August 05 2015
Volume 22 Issue 16
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Issue of The Seed Piece:
Thunderclouds Developing Over Wood Prairie Farm. We
have a four-year rotation which means every fourth year we grow our
crop of organic seed potatoes on the home farm near our house and farm
buildings. This photo was taken early this afternoon looking west from
the second story of our home. The nearest field, with potatoes passing
out of bloom stage, has from front to back - Butte,
Cloud. The second field in the distance has
mid-season potatoes plus our variety trials. All told, this year we
have five fields of potatoes, all located on the home farm.
The triple-stacked wooden pallet boxes
in the foreground are what we harvest our crops of organic seed
potatoes into. The potatoes then store there for the duration of winter
in our underground potato storage. Each rugged pallet box holds 2000
pounds of tubers.
Today's clouds have thickened and given
us frequent bursts of rain - very much welcome when those showers come
gently and without wind or hail. It's at this stage of potato growth,
called "tuber bulking" that potatoes need plenty of water in order for
the tubers to size up.
Our friends at Misty Brook Farm
down in Albion experienced a wild storm last week which caused a lot of
damage. Please scroll down to read
their story and learn how you can help. Thanks!
Megan Gerritsen & Family
Click here for the
Wood Prairie Farm Home Page.
Maine Circa 2015.
Ask anybody in Aroostook County when “Fair Time”
is and they will tell you it’s the beginning of August.
That’s when the Northern Maine Fair in Presque Isle happens.
And that’s when it has been going on for as long as anyone can remember.
Fair time in Northern Maine is at once
the bittersweet peak
of Summer and the beginning
of its end. One local farmer,
conveying unspoken angst about that impending demise once commented
disapprovingly about a neighbor who seemed to always be late getting
around to cutting hay. To make his point, very direct and
with escaped judgementalism, he allowed, “He don’t cut hay til it’s Fair
Being pretty busy on the farm we don’t
always take the time off to go to the Fair. If we do go,
dollars to donuts, a Demolition Derby will be in the offing. National
media may be wringing hands over the anticipated
decline of the institution of Demolition Derbys, but that news story
has not made its way to Presque Isle. This annual event still
draws loads of cars and piles of people.
Last Saturday night was the
Demolition Derby at the Fair. Late entrants were our son Caleb and his
best friend, Zack Sargent. The Sargent clan’s veteran ’89 Lincoln Town car –
survivor from last year’s Derby – unexpectedly came up for
grabs with just days to spare.
Zack’s younger brother Sam,
heir to the Lincoln – this year a high school Senior - decided on
Thursday he’d rather spend his Saturday night seeing the tractor pulls over on Prince
Edward Island. So off he went with his boss,
eighth generation potato farmer Ethan Bradstreet. Ethan, just
graduated high school in June, and - in the Bridgewater tradition begun
two decades ago by his father, Ryan - is signed up for the Diesel
Hydraulics program beginning this Fall at Northern Maine Community
College. Our Caleb finished his two-year Diesel Hydraulics program a
year ago in May. And our farmhand, Justin, got his Diesel
Hydraulics degree this last May. These boys are all about
So, they didn’t have a lot of time to
make strategic improvements – such as relocating and re-plumbing the
radiator to the car roof as they’ve done in the past.
However, safety requirements were in place: windows removed, engine hood and door latches
disabled and replaced with logging chain – easy for the
attendant firefighters to snip open with bolt cutters should there be
an engine fire or driver injury.
Zack’s successful driving in
the initial free-for-all landed their heavy Lincoln #07 into the Final
Round. Caleb, driving second in the Finals, battled his way
into 4th place. He suffered a sharp blow to the front end
which shoved the radiator into the engine plus another side hit which crushed a
rear wheel and broke the drive-axle-tube.
Despite all this destruction, limping
along Caleb maintained mobility and somewhat
miraculously drove around the course until the very end of
the Final round.
First Place Saturday night paid
$1000. The boys received $50
for their Fourth place finish – enough to pay for
gas. Plus they’ll get a couple of hundred bucks for scrap
metal when they take the Lincoln to the local junk yard
crusher. Not bad for a memorable Saturday night during Fair
For Sale: 1989 Lincoln Town Car. Runs
but needs repair. Radio works.
Offer: FREE Organic
Buckwheat Cover Crop Seed.
Cover crops are good for your soil! Organic
Buckwheat is a fast-growing work-horse cover
crop which we grow extensively every
year on Wood Prairie Farm. Organic Buckwheat thrives on poor
soils, smoothers competing weeds and its roots reach deep bringing
Phosphorus to the soil surface where your next crop will reap benefits
from the freed-up available P.
Here’s your chance
to get a FREE 2.5 lbs Sack of Wood
Prairie Farm Organic Buckwheat Cover Crop Seed (Value
$9.95) on your next order where the goods total $35 or more.
