Prairie Seed Piece
September 15th 2016
24 Issue 16
Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:
Potato Harvest, 1906. One hundred ten years ago
here’s what a successful potato harvest in nearby Houlton, Maine,
looked like. If we had to guess we’d say those spuds are
likely to be the famous Green Mountain variety which had been
introduced just twenty years prior. Green
Mountains are a tasty – albeit disease prone –
variety with dry flakey flesh. No longer commonly grown, it
maintains a reputation for quality. Today our Butte Russet
would be closest in texture and flavor to the old Green Mountains.
Today was the last day of
school. Tomorrow begins the three-week-long Potato Harvest
Break, observed continuously in Aroostook County since just after World
War II, allowing local students the opportunity to help area farmers
get their crop safely harvested and under cover.
So it is by no sheer
coincidence that this edition of the Wood Prairie Seed Piece
is being sent out tonight. For tomorrow, with clear weather
ahead, we’re ready for dirt, dust and digging that is potato harvest.
Megan Gerritsen & Family
Prairie Family Farm
Click here for the
Wood Prairie Family Farm Home Page.
You Always Wanted to Know About Growing Potatoes - And Then Some.
Twenty years ago, Chris Blanchard and his family
farmed in Maine and back in those years we became fast
friends. They were good farmers. Their two boys and
our two boys were about the same age. In time they moved to
farm out in the Midwest.
helps to train and educate farmers in a business he calls the Purple
. In the organic farmer
sub-culture, Purple Pitchfork is most famous for a wildly popular
series of weekly Farmer-to-Farmer
in which notable farmers are
interviewed. If you should happen to drive by an organic farm
and see a farmer doing tractor work – and that farmer has headphones on
- she may well be listening to Chris’ latest podcast.
recently interviewed by Chris for his Farmer-to-Farmer podcast
series. That recorded interview became Episode
83: Jim Gerritsen of Wood Prairie Family Farm Takes Us to Potato School
Here’s what you can
expect to hear:
orientation to the history of Wood Prairie Family Farm and the potato
culture of Aroostook County, we dig into the whys and the hows of
growing a great crop of from seed warming and green sprouting through
weed control to harvest. We also discuss the ins and outs of producing
Maine-certified potato seed. Jim is an observant and specific farmer
and marketer, and really brings out the details of what goes into
bumper yields and high quality spuds.
Named by the
editors of the Utne Reader to the magazine’s 2011 list of 25 “People
Who Are Changing the World,” Jim is also one of those organic farmers
who spends a large part of his time serving the community. Jim is the
president of the “Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association,” and has
served for more than twenty years on the Maine Organic Farmers and
Gardeners Association (MOFGA) certification committee, along with about
a dozen other roles that he has played in the organic farming movement.
We live and farm in
potato country and there are a lot of stories and potato lore to
share. Listen in and we think you might just learn something.
Jim & Megan
Here for Our Wood Prairie Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes.
Offer: FREE Organic
September Potato Sampler of the Month.
Tomorrow we start to dig this year’s crop of
potatoes. The next rainy day after that we’ll start to ship
the September offering of our popular Organic
Potato Sampler of the Month Club.
month’s Potato Sampler varieties are all short season favorites: Yukon
Here’s your chance to get a FREE 8 lbs. Organic
September Potato Sampler
(Value $39.95) – for your own
family or as a gift - when you order a new Eight-Month Club
extend by Eight-Months, a current Potato Sampler Club membership). FREE Organic September Potato
- offer ends Midnight on Monday, September 19,
2016, so please hurry and order today!
Please use Promo Code WPF495
. Your order
will ship as soon as possible this month. Offer may not be
combined with other offers. Limit: 7 Potato Club Memberships
including home and gift orders.
Please call or click today!
Here for our Wood Prairie Specialty Kitchen Potato Section.
Wood Prairie Organic Potato Sampler. Enjoy the gift of
eating our good organic Maine potatoes.
Common Ground Country Fair. Threee days and 60,000
Miss Maine's Common Ground Country Fair!
Maine’s most famous and fascinating fair, the
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) Common
Ground Country Fair
- an annual
celebration of rural living - is right around the corner.
mark the 40th consecutive year for MOFGA’s Common Ground
Fair. The three-day event is always held the first
Friday-Saturday-Sunday following the Autumnal Equinox. This year, the dates will be
styled after old-time country agricultural fairs, you won’t find midway
roller coaster rides and junk food at the Common Ground Fair.
