Wood Prairie Farm
 The Seed Piece Newsletter
             Organic News and Commentary
                        Friday August 02, 2013

 In This Issue of The Seed Piece:

    Wet Spring. Fast Summer.

     Newly Dug Prairie Blush Potatoes. Those Prairie Blush are destined for a delicious simple supper tonight when they will be steamed and joined by a good potato’s three best friends: butter, salt and pepper. If you have never tasted new potatoes fresh out of your garden, promise yourself  to change that as soon as you can.  If you lack a patch to grow potatoes in, our fiber-material container Smart Bags may be just what you need to grow your own on a back deck.
     Our wet spring - and the planting delay that it caused - means that most of our crop is two weeks behind ‘normal.’ The rains have returned and with the hot days of July and now August, our potato crop is growing fast and looks excellent.
     We hope the weather where you are has allowed you to grow and enjoy bountiful crops.
     A lot of folks are ordering organic cover crop seed from us this time of year and if you need some just let us know.

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

Click here for the Wood Prairie Farm Home Page.

Village Voice: Maine farmer Jim Gerritsen says that “Monsanto and the biotechs need to respect traditional property rights and need to keep their pollution on their side of the fence.”
Village Voice: The Monsanto Menace.

You will want to read this significant recent expose’ on Monsanto by Village Voice researcher Chris Parker entitled “The Monsanto Menace.”  The piece is well-written and provides insight into Monsanto’s effort to define how it should be “regulated.”

What follows are excerpts from Parker’s article.

"’They're a pesticide company that's bought up seed firms,’ says Bill Freese, a scientist at the Center for Food Safety, a nonprofit public-interest and environmental-advocacy group. ‘Business-wise, it's a beautiful, really smart strategy. It's just awful for agriculture and the environment…

“Corporations wanted more control, and they got it with a dramatic, landmark Supreme Court decision in 1980, which allowed the patenting of living organisms. The decision was intended to increase research and innovation. But it had the opposite effect, encouraging market concentration.  Monsanto would soon go on its buying spree, gobbling up every rival seed company in sight...

“In one case, Monsanto accused Indiana farmer David Runyon of illegally using its soybean seeds. Runyon claims the company threatened to sue for patent infringement, despite documentation proving that he'd bought non-patented seed from local universities for years. Monsanto's lawyer claimed the company had an agreement with the Indiana Department of Agriculture to search his land.  One problem: Indiana didn't have a Department of Agriculture at the time...

“’Known as 'substantial equivalence,' it declared that genetically modified products are essentially the same as their non-GM counterparts—and therefore require no additional labeling or testing for food safety or toxicity. Never mind that no accepted science backed his theory.  ‘It's simply a political calculation invented by Michael Taylor and Monsanto and adopted by U.S. federal policy-makers to resist labeling,’ says Jim Gerritsen, a farmer in Maine. ‘You have this collusion between corporations and the government, and the essence is that the people's interest isn't being served.’”

Click Here for our Wood Prairie Farm Organic Cover Crops Section.
MOFGA Hires Ted Quaday as New Leader.

   The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) has filled the position of Executive Director with the hiring of Ted Quaday.  A longtime leader in sustainable agriculture, Ted’s career includes long stints at Farm Aid in Massachusetts and Organic Farm Research Foundation (OFRF) in California.  Ted will be in attendance in September at the famous MOFGA Common Ground Country Fair in Unity.  Soon after that he will begin his directing responsibilities. Here is Ted’s Facebook wall if you would like to send a welcome to him yourself.

    MOFGA has been called the most important agricultural organization in the State of Maine.  MOFGA was recently successful in its campaign to pass a Right to Know GMO Labeling bill for Maine. The GMO label bill was passed with near unanimous support by both Houses of the Maine Legislature.  Maine Governor Paul LePage has issued a written promise to the Legislature that he will sign LD 718 into law when the Legislature reconvenes in January 2014.

 MOFGA’s longtime leader and national visionary, Russell Libby resigned from his position as MOFGA’s Executive Director last October.  Russell became MOFGA’s Senior Policy Advisor and continued in that capacity until his untimely death in December.  Find Russell Libby’s obituary in the New York Times here, and his keynote speech at the 2012 MOFGA Farmer to Farmer Conference here.

Click Here to Support MOFGA’s Mission by Becoming a Member Today.

Ted Quaday. Welcome to the State of Maine.


Arden Andersen. Maine. November See you there..
 Registration Now OPEN and Minor Date Change for Dr. Arden Anderson Soil School.

     As reported in our last Seed Piece, noted soil agronomist and medical doctor Arden Andersen will be presenting a  MUST SEE Soils Course in Bangor, Maine this Fall.  An unavoidable scheduling conflict has resulted in a shift of course dates to Thursday, Friday, Saturday Nov 14-16.  Days 1 & 2 will focus on Soils content.  Day 3 will shift to the role agriculture plays in human and planetary health and will appeal to everyone.  One may sign up for all three days  - OR – for the third day alone - not just farmers and gardeners.  Discounts are available if registered on or before Sept 30. Registrations are now open and the event is sure to sell out so don’t delay. Find full course details including course content and Registration here.


Click here for the Essential Books Section of our Wood Prairie Farm website.

 Quotes: David Suzuki.

      "Any politician who tells you these products (GMOs) are safe is either very stupid or lying. The hazards of these foods are uncertain. In view of our enormous ignorance, the premature application of biotechnology is downright dangerous."

- David Suzuki, Ph.D.
Born 1936

Environmentalist David Suzuki. He has done his homework on GMOs.

