings: YES - ORGANIC IS THE BEST.

     A major new meta-analysis study again confirms that organic food is superior.  Writes collaborating Washington scientist Dr. Charles Benbrook, “There have been four progressively rigorous meta-analyses published since 2009 focusing on differences in the nutritional quality and safety of organic versus conventional food. The latest comes out July 15, 2014 in the British Journal of Nutrition (BJN). I was the sole American scientist on the mostly European research team that produced the BJN paper…”

     The study’s significant findings are highlighted by its title:  “Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses.

     So, why are organic foods consistently found nutritionally superior to their conventional-chemical-input counterparts?  Dr Benbrook identifies a likely explanation from the new study, “Baranski et al. explains that the level of nitrogen available to plants, and the form in which nitrogen is supplied, plays a major role in driving antioxidant and other nutrient levels up or down. In general, the higher the nitrogen level, and the greater the percentage of nitrogen applied in a readily available form, the greater the risk of diluting, or lowering, the concentrations of health-promoting plant phytochemicals in plant-based foods.  This conclusion leads to a vital insight — how farmers feed their plants helps determine the nutritional profile of the food harvested from them.

     Contrary to baseless orchestrated propaganda assertions of Industrial Ag, we have always believed in the superiority of organic farming, founded on the premise that healthy soil grows healthy food.  These new study conclusions validate the idea that good organic farming - which puts the soil first - creates good food, low in pesticide residues, and that represents the very best choice for you and your family.


Click Here for Our Wood Prairie Farm Certified Organic Grain Section.

New Study Shows Organic Food Superior. Four out of four studies all agree: organic is the best.
Notable Quotes: Sir Howard on Indivisibility.

Whole Wheat Walnut Bread Sticks.
Photo by Angela Wotton
Recipe: Whole Wheat Walnut Breadsticks

2 tsp active dry Organic Yeast

1 1/2 c lukewarm water

1 tsp honey

1/4 c walnut oil

2 c organic whole wheat flour

1 1/3 c all-purpose flour

1/2 finely chopped walnuts

1 1/2 tsp sea salt

Combine whole wheat flour, yeast water, honey and oil in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer. 

Add 1 cup of the all-purpose flour, walnuts and salt. Stir by hand or in the mixer and turn dough out on lightly floured surface; knead for 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary to keep dough from sticking. If using a mixer, mix at medium speed for 8 to 10 minutes. The dough should be elastic and just slightly sticky.

Lightly flour work surface. Using your hands or rolling pin, roll the dough into a 14 x 4 inch rectangle. Brush the top with oil. Cover with plastic and a damp kitchen towel. Allow to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees with racks positioned in the middle and upper thirds of the oven. Brush sheet pans with olive oil or walnut oil. Cut the dough crosswise into four equal pieces. Cut each piece crosswise into six equal pieces. Roll each between the board and your hands as if you were making a rope until it is as long as the baking sheet. Place 1 inch apart until you've filled two baking sheets. Continue to shape the remaining breadsticks while the first batch is baking.

Place in oven and bake 15 minutes. Switch the pans top to bottom and bake another 10 minutes until the breadsticks are nicely browned. You can also flip them over halfway through for more even baking. Cook on a rack.

These breadsticks can also be frozen and recrisped in a medium oven for 10 minutes.

Yield: Two dozen breadsticks

You'll like these,


Source: NYTimes.com

Special Offer: FREE Fresh Organic Bread Yeast.

     No longer are we in the days of needing to settle for synthetic Big Food bread yeast.  Our friends at BioReal have made breadmaking easy with our fresh Certified Organic Wood Prairie Farm Bread Yeast.  This is the same great organic yeast we use in the popular Wood Prairie Farm Organic Whole Grain Bread Mixes we mill ourselves from our organic grains in our on-farm certified organic flour mill operation. Check out all of our fresh grain products here - available year round . 

     As with other real food products, there are a few hints which will assure you increased success with organic yeast.  First, do store your organic yeast in the refrigerator, NOT the freezer. Secondly, do NOT proof our organic yeast in water.  Instead, mix organic yeast with a little flour prior to mixing with water.  Following these two simple suggestions will provide you with the delicious baking results you are after. 