Instead, what you will find are a dizzying
array of booths and presentations aimed to educate and entertain people
of all ages interested in living – and succeeding at - the good
You’ll find a
Farmers Market consistently solely of local Maine organic farmers
selling the organic crops and products they have grown and made (from
jams to sausage) on their farms. You’ll be stunned at the
Exhibition Hall’s vast display of ribboned-award-winning Maine grown
And there’s the seemingly
endless schedule of wholesome activities aimed at children.
This is truly a family-friendly country life extravaganza.
Every year, 60,000 people make the pilgrimage to the central Maine town
of Unity in order to attend the Common Ground Fair, making this far and away the largest
organic event in North America.
Folks come to
the Fair from all over Maine, New England and across the United States.
It’s not possible to see everything at the Fair in a single
day. But if that’s all the time you have, do come
anyway. If you have never been, you must make the effort this
year or next to attend the Common Ground Fair.
Once you do, you will want to come again and again. We
Jim & Megan
Here for our Wood Prairie Organic Cover Crop Seed.
County, Maine. Circa 1940.
Photographers are artists and artists have the
power to affect us as mind-altering agents. They can
transport us to new places and provide us with fresh insight.
Jack Delano was a very talented
documentary photographer, who in 1940, was working for the federal Farm
Security Administration tasked with capturing images of rural America
and Americans. Recently, thousands of his photographs were
posted on online including a collection of over 600
of his powerful photos taken in 1940 in Aroostook County.
Mr. Delano was born Jacob
Ovcharov in Ukraine in 1914. His family immigrated
to the United States in 1923. In time, Mr. Delano chose to
take on a new Americanized name.
article in the New York Times tells us about
Jack’s life and offered this insight into the amazing man behind these
priceless photographs which document what life was like in an earlier
touchstone as a documentary photographer was Paul Strand’s imperative
that one had to have “a real respect for the thing in front of him.”
Through his long career – photographing everything from coal miners,
sharecroppers, railroad men and Puerto Rican canecutters – he conveyed
a deep respect for not just the travails of Everyman, but a true
appreciation of the dignity that lay within.
We have enjoyed and used some of Jack Delano’s photographs before in
previous issues of the Wood Prairie
Seed Piece. We think you will enjoy
this glimpse into the past. Thank you, Jack.
Jim & Megan
Here for our Wood Prairie Organic Vegetable Seed.
Rolling Contest, Presque Isle, Maine, 1940. One of many
Jack Delano photographs.
|Albert Einstein on Genius.
Yogurt Drop Scones.
2 cups Wood Prairie Pancake Mix
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp grated lemon peel
¼ cup butter, cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or
fork until the texture of sand.
1 cup yogurt, plain or flavored, with:
Blend wet ingredients with dry, then fold in:
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto a greased cookie
sheet. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes until lightly
Add to the Blueberries: ¼ cup walnuts, ¼ cup flax seed; or substitute
half and half chopped cranberries, finely chopped apple, or other fruit.
Top before baking with cinnamon sugar if you like.
Adapted from a recipe I found on Allrecipes.com.
These are moist and delicious – they remind me of huge muffin tops.
Yogurt Drop Scones.
Photo by Angela Wotton.
No Patents on Organic Seed and Cool Potatoes.
No Patents on
A Monsanto representative told me not only is GMO seed patented but
also organic seed. Is this true?
be true. However, I have been told at least one European seed
company has patented at least some of their organic seed varieties.
Such patenting of seed is not legitimate for organic seed systems, and
would violate organic norms as expressed in the OSGATA Policy, Principles of Organic Plant
year we had some wire-worm damage in our potatoes. We did not dig them
until Sept 21 because we were busy on other jobs. An old research
pamphlet on wire-worms says I should dig them earlier because the
wire-worms really bore into potatoes once all the grass fiber is gone.
It's now August and my root cellar is presently about 60ºF. How early
can I put them in there (without those temperatures being detrimental
to potato storage and quality before fall temperatures start cooling it
One can be haphazard and careless without
suffering negative consequences if the storage season for table
potatoes is short - say two months or so.
Success at long term storage requires
attention to detail and rapid cooling of tubers to arrest physiological
We suberize our tubers (wound healing)
at 58-60ºF / high humidity for two weeks after digging (ends Oct 20).
Then we next quickly cool down the potato cellar to 38ºF asap (usually
by Nov 5) by blowing in cold night time air. This quick cooling
maintains maximum vigor in the tubers (for seed) and resistance to
sprouting (for tablestock). Potatoes for seed kept and stored at 60ºF
for many weeks will lose vigor and tubers will sprout earlier. Consider
keeping them in the ground until your cellar cools.
|Wood Prairie Farm Quick
& Megan Gerritsen
Prairie Family Farm
429 - 9765
Certified Organic, Direct from the Farm