Wood Prairie Farm                                     In This Issue of The Seed Piece: 
 Seed Piece Newsletter                       Maine Tales: Aroostook Farmers Connect With Wendell Berry.
      Organic News and Commentary
                                       The Money Behind California Prop 37.
      Wednesday September 12, 2012                                       Recipe: Beets with Walnuts, Goat Cheese and Baby Spinach.
                                                                                                                    Final Days! Harvest Help Offer: FREE Shipping On All Orders!
                                                                                                                    Mailbox: Gaining Momentum & Tobacco Playbook.

        On The Eve of Harvest.

     Flame-Killing Potatoes. While not often done in home or market gardens, potatoes are commonly killed on certified seed potato farms in order to arrest tuber development at a juvenile  stage of growth.  Done correctly, this practice will translate into more vigorous seed potatoes that possess a higher yield potential in the next generation. Table and process potato growers similarly utilize crop killing ‘desiccants’ in order to control and schedule harvesting operations. In the East, farmers use the broad spectrum herbicide ‘Reglone’ - the new soft and fuzzy name for ‘Diquat’ (cousin of the herbicide ‘Paraquat,’ which is sprayed to kill marijuana fields in Mexico).  In the West, farmers kill potatoes with sulfuric acid. Chemical top kills have been banned in Holland for decades. On Wood Prairie Farm we use propane flame to kill our organic seed potatoes.  In the photo above, as the Fall days get shorter, Jim flame-kills late variety seed potatoes into the night ahead of harvest. Aroostook County schools close for the three week Potato Harvest Recess this Friday.  Flame-killing and potato seed plot harvest are two of the jobs we like to finish up before we go into full bore ‘digging’ with a big harvest crew. 

Maine Tales.              Aroostook Farmers Connect with Wendell Berry.          Presque Isle, Maine.     Circa 1984.

Abandoned Farmhouse. Washington State. (Photo Credit Homini)

     “America: Becoming a Land Without Farmers” is the title of an excellent must read article written by Evaggelos Vallianatos which ably describes the colossal magnitude of the modern and heartbreaking family farmer exodus from the land.  To those of us who have lived in rural America over the past decades Evaggelos’ words ring true to our observation and experience.  The family farmers pushed from the land were never asked whether they wanted to go or not.  And America is much less of a country as a result. Writes Evaggelos:

     “The plutocratic remaking of America has a parallel in the countryside. In rural America less than 3 percent of farmers make more than 63 percent of the money, including government subsidies.

     “The results of this emerging feudal economy are everywhere. Large areas of the United States are becoming impoverished farm towns with abandoned farmhouses and deserted land. More and more of the countryside has been devoted to massive factory farms and plantations. The consequences, though worse now than ever, have been there for all to see and feel, for decades….

     “Walter Goldschmidt, an anthropologist with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) was already documenting the deleterious effects of agribusiness on small communities in California’s Central Valley as long ago as the 1940s.  He revealed that a community (he studied the town of Dinuba in northern Tulare County) with small family farmers thrived. Its economy and cultural life were vigorous and democratic. Thus the Dinuba of 1940 was a middle-class town whose residents were not divided in any significant manner by differences in wealth. They had a stable income and strong interest in the life of their community….

      “For Goldschmidt the family farm was ‘the classic example’ of American small business. He became convinced that its spread over the land ‘has laid the economic base for the liberties and the democratic institutions which this Nation counts as its greatest asset.’”

     Now this article got our thoughts to go back quite a ways.  One Fall, after digging, over twenty-five years ago, Kentucky farmer and essayist Wendell Berry was here in Aroostook County for a few days, a visit connected to a lecture he delivered at our local college.  In a related casual social setting, Wendell was speaking with a small group of local organic farmers about the very serious problems facing agriculture.  Wendell expressed to us his belief that the ‘bad’ farmers had long before exited agriculture.  Those being forced off the land he said - at that time 25 years ago - were the good farmers, because it was only the good farmers that were left farming.  Those being cast off the farm were victims of a hostile and intolerant system.   Sadly, since Wendell’s 1980s visit, the forced-farmer-exodus has continued unabated.