Please use Promo Code
WPF468. Your order and FREE
Wood Prairie Farm Organic Buckwheat Cover Crop Seed must
ship by 8/31/15. Offer Expires 11:59p.m., Monday, August 10, so better
Here for our Wood Prairie Farm Organic Cover Crop Section.
Soil A Boost. Buckwheat is great for your soil.
Organic Jersey Cows Grazing on
Misty Brook Farm. A severe microburst last week
shattered the serenity.
| Maine's Certified Organic Misty Brook
Farm Needs Our Help to Recover From Weather Disaster.
Eight days ago a severe microburst storm raised havoc with
Misty Brook Farm, a MOFGA-Certified Organic farm in the Central Maine
town of Albion.
A powerful thunderstorm with torrential
rains, 70 MPH winds and ping-pong-ball-sized hail, caused extensive
damage to crops, livestock and buildings. Read
the story here
along with details on how we all
Monetary donations are needed
immediately. These are good organic farmers with a young
family. Please join us and help if you can, by making a
donation via credit card, Paypal or snail mail. Find
details for donating here.
Jim & Megan
On Monsanto's Dark Act.
In the last Wood
Prairie Farm Seed Piece we reported on the
imminent vote in the U.S House of Representatives over H.R. 1599 ‘DARK’
(Deny Americans the Right to-Know) Act. The
Orwellian-sounding and falsely-named “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling
Act’ would pre-empt States from passing their own mandatory GMO
Labeling Laws and instead establish a “voluntary” system for
could expect a voluntary GMO labeling system to work every bit as well
as a voluntary income tax.
The dreaded DARK Act was passed by the House, 275-150. Both
of Maine’s members of Congress – Chellie Pingree (D-ME)and Bruce
Poloquin (R-ME) – voted the correct way - against the bill. Check
out this link to see how your Congressman voted on H.R. 1599.
The DARK Act – or a Senate facsimile - is expected to see action in the
U.S. Senate in September, after the August break. Proponents of the DARK Act admit
they do not have the sixty votes needed for passage in the Senate.
But we'll need to fight in order to win. Now is the time to contact
your two Senators and let them know that like
93% of Americans we want our right-to-know when it comes to GMO
Labeling and we oppose the DARK Act.
Here for our Wood Prairie Farm Certified Organic Vegetable Seed.
Onto the U.S.
Senate. If we work hard we can defeat the DARK Act in the
Use waxy potatoes or Yukon
, etc for this salad.
Cook in salted boiling water until tender:
1 1/2 lbs waxy potatoes
Drain, cool, peel, and cut into bite-size pieces. Place in a mixing
Cook in simmering water for 9 minutes:
2 Eggs, at room temperature
Cool in cold water and peel.
1 T wine, cider, or rice wine vinegar
Fresh-ground black pepper
Pour over the potatoes, stir gently, and let sit for 7 minutes or so to
allow the potatoes to absorb the vinegar.
di Milano Onion
, cut into small dice or very thinly sliced
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
Mix carefully. Taste for salt and vinegar, and add more as needed. Chop
the eggs and gently stir into the potatoes with:
1 T chopped chives
Photo by Angela Wotton.
Organic Stamp. Our Mailbox:
Organic Stamp and When to Harvest Potatoes.
cost a business $25,000 to get an organic stamp on their product?
We've been a certified organic farm in
Maine for 33 years. In addition to growing organic crops and livestock
we have a small on-farm mill and we manufacture organic products like
wheat flour, rolled oats and pancake mix. We are charged $1,800 a year
by MOFGA to go through the organic certification process for our
operation. Like most organic farmers we get cost-share help from the
USDA for this mandatory program which cuts down our out-of-pocket
I can imagine large businesses might
pay $25,000 but not smaller ones and family farms.
When to Harvest
Your potato growing guide says to wait for the foliage to
die down before harvesting but I have read in other books you should
wait 2 weeks after they die down for the best storage - what do you
Thanks for the great potatoes! I hope
the Adirondack Blue seed potatoes do well this year. They are hands
down my favorite blue potato!
advice and that of the book are trying to say the same thing. The skins
on the tubers thicken (lose moisture) as the tops die. In our Maine
soils, when typical early Fall conditions of both soil moisture and
soil temperature, the skins are 'set' and the tubers ready to harvest
by the time the tops become completely dead: dry and totally free of
living green material. If the soil is cooler or drier than the skin set
will take a bit longer. You will know the tubers are ready for harvest
if the tuber skin is undamaged by the harvest process. On the other
hand, if the skin is being roughed up - a condition called 'feathering'
- you will know that you should postpone harvest for a few days or a
week in order for the skins to more fully set.
|Wood Prairie Farm Quick
& Megan Gerritsen
Certified Organic, Direct from the Farm