Wood Prairie Farm
 The Seed Piece Newsletter
             Organic News and Commentary
                 Friday, September 18 2015
                        Volume 22 Issue 19

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 In This Issue of The Seed Piece:

    A Nice Place to Visit.

     Spud Shufflers Taking a Break from Work. Taking a breather from selling our Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes to attendees of the National Heirloom Expo were blond sisters Sarah and Amy Gerritsen of Wood Prairie Farm.  The pool at the Flamingo Motel served to mitigate the daily hot weather.
     It was the girl’s first trip to California so we conspired to make it a memorable one with a quick trip to Yosemite National Park, including jaw-dropping Yosemite Valley. It was Jim’s first visit to Yosemite in over 40 years.
     As might be expected with California in the throws of their historic drought, the water in Yosemite Valley’s main water course, the Merced River, was low.  We walked to the base of a dry and waterless Yosemite Falls (where during three seasons of the year, Yosemite Creek drops precipitously over sheer cliffs creating the tallest waterfall (a total of 2425’) in North America – and the fifth tallest in the world.
     After one short week back in school, today (Friday) the girls begin Potato Harvest Break for three weeks until Columbus Day.  We’re ready.  Let the Harvest begin.

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

Dr. Vandana Shiva on Civil Disobedience to End Seed Slavery. Video (2:17) inside this main National Heirloom Expo Hall prior to the gates opening.
Report from 2015 National Heirloom Expo.

     California greeted cool-climate Mainers with a searing hundred-degree heat-wave for the duration of the famed 5th Annual National Heirloom Exhibition held in Santa Rosa.  “But it’s a dry heat” held sway.  Jim went out to give two talks and brought along daughters Sarah (17) and Amy (12) who ran the Wood Prairie Farm booth.

    Prior to the Expo the Wood Prairie crew made an overnight trip to the High Sierra and Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park.  Afterwards, they checked out San Francisco by riding cable cars, visiting the ocean beach and Fisherman’s Wharf, and walking through Chinatown.

    This year’s National Heirloom Expo was a big success with beautiful displays and strong turnouts all three days.  One hundred speakers captivated audiences on topics as varied as Biodynamic farming and organic cotton.

    The last morning gates opened early as yellow school buses brought in many hundreds of local school kids to visit the Expo including livestock, vegetable and tractor displays and to listen to now-seasoned-kid’s-activists Rachel Parent and Birke Baehr, both now 16 years old.  Sarah and Amy were among the roomful of captivated youthful listeners and were suitably impressed with Rachel & Birke’s tag-team presentation about good food and what kids can do to help make a better planet.

   In another session, filmmaker Deborah Coombs Garcia showed a new forty-minute opening video of the film series she is working on which will document the landmark Agrarian Elders gathering of two years ago which Jim attended at Big Sur.

   As expected, Dr. Vandana Shiva drew a huge crowd for her opening night keynote speech, filling the large auditorium.  On the last evening, Vandana, Dave Murphy and Lisa Stokke of Food Democracy Now! were joined by Jim on a panel which discussed the corporate threat posed by seed patents.

   An incredible diversity of booths filled the Expo located at the Sonoma County fairgrounds.  Supplementing the booths and displays were vendors with delicious and outstanding local food – much of it also organic.

    In time, videos of the various presentations will be posted online.  We will be sure to share some of the cream of the crop with you.

Jim & Megan

Click Here for Our Certified Organic Vegetable Seed

Half Dome from Olmstead Point Lookout. Along the Tioga Road (Highway 120) in Yosemite National Park's high country.

Tanaya Lake. One of the largest lakes (elevation 8150') in Yosemite, mile-long, crystal clear and on the edge of the Tioga Road.

Tioga Road Approach to Tuolumne Meadows. Domes carved by glaciers which reminds one of Aroostook County glaciers and our - by comparison - little bitty glacial field rocks.

Golden Gate Bridge. One tower free of fog on what was a breezy, cool, foggy morning in the Golden Gate.

Ghiradelli Square Near Fisherman's Wharf and Hyde Street Cable Car Turnaround. Maine farmers wondering just how old the 'chocolate' was in this Rube Goldberg moving historical display preserved for tourists.

Mimes At Rest. What do mimes talk about when on coffee break?

Special Offer: FREE Organic Winter Rye Cover Crop Seed.

     Winter is coming and with cooler Fall weather in the offing we should all be thinking about how we will protect our precious soil over the winter ahead.  Organic Winter Rye - grown as a very hardy winter cover crop - has a well-earned reputation as the winter cover crop of choice.

      Here’s a great chance to get started protecting your soil! Receive a FREE 2.5 lbs Sack of Wood Prairie Farm Organic Winter Rye Cover Crop Seed (Value $9.95) on your next order where the goods total $40 or more.  Please use Promo Code WPF471.  Your order and FREE Wood Prairie Farm Organic Winter Rye Cover Crop Seed must ship by 11/14/15. Offer Expires 11:59p.m., Monday, September 21, so please hurry!

