Wood Prairie Farm
 The Seed Piece Newsletter
             Organic News and Commentary
               Thursday September 12, 2013

 In This Issue of The Seed Piece:

    FREE Shipping Harvest Help Offer And Then Digging Begins.

      Potato Harvest Preview - September's Sampler of the Month.  We have been wet now for almost two months running. This most recent wet followed a month of Maine-style-drought.  That was preceded by another two months of wet.  Northern Maine’s display of climate chaos these past 8-10 years appears as very stubborn patterns of mostly wet accented by similarly stubborn periods of dry with little compromise between the two.  
      We’ll begin digging potatoes after this week’s current stormy stretch passes with more rain on the way for today and tonight. Last evening we had our first ever ‘Tornado Warning’ automated telephone calls from the NOAA Weather Office in Caribou.  Gratefully, no tornado landed in these parts. Investigators are now examining whether a tornado hit the 70-resident Oxbow Plantation, 25 miles due west of Wood Prairie Farm. Since that storm cell was traveling east at 40 MPH, we again thank Number Nine Mountain, our reliable protector six miles to our west for again keeping us safe in its shadow. We had lots of wind and rain but just one broken window and a few snapped trees.
      Our well-drained sandy loam soil will eventually dry and then we’ll begin digging potatoes, it looks like maybe by Sunday of this weekend.  Local schools close next week for the extended three-and-a-half week “Harvest Break” after a half-day Thursday.  By school’s close we like to have dug our seed plots, harvested some of the three early varieties destined for September Potato Sampler of the Month, Dark Red Norland, Yukon Gold and Caribe. It also gives us a chance to identify and repair any bugs we discover in our equipment.
      If you would like some good organic eating potatoes for your kitchen, call us and order a September Sampler and we’ll ship it on the next rainy day after the tubers are dug from our field.  
      If you place any order right now you will save big with our Harvest Help FREE Shipping! Offer.  But do hurry, because the FREE Shipping Offer on all our goods ends on Monday, September 16, at Midnight.
      What farmers in Northern Maine most need right now is a month or six weeks of dry weather to get the potato crop safely in and get Fall field work completed. We hope, wherever you are, that the weather holds and that you harvest good and bountiful crops.

 Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
 Wood Prairie Farm
 Bridgewater, Maine
(800) 829-9765

Click here for the Wood Prairie Farm Home Page.

OSGATA et al v. Monsanto. Petition filed with US Supreme Court.
 Interview Covers Principles At Stake in OSGATA et al v. Monsanto.
        In the aftermath of last Thursday’s Petition filing with the U.S. Supreme Court in Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al v. Monsanto, host Carol Grieve’ of Food Integrity Now conducted an informative interview (26:09) with Jim Gerritsen, President of lead Plaintiff, OSGATA.  Carol knows her subject matter well and as you will hear this makes for the best sort of interview.

   The landmark lawsuit seeks to invalidate Monsanto’s transgenic (GE) seed patents and gain Court protection for farmers who are at risk of patent infringement litigation should they become contaminated by Monsanto’s patented seed material. Farmers need protection and this is critical to every citizen so they may secure their right of access to  choice in the marketplace for an alternative to something besides genetically engineered food.

Click Here for Our Wood Prairie Farm Organic Seed Potato Section
See You at This Year's MOFGA Common Ground County Fair.

     If you are in New England, you have likely heard of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association’s premier event, the Common Ground Country Fair, held every year, the third weekend of September.  The Common Ground Country Fair is the largest organic gathering anywhere in North America. This year’s three day fair is the 37th Annual CGCF and it is coming up fast: next week, Friday through Sunday, September 20-22. Don’t miss it!

     Every year 60,000 people flood through the gates to the three-day agricultural event held at MOFGA’s beautiful Common Ground headquarters in the central Maine farming community of Unity.  Operations and logistics at the Fair are handled by a modest group of MOFGA staffers aided by nearly 2000 Fair Volunteers.

     If you have already attended, you know how unique the Common Ground Country Fair is with its eclectic ‘Celebration of Rural Living.’  You will enjoy hundreds of rural-themed activities, demonstrations, workshops, speakers, booths, vendors, services, farm animals, children’s fun, foods and the Organic Farmers Market. Most especially if you have never been to the Common Ground Fair, you must make plans to attend.  Once you do attend, we guarantee you will want to come back.  Since it is impossible to see everything in one day, plan to attend for two or even three days. Find the full Schedule of Events at the 2013 Common Ground Country Fair here.

