Wood Prairie Farm
 The Seed Piece Newsletter
             Organic News and Commentary
                        Friday July 19, 2013

 In This Issue of The Seed Piece:

    The Pendulum Swings. Wet Spring. Dry Summer.

         Wood Prairie Farm Organic Crops Growing Well. Those are orange Day Lilies in the foreground. Our 20' x 132' year-round "High Tunnel" at left is full of tomatoes, peppers, greens, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries. Next door is an Organic Buttercup Winter Squash seed crop. Next to that are yellow and Rossa di Milano red onions. Before the Organic Dorinny Sweet Corn seed crop are some varietal test plots. Barely visible, beyond the rows of Dorinny, are five intensive beds of seventeen varieties of tissue-cultured first-generation certified seed potatoes grown from disease-free minitubers. The seed potatoes from that harvest will be used as our foundation stock for next year's commercial crop of our organic Certified Seed potatoes.
        If you look closely, you can see a sprinkler gun doing its irrigation job at the far end of the field. We have been setting up and irrigating for the past couple of weeks because the Summer has turned hot and dry in Northern Maine. Historically, our efforts at irrigation tend to bring a return of the rains, and that's been the case this week. Nature's rain benefits everyone, especially our neighbors most of whom are not set up to irrigate. Time will tell if we swing back to wet now, or in the Fall after a dry August. If it continues dry, our ponds are full and we're ready to work to keep our crops from getting thirsty. Hope your crops are doing well and you have enough moisture..

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

Click here for the Wood Prairie Farm Home Page.
Maine Enacts Historic GMO Label Legislation.

     After seven months of steady effort and with virtually unanimous support, both Houses of the Maine Legislature have enacted LD 718, Maine's Right to Know GMO Labeling bill. LD 718 was crafted and propelled by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA).
     Subsequent to the decisive legislative action, Maine Governor Paul LePage last week, issued a public written promise to the Legislature confirming that he would sign LD 718 into law in January, asserting, "It is to Maine's benefit to simply delay implementation of the law, and take advantage of the results of litigation in other states."
     Find more details on the historic Maine GMO Label legislation in this MOFGA article.
     Read Governor LePage's written promise to the Maine Legislature here.
     Don't miss this excellent new article from Modern Farmer: What Maine Can Teach the Rest of the Country About Farming.

Jim & Megan

Click here for the latest on the landmark organic community lawsuit OSGATA et al v Monsanto.

Three of Maine's GMO Label Law Shepherds. From left to right, MOFGA's Sam May, Preti Flaherty's Severin Beliveau and Wood Prairie Farm's Jim Gerritsen.

Dr. Arden Andersen. Bangor Soil School. Nov 2013. Don't miss it.
WARNING TO ALL!! DO NOT MISS Dr. Arden Andersen's 3-Day Soils Class in Bangor this November!
Eminent agronomist Dr Arden Andersen will be returning to Maine to give a three-day in-depth soils course on Nov 13, 14, 15.  Believe me, you should mark your calendars and make every effort to attend.  You won’t be disappointed.  Your understanding of soils and farming systems will be immeasurably increased.

   After years of effort, Heart of Maine RC & D has succeeded in once again securing Dr Andersen to teach this remarkable course.  Heart of Maine brought Arden here for another 3-day Soils School back around 2005. I was one of the fortunate one hundred farmers to attend that session. I say 'fortunate' because in thirty-five years of going to ag lectures and conferences, Arden is far and away the best presenter I have ever had the privilege to hear.  His breadth of knowledge - of soils and systems from a good-nutrition-is-good health-perspective is second to none. He is also blessed to be an exceptional, highly skilled teacher.

     In addition to being an agronomist, Dr Andersen is also a Flight Surgeon. For many years he has been deployed by the US military in helping keep gravely wounded soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan alive en route to the American military hospital in Germany. His schedule is always incredibly full and booked up years in advance.

    One of the serious holes in developing the viability of the good food movement is the lack among many farmers of a clear and correct understanding of soils systems. This knowledge is crucial to the success of every farmer and gardener.

     Dr. Anderson is the best way for farmers and serious gardeners to gain a clear foundation of soils and biology in a compact three-day window.  The cost (noontime meals included) for the three day course will be around $200 which is the bargain of the century. Registrations will open soon. Arden’s course is sure to sell out so don’t delay registering.  Find details here.


Click Here for our Wood Prairie Farm Organic Vegetable Seed


 Quotes: Henry David Thoreau on Living.

      “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and to see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

- Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau. Way ahead of the curve.

Scrumptious Scones. Photo by Angela Wotton.
Recipe: Whole Wheat Raspberry Ricotta Scones

1 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c sugar
1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
6 T unsalted butter, chilled
1 c raspberries
3/4 c whole-milk ricotta
1/3 c heavy cream

Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, sugar, and salt together.