      Now here's your chance to try out container gardening and earn for yourself a FREE Six Packets of Organic Yeast (Value $9.98) when the amount of goods in your next order is $49 or more.  FREE Six Packets of Organic Yeast offer ends Midnight Monday, July 14, 2014, so better hurry!

      Please use Promo Code WPF1181. Your order must ship with FREE Six Packets of Organic Yeast offer and entire order must ship by 8/29/14. 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 Organic Granary Section for Bakers and Cooks.


Organic Yeast: New Innovation. No need to settle for synthetic bread yeast.
Our Mailbox: The Right to Exclusion, Saving Your Crop, Fall Planted Potatoes.

The Right to Exclusion.

Dear WPF.

I think Steve Marsh lost his certification because if the canola germinated on his property it invalidated his organic status, not because it cross contaminated his grains?


WPF Replies.

     Australian Farmer Steve Marsh lost his organic certification because of GE contamination of his farmland when the neighbor's cut and windrowed GE canola blew onto Steve's farm. This unwanted GE trespass represented a violation of Steve's right to be secure on his farm. That should be enough. Farmers are not second class citizens when it comes to property rights. However, above and beyond that contamination episode, the common experience in North Dakota and Saskatchewan shows GE Canola genes quickly get out of control and become embedded in feral weed populations.  Should Steve ever choose to grow organic canola or related crops in the future, contamination of that intended organic crop could well be compromised with the contamination tracing back to the original episode.
     The essential point remains, a farmer has a right to farm the way he chooses including excluding himself from an unwanted, dangerous and false genetic engineering technology. This basic principle is important to every single citizen because without it, a citizen's right to a choice in the marketplace for something besides GE food will be obliterated.


Saving Your Crop.

Dear WPF.

     I have a question about soil amendments. What are the best amendments for poor soil? We broke new ground for our garden patch and it seems to be mostly clay and rocks (as soon as it rained the dirt hard packed down to being almost rock like) I've got potatoes, tomatoes, beets, broccoli, onions, and beans planted this year. Before we planted anything we tilled it 3 times and added about an inch of seasoned horse manure and tilled it in. But my plants aren't really growing, alive, but not producing new growth.

Limestone Maine

WPF Replies.

     In the short term - right now - I would work into the soil some of our All-Purpose Organic Fertilizer to feed the hungry plants. Then I would buy bales of straw. After a good weeding, mulch your veggies very thickly - up to a foot deep. The mulch will conserve moisture, prevent weed growth and as it decomposes it will greatly improve the tilth of the soil. I would also purchase a 4 gallon "Solo" backpack sprayer and commence with a weekly foliar fertility spray program centered around hydrolized fish and soluble kelp meal. Sooner than later I would take a soil sample and for $50 send to "Midwest Soil Labs" (via Lancaster Ag Products in PA) to see which nutrients need to be supplemented. This Fall try to secure some barnyard manure and generously work it into the soil. Building your soil is the best investment you can make.


Fall Planted Potatoes.

Dear WPF.

     I was inquiring if you sell seed potatoes for fall planting?

Asheville NC

WPF Replies.

    Yes we do sell Fall seed potatoes. However, you should be aware that there are timing challenges for Fall planting with all northern-tier-states Fall-harvested certified seed potatoes. First we harvest our organic seed potatoes between September 20th and October 15th so that becomes their first availability. Secondly all potatoes must go through a dormancy period of 4-8 weeks after being harvested before seed tubers will sprout and grow. The dormancy period varies by the year (physiological-age related, dependent upon stress factors such as the weather conditions they were grown in) and by the variety. "Short dormancy" varieties like Onaway, Reddale, Caribe' and Rose Gold as their grouping implies - will sprout sooner. "Long Dormancy" varieties are generally not good candidates for Fall planting prior to December 1. After December 1 all varieties will sprout and grow when subjected to warm conditions. Prior to December 1, we do apply an organically-approved version of gibberillic acid (GAA) - a natural plant growth hormone found in seaweed - to seed tubers to encourage the sprouting of Fall-shipped seed potatoes intended for Fall planting.


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