     Since the Common Ground Fair occurs each year during Aroostook County’s potato harvest we don’t often make it down.  However, this year will be different.  We will be at the Common Ground Fair on Saturday, September 21, to participate in a Public Policy Teach-In from 200-330pm, entitled ‘Maine’s GMO Labeling Campaign – Where We Go From Here.’  On this Teach-in Panel: Representative Lance Harvell (R-Farmington) and Senator Chris Johnson (D-Lincoln), the two primary sponsors of LD 718, Maine’s recently passed historic GMO Label bill;  Laura Murphy, Vermont Law School professor and legal expert on GMO labeling; Wood Prairie Farm’s Jim Gerritsen, who helped MOFGA with its successful campaign.  Read the new two-part narrative from the Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener newspaper on MOFGA’s remarkable GMO Label Bill battle here.

Read Jim Gerritsen’s Keynote Address at the 2010 Common Ground Fair, “Thirty-Five Years of Watching the Maine Organic Community Grow,” here.

View Jim’s 2010 CGCF “Thirty Five Years”Address on YouTube here.

We hope to meet you on Saturday at the Common Ground Country Fair. See you there.

Jim & Megan

MOFGA Members Attend CGCF FREE! Click Here to Become a MOFGA Member Today.

America's Largest Organic Event. See you there.


Klari Baby Cheese Pepper. Good pepper, good seed.
FREE Seed Saving Guides

     Here are two valuable and concise seed-saving publications you will want to print out for reading and future reference.

     The first is written by our friend and organic seed farmer, Roberta Bailey of Seven Tree Farm in Vassalboro, Maine. It is entitled “Seed Saving on the Farm.”

     The second is Bulletin #2750 from the Maine Cooperative Extension Service, entitled, “An Introduction to Seed Saving for the Home Gardener.” It is written by our friend, Extension Vegetable Specialist Mark Hutton.  Mark has a background as a seed breeder.

     Both pieces are helpful and compliment one another.


Click Here for Our Wood Prairie Farm Organic Vegetable Seed.

Notable Quotes: Supreme Court Justice Story on US Patent Requirements.

     As Justice Story wrote in 1817, to be patentable, an invention must not be "injurious to the well-being, good policy, or sound morals of society" and "a new invention to poison people...is not a patentable invention"
     Because transgenic seed, and in particular Monsanto's transgenic seed, is "injurious to the well-being, good policy or sound morals of society" and threatens to "poison people", it is not patentable.
     The above represents one of four legal arguments based on U.S. Patent law which have been asserted in briefs by lawyers for the family farmers in Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al v. Monsanto.
     If the U.S. Supreme Court accepts our Petition - filed last week - we will argue and prove in Court that Monsanto's transgenic (GE) seed patents are all invalid. Thank you, Justice Story.

For background on the 1817 case, Lowell v. Lewis, click here.     

Associate Justice Joseph Story. Photo taken 1842. His interpretation on patents has stood up for almost 200 years.

A Delicious and Healthy Meal.
Photo by Angela Wotton.
Recipe: Potato Pepper Spanish Tortilla

1 T olive oil, plus more for serving
1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced 1/4" thick
1 pepper, ribs and seeds removed, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
8 large eggs
1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp hot sauce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add potatoes, pepper, and onion; season with salt and pepper. Cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are crisp-tender, 14-16 minutes. Uncover, and cook off excess liquid, about one minute.

In a bowl, whisk together eggs, parsley, hot sauce, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Pour mixture over vegetables in skillet, and gently stir to distribute evenly. With the back of a spatula, press down on vegetables so they lay flat and are submerged.

Bake in oven until set, about 15 minutes. To unmold, run a rubber spatula around edge of skillet to release tortilla; invert onto a serving plate. Drizzle with oil. Serve hot or room temperature.


Click Here for Wood Prairie Farm Potatoes for the Kitchen

Special Offer: FREE Shipping! Harvest Help FREE Shipping! on All Orders. Hurry! Limited Time! 

      Everyone knows farmers need help at Harvest.  So our Special Harvest Help FREE Shipping! Offer is our way of thanking you for your business and encouraging you to order right now - your FREE Shipping savings can be huge!  We need the extra cash flow for the expense of Fall Potato Harvest and if you act now you can save hundreds of dollars with FREE Shipping.

     Place your order now for any item in our Catalog or on our Webstore and get FREE Shipping regardless of whether you want your order to ship now, later this Fall, or in the Winter or Spring. So, yes, this Special Harvest Help FREE Shipping! Offer does apply to our Organic Certified Seed Potatoes and includes both home and Market Farmers.  But don’t worry: FREE Shipping also applies to our Organic Kitchen Potatoes, Organic Grain Goods, Organic Vegetable and Cover Crop Seed everything we offer!

     Please use Promo Code WPF1155.  Special Harvest Help FREE Shipping! Offer order will be processed now and order must ship by 5/9/14.  Order may not be combined with other offers or deals. Special Harvest Help FREE Shipping! Offer is for retail orders only and is limited to a maximum $300 shipping credit so you can SAVE BIG if you order NOW! Note: Subzero temperatures may delay mid-winter shipping. Questions? Call (800)829-9765! Special Harvest Help FREE Shipping! Offer ends Monday September 16, 2013 at Midnight so please call or click today!