Click Here for our Wood Prairie Farm Organic Cover Crop Section.

Rose Rugosa. After years ago collecting wild Rose Hips from the coast we have a hundred foot long Rosa hedge on the West Side of our Big Pond.
  What's the Best Time to Collect Seed from Woody Perennials?

     This particular question developed particular significance for Harvard University's Arnold Arboretum - near Boston - when during the war years of World War II, they were operating with less experienced help. Their solution was to catalogue the extensive collection of Woody Perennials - alphabetically by Latin name - alongside what they had determined was the ideal date for collecting seed.

     Published in 1947, their list composed by Donald Wyman, Seed Collection Dates of Woody Perennials, remains a valuable reference for anyone collecting seed. You will no doubt need to re-calibrate based on your latitude and effects of climate change. Use of familiar woody plants as yardsticks will make that job easier.

Click Here for Our Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes.

Recipe: Potato Apple Cranberry Drop Cookies.
1 cup grated raw potato (use fine blade on grater)
1 cup chopped dried cranberries
1 cup apple, peeled and chopped or grated finely
1 ½ tsp grated orange rind
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
¼ cup milk
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp sea salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare first 4 ingredients and set aside. Cream butter and sugars; beat in egg and milk. Sift flour and dry ingredients, stir into butter mixture until well-blended. Stir in potato and fruit mixture. Drop by teaspoon onto greased cookie sheets. Bake 12-15 minutes. Makes 4 dozen cookies.


A Tasty Treat for Harvest Time.
Photo by Angela Wotton.

Our Mailbox: Tater Harvest Photos, Why Organic Appears to Cost More and The Superior Paradigm.

Tater Harvest Photos.

Dear WPF. 

     Just harvested some Caribe and Gold Rush. Very nice to chat with you yesterday Jim. Thank you for taking my order and best of luck this harvest season.

Southfield, MI

WPF Replies.

     I enjoyed our chat too. And those are great looking potatoes.


Why Organic Appears to Cost More.

Dear WPF.

    What is your response to the idea that organic crops are more expensive than GMO crops, even if organic is proven to be better at retaining moisture, will provide enough food, etc?

Portland, ME

WPF Replies.

     Answers off the top of my head fall into two groups: quality and externalized costs. Below are a few examples. Jim.

1. The Value of Quality. Everyone understands Cadillacs cost more than VWs.

2. Organic is Quality. Since nutrient-dense certified organic food is nutritionally superior, tastes better than chemical food, and is virtually free of pesticide residues, it is reasonable to expect to have to pay more for quality.

3. Federal Subsidy. The fact is the cash register price only reflects the partial cost of food to the consumer. For one thing, processed food which relies on commodity crops are heavily tax-payer subsidized by the federal government. Therefore crops like like GE corn, GE soy and GE canola do not reflect the real and full cost.

4. Human Loss. Additionally, many of the true costs created by chemical crops have been externalized. For example, every farmer using the insecticide "Sevin" (carbaryl) bears some moral responsibility (which economists would translate into monetary value) for the 1984 Union Carbide accident which killed at least 2259 people in India.

5. Environmental Loss. Additionally, environmental damage is customarily externalized because Nature does not retain a legal team. As one example, the environmental loss - foisted on Nature as a debit - of volatilizing carbon from the soil (humus) where it belongs, and industrial ag pushing it into the atmosphere as climate-warming carbon dioxide, is leading to expanding catastrophic harm, yet those real costs have been externalized.

6. Subsidized Energy.
Another subsidized and externalized cost which tremendously benefits conventional chemical agriculture is it's addiction to cheap energy. For generations our military has been used as an enabler and we have maintained an expensive worldwide military presence which insures oil will keep flowing at low cost to power industrial Ag and to manufacture synthetic fertilizers.

The Superior Paradigm.

Dear WPF.


Just curious if you are familiar with this group "Certified Naturally Grown" ? They are supposed to target very small, local farmers that don't have the man power or resources to get the USDA Organic certification.

They are peer reviewed (a farmer signs off) and the farmers' application and inspection reports are available online at their website. They claim their standards are as high or higher than the USDA's.

What do you think?


WPF Replies.

Yes I am familiar with CNG.

     Their verification system does not inspire confidence because it has not been structured to be independent - friends "certifying" each other does not provide sufficient freedom from potential financial conflict-of-interest.
     The organic community came up with third-party (independent of seller and buyer) organic certification because authentic organic food costs more to grow and organic consumers deserve assurance their hard-earned dollars are in fact purchasing bona fide organic food. Independent third-party organic certification remains the superior paradigm.


 Jim & Megan Gerritsen
 Wood Prairie Farm
 49 Kinney Road
 Bridgewater, Maine 04735
 (800)829-9765 Certified Organic, Direct from the Farm