     However, the truth is this: if we have the wisdom and the will, we can turn things around.  We should ask ourselves:  do we want our food supply controlled by mega-farms and Big Ag corporations?  Or do we want access for our families to good clean food grown by family farmers who are members of their communities and champions of our democracy? 

     Each single food dollar we spend with a family farmer in reality has double impact:  the family farm economy is supported and enlarged by that conscious-dollar-purchase, and simultaneously, a dollar is denied the clutches of Big Ag and the biotech/chemical bullies.

     The ‘experts’ have mangled up food and agriculture for long enough.  It’s now past time for the people to re-assert our control over our food and over our country and over our lives. It starts with how we live, how we spend, and what we are willing to stand up for.  Today is a real good day to begin.

Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
Wood Prairie Farm
Bridgewater, Maine
Click here for the Wood Prairie Farm Home Page

The Money Behind California Prop 37.

'Yes' Continues to Lead in Polls. Prop 37 The People's Right-to-Know GMO Labeling Initiative.

Upscale Beets. Yummy indeed. Photo by Angela Wotton.
Recipe: Beets with Walnuts,
                                                    Goat Cheese and Spinach

6 medium beets, about 1 1/2 pounds
1 cup water
8 cups baby spinach
1 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsely leaves
1 T balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 c (2 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Leave root and 1-inch stem on beets; scrub with a brush. Place beets and 1 cup water in a glass baking dish; cover tightly with foil. Bake at 375 for about 1 hour or until tender. Cool beets slightly. Trim off roots and rub off skins. Cut beets into wedges and cool completely.

Place spinach and parsley in a large bowl; toss. Combine vinegar, salt, and pepper, stirring with a whisk. Whisk in oil. Drizzle dressing over greens and toss gently. Arrange  salad on each of 6 plates; top evenly with beets, cheese and nuts.


Adapted from:  Cooking Light, April, 2011

Final Days! Harvest Help Offer:
        FREE Shipping
On All Orders! Ends This Saturday!

     We’re now upon the last days of our incredible Harvest Help FREE Shipping! Offer.

     Order now exactly what you want and we can ship as soon as your items are available – or – store them here on Wood Prairie Farm in our state-of-the-art storage facilities and ship to you anytime you desire this Fall, Winter or Spring!

     Please use Promo Code WPF1128.  Harvest Help FREE Shipping! Offer must ship by 5/1/13.  Order may not be combined with other offers or deals. Goods ordered must exceed $50 in good ordered.  FREE Shipping Offer limited to a $300 value. Subzero temperatures may delay mid-Winter shipping. Harvest Help FREE Shipping! Offer ends this Saturday, September 15, 2012 so please call or click today!

Click here for our Wood Prairie Farm Organic Seed Potato Section

Good Organic Seed. Buy now, can ship later.
Our Mailbox: Gaining Momentum & Tobacco Playbook

Gaining Momentum

Dear WPF.
     Jim, your piece on Stanford's Sell out Exposed is excellent! Thanks for all that you do. I am getting more and more hopeful that change is coming with public awareness and interest in health and the environment.

World Wide Web

WPF Replies.

     Thanks for your encouragement. I believe we do have momentum.


Tobacco Playbook

Dear WPF.
     Thank you for the facts in the Prop 37 / Stanford BS connection! I am surprised beyond belief at some of my very smart small farmer friends' ignorance on this issue, and grateful to you for the materials to educate them! Good grief - how do these big corps manage to screw with peoples' minds so successfully?

Purcellville, NH

WPF Replies.

     Biotech is employing former tobacco lobbyists in their disinformation campaign to defeat Prop 37. Those lobbyists are deft at deploying the Tobacco Lie playbook because they wrote it. Here is a good rebuttal to the Stanford Study by well-respected organic community member Jim Riddle of Minnesota.


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