Click here for our Wood Prairie Farm Organic Seed Potato Section

Wood Prairie Farm Potato Harvest. Digging spuds with our Finnish Juko harvester. Watch YouTube video (1:15) here.
Our Mailbox: Debunking Propaganda, Top Kill Headaches, The Disconnect's Foundation

Debunking Biotech Propaganda.

Dear WPF.

     I just thought I would share this article, Pa. considers labeling law for genetics that help achieve record yields of corn, soybeans. It mentions increased corn and soy crop yields and attributes it to genetic modification. PA had record rainfall this summer. I know from my own garden that this was a great benefit to some plants and very detrimental to others. I bought corn at local farm stands and it was outrageously delicious. It seems to me that the increased yields would be due to the increased rainfall. I'm not buying into this GM hype. What are your thoughts on this Jim?

World Wide Web

WPF Replies.

     Yes rain and favorable conditions can certainly increase yields. Monsanto would like people to believe that yield increase is due to their gene-spliced technology. However, that claim is false.
     The real credit is invariably due to the high quality seed genetics which have now come under the ownership of Monsanto. In the last 15 years the Anti-Trust Division at the US Dept of Justice has been asleep-at-the-wheel and allowed Monsanto to gain monopoly control of seed when Monsanto went on a buying spree of formerly independent seed companies. Through acquisition Monsanto now controls, for example, the world's top corn genetics. If farmers want access to these top corn genetics they must buy From Monsanto on Monsanto's terms and that usually means purchasing seed "stacked" with genetically engineered traits - whether or not the farmer desires to utilize those traits. Monopolies have no place in a free market and are a very real threat to our democracy.


Headaches From Top Kill

Dear WPF.

I  get atypical headaches, sinus problems, and nausea only to discover they are using top kill on the potato fields around here. Do you know what's in it? It's disturbing to see the incredibly high cancer rate in the area.

Presque Isle, ME

WPF Replies.

     I'm no expert on the chemicals that America's conventional potato farmers spray on their crops. That said, farmers use a 'desiccant' to kill down potatoes at the proper time to allow potatoes to thicken their skin for the rigors of harvest. We use propane flame on our organic seed potatoes to arrest the plant growth so the seed tubers will have higher vigor and give higher yields in the next generation. Anyway, I understand conventional farmers primarily use Sulfuric Acid in the West. In the East they mainly use Diquat (renamed the cheery "Reglone"), cousin to paraquat. I would guess Diquat is your problem. But here are some other possibilities. https://umaine.edu/potatoes/files/2010/03/Desiccants.pdf


Foundation of the Disconnect

Dear WPF.

     On rare occasions that I eat something that is not organic, I get pretty sick from it. When I was 8 years old my mom bought a no pest strip hanging thing that was supposed to kill flies. Both of us, my mom and I developed headaches and we got rid of that thing. That opened my eyes to the fact that for some people who can tolerate them pesticides may be an inexpensive tool to control pests. But for many of us who cannot detoxify these compounds rapidly, they are a poison to be avoided unless absolutely necessary. That is why I studied IPM and Entomology.....and then I heard the horror stories about the pesticide use in Africa from my high school Biology teacher who was herself from Kenya.
     I was once checking a field for the county extension service and a conventional potato grower sprayed me (they thought it was real funny and laughed and laughed) with something to kill the tops of the plants....I was so sick for 2+ weeks (no sick time, just time without pay on that minimum wage job back in the 80's) and 9 months later was tested in a pre hiring physical exam to have the lung capacity of a 95 year old. Turns out the farmer sprayed me with Paraquat...No one took it seriously, I was not sent to the doctor over it, just lost pay and kidded A LOT about being a big wimp.
     I do think though that the foundation of this disconnect is that these people do not get sick from the chemicals, at all. They may end up getting cancer from them, but they do not get sick. I had a friend in grad school and later we worked in ag in the San Joaquin Valley for about a decade before he moved to NC to work for a different company. He was a brilliant great guy who believed in organic farming, but could not see how it could be made economical. He was always employed by companies to reduce pesticide use  - a big part of real IPM programs. But he ran a lot of pesticide trials and did all of this sort of work. I cannot be near a chemical without getting ill and he was among the many that made fun of me. But he helped me a lot in going way back when, despite all the teasing. I got a call about a decade ago from his sister, he had died of cancer, but did not let anyone know he had it. I was sprayed with paraquat and I am lucky I did not die right then and there.

World Wide Web

WPF Replies.

     You provide very clear insight and levelheadedness. You have knowledge the people need to learn. They are not getting the understanding from elsewhere, certainly not from the public and private institutions purportedly designed to make their lives better. Thank you.


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