Add the butter to flour mixture and cut with pastry blender until the butter is the size of small peas. Toss in the raspberries, and use the pastry blender again to break them in half.

With a flexible spatula, add the ricotta and heavy cream to the butter mixture and stir them to form a dough. Add more cream, 1 T at a time, if needed. Use your hands to knead the dough gently into an even mass in the bowl. Transfer dough to a well-floured surface and pat into a circular disk about 1-inch high. With a large knife, slice into six equal wedges. Transfer the scones to the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, until golden at the edges. Cool on the pan for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.


Special Offer: FREE Organic Hull-less Oat Cover Crop

     Organic Hull-less Oats are an excellent, fast growing cover crop that can be planted anytime during the growing season – Spring, Summer or Fall in the North, and Winter wherever temperatures are moderate. It is a reliable staple of our soil-saving cover cropping.  Everyone should keep a sack of Hull-less Oats on hand for seeding down a random corner of the garden as soon as a harvest is complete

    After our potato harvest we will spin oats onto the field as it is being chisel plowed.  The oats will grow until steady temperatures in the low 20s or teens – typically in November in Northern Maine – kill it, leaving behind a nice golden mat which covers and protects the soil until Spring.  That oat mat can be quickly incorporated in the Spring by simply discing or rototilling. 

     Here's your chance to earn a FREE 2 ½ lbs. sack of our Organic Hull-less Oat Seed (Value $9.95) when your next order totals $45 or more. FREE Organic Hull-less Oat Seed offer ends 11:59 PM on Monday, July 22, 2013, so better hurry!

     Please use Promo Code WPF1150. Your order and FREE Organic Hull-less Oat Seed must ship by 9/30/13. Offer may not be combined with other offers. Please call or click today!

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

Organic Hull-less Oat Cover Crop Seed. Versatile and Reliable.
Our Mailbox: Mulching Potatoes, Answer for Untalented Farmers & How Not to Feed the World.

Mulching Potatoes.

Dear WPF.

     What is the best method for hilling potatoes? Soil, straw? I have them in raised beds and wondered what would be best. Thank you! 


Grand Ledge, MI
WPF Replies.

Common to potato farmers everywhere we grow our potatoes in rows three feet apart. That gives us plenty of soil to hill up under the potato plants. Raised beds - typically intensively planted - rarely allow effective hilling with soil. Straw would be an excellent choice. It will not only protect the developing tubers from light, but straw mulch will conserve moisture, and as it decomposes it will noticeably improve the tilth of your soil.


Answer For Untalented Farmers.

Dear WPF.

     Alfalfa grows well but on many fields you only really get 4 years of harvest then it starts dying out and that becomes economically unviable given the cost of seed and the year lost to non production. Monsanto et al. can add selected genes to the alfalfa to tailor the crop for disease and insect resistance and optimal growth for the area it's planted in. Also profits. They control the seed source for these.


Newfield NY

WPF Replies.

     We don't grow alfalfa but my understanding is that - despite Monsanto's imaginary marketing - there is simply one GE trait involved in GE alfalfa. That single trait is the Roundup Resistance trait which allows the GE alfalfa sprayed with the dangerous broad spectrum chelator herbicide "Roundup." I'm told that prior to the release of RR alfalfa only about 10% of alfalfa acreage was sprayed with herbicide. More than one alfalfa farmer has told me it's only the untalented farmers that see the need to spray alfalfa.
     On our farm we grow clover. Our clover lasts two years which is perfect for our rotation. That alfalfa often runs out after 4 years is simply its characteristic nature. For farmers who rotate crops, four years seems like a good run for a great crop.


How Not to Feed the World.

Dear WPF.

     One question Jim from this L.A. Times Article, Government Farm Subsidies Help Make Americans Fat , how do we otherwise feed a huge overwhelming increasing population of eaters? Higher yields feed more people. Honest question.


Word Wide Web

WPF Replies.

     The topic you bring up is itself huge but let me offer some observations. Macro economics would indicate that whatever is taxed contracts and whatever is subsidized grows. The researchers have proven that US subsidy of "cheap sugars and oils" has in fact led to significantly increased production of the commodity crops which are then processed by Big Food into 'food-like' substances, the consumption of which makes us obese and unhealthy. As public policy this is insane because obese and unhealthy people are VERY expensive for society to take care of. The Feds have paid out $275 Billion dollars in farm subsidy to US farmers since 1995. Of those dollars, 80% went to the largest 10% of (corporate) farms. As family farmers who recieve about 2% of our income from government subsidy, we can tell you it is tough to compete with those large heavily subsidized operations. On the world scene, self-serving entities like Monsanto would have us believe that their GE technology is needed to feed the world's population. This is patently false on several counts including the fact that their GE crops do NOT yield higher than traditional crops. This article by Tom Philpott in Mother Jones, "How Not to 'Feed the World," offers valueable background on these false Monsanto assertions.


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