Wonderful Mashed Potato Variation. Photo by Angela Wotton.
Recipe: Kale & Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes

3 lbs potatoes, such as Carola, peeled and cut into large chunks
sea salt
4 T extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch kale, large stems stripped and discarded, leaves chopped
1/2 c + milk or cream
freshly ground black pepper
5 scallions, white and tender green parts, chopped (optional)

Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Heat 2 T of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, chopped kale, a big pinch of salt and saute just until tender, about a minute. Set aside.

Mash the potatoes with a masher or fork. Slowly stir in the milk a few big splashes at a time. You are after a thick, creamy texture. Season with salt and pepper. Dump the kale on top of the potatoes and give a quick stir (stirring in the kale too much can lend a green cast to your potatoes). Make a well in the center of the potatoes and pour the remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with scallions if using.

Serves 6

Special Offer: FREE Cobrahead Hand Weeder

     We were happy when the New York Times highlighted our Cobrahead Hand Weeder in a recent article on well-designed gardening tools. We use both the short and long handle versions of the Cobrahead here on Wood Prairie Farm and they are both excellent tools. Cobraheads are 'heirloom' tools that are so rugged you will be able to hand down to your children. Friends of ours in Wisconsin - Noel Valdes and his family business - make the Cobraheads for us. Noel and Jim serve together on the Board of Directors of the national Direct Gardening Association based in Georgia. Noel and family are ecologically-minded and run a wonderful small business we are happy to support. 

     Here's your chance to earn a FREE Cobrahead Hand Weeder (Value $24.95) when your next order totals $65 or more. FREE Cobrahead Hand Weeder offer ends 11:59 PM on Monday, August 5, 2013, so better hurry!

     Please use Promo Code WPF1151. Your order and FREE Cobrahead Hand Weeder must ship by 8/31/13. Offer may not be combined with other offers. Please call or click today!

Click Here for our Wood Prairie Farm Garden Tool Section.

Cobrahead. Short handle version.
Our Mailbox: Great Basin, Shameful Corporations & Stopping CPB.

Growing in Nevada's Great Basin.

Dear WPF.

     I live in the Great Basin of Nevada where our soils are highly alkaline, rocky silt / clay. There is virtually no organic matter except for a few native grasses and a preponderance of drought resistent noxious weeds which are not even fit for wildlife consumption.
     Last year I planted a large plot of buckwheat, which grew so fast that I was able to dig it under and plant yellow and alsike clover (from your farm) in its place. The buckwheat really improved the texture of our soil and choked out most of the weeds. This spring and summer the clover has come on strong keeping most of the weeds at bay and attracting bumble bees and butterflies. Deer keep the alsike clover "mowed", but never touch the yellow clover. Thank you for a great product!


Eureka NV

WPF Replies.

     Thanks for your letter. We're always happy to hear when our organic seed performs well and you put it to the test.


Shameful Corporations.

Dear WPF.

     Thanks for posting Caitlin Shetterly's article "The Bad Seed." I try to buy organics as much as possible and buy products already voluntarily labeled as non GMOs. I sign every petition that comes my way. I am growing my own vegetables from heirloom seeds. Still, I worry...is it too late to save our country from GMOs or have they become so ingrained in our ecosystem that we will never get rid of them? It is shameful what giant corporations hand in hand with our government agencies like the FDA has done to our people, with no sense of right and wrong, responsibility, or ethical standards of any kind. It is sickening that profit became more important that the health of our children and the future of our planet.


World Wide Web

WPF Replies.

     Biotech crops are grown on a massive scale - tens of millions of acres - but virtually all of that acreage is limited to just six industrial crops: corn, soy, canola, cotton, sugar beets and alfalfa. That means the biological spectrum for contamination is relatively narrow at this point. However many more GE crops are now awaiting government approval. So now is the time to fight GE crops. In the meantime we need to protect our families. Our view is the primary point of entry for GE food into the human diet is processed food. So be very wary what processed food you eat and do buy organic. Even better, buy organic staples - which are a bargain compared to processed food - and cook from scratch. Wheat, oats, rice and sunflowers (oil) are not GE and can form the basis of an excellent diet to supplement the good things - including potatoes, squash and root vegetables - you grow in your garden. Diets in northern climates - where winters are long and growing season short - usually rely on concentrated animal protein. So going one step further, a mlk cow - like the Irish Dexters we own - provide milk from clover forage and the mlk can be made into yogurt, cheese and butter. Waste milk and cull veggies can be fed to pigs - like the Guinea Hogs we raise - which helps diversify one's source of animal protein. One can choose whatever level of involvement one wants with their family's food. But run - don't walk - away from what Big Food has in store for you.


Stopping CPB.

Dear WPF.

     Hi Jim, Good day to you! I am needing advice. I have an issue now with the Colorado Potato Beetles in my organic potato patch...raised bed...and wondered if you could give me advice on how to part with these invasive pests. It stinks. Organic gardening is no joke. LOL! Hard...HARD work. I want to keep it all organic though.


World Wide Web

WPF Replies.

     The best way to control CPB is to crush the orange egg masses with your thumb and forefinger and pick the adults and larvae into a disposal container 2x-3x per week. This is practical on a scale of up to 400 row feet. The technique works in direct correlation to the fidelity of one's efforts. An alternative is the biological control named 'Entrust' by Dow. https://www.dowagro.com/usag/prod/082.htm. A similar product for gardeners we've seen here in Maine is "Captain Jack's Dead Bug Brew" (about $20 for a 16oz container). Jim.

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