Wood Prairie Farm
 The Seed Piece Newsletter
             Organic News and Commentary
                Monday September 29, 2014

 In This Issue of The Seed Piece:

    Hot and Cold.

     Harvesting Organic Seed Potatoes on Wood Prairie Farm. September’s dry – and recently hot – weather has allowed us to make steady and good progress on potato harvest.  This year’s potato crop is pretty typical of a dry growing season: high quality and good average yields.
     With ten days digging under our belt the end of potato harvest is nearly in sight.  Today was a drizzly 50ºF.  However, recent days have been haying-weather-hot.  The temperature yesterday peaked at 84ºF and smashed the old record high of 77ºF for the date.  In fact, according to the Caribou Weather Office, yesterday “was the warmest temperature ever so late in the season.”  The weather this week is forecast to return to cooler and more "normal" levels.
     We expect to be back on the ground digging potatoes tomorrow.  Following potatoes we will still have organic carrots, beets, parsnips and seed corn left to harvest.
 Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
 Wood Prairie Farm
 Bridgewater, Maine

Click here for the Wood Prairie Farm Home Page.

Video: How We Dig Potatoes on Wood Prairie Farm.

     It is not that unusual for us to have working visitors during our colorful Aroostook County potato harvest.  Just a few years ago it was author Richard Horan and his daughter doing research for his engaging book, Harvest.

     This year, talented Portland food photographer Russell French stopped by our harvest while on assignment photographing local Northern Maine organic dairy farmers.

     Then last week, a film crew from WABI-TV traveled the 150 miles north from Bangor to Bridgewater (Pop. 610) and filmed (1:55) our organic seed potato harvest as a news story for the 6 O’Clock News.

     For decades Aroostook County has been known as the "Potato Empire.”  We are one of the last areas in the United States to still close schools in the Fall for the three-week "Potato Harvest Break."

     Our Harvest Break tradition goes back to World War II and allows students the opportunity to help get the potato crop in under cover.  In the post-World War II 1940s, Maine education took a leap towards consolidation, began closing one-room rural school houses and adopted a universal 175-day-standard-school-year. Prior to that standardization, Aroostook schools logically enough started up at the end of the farming season in early November and then closed for the year when mud season arrived in the Spring.  Now, to keep the number crunchers happy in Augusta, Aroostook kids start school three weeks “early” in August to allow them the three weeks off for “digging.”

     Experience in the real world means a lot.  Our four children have a combined 70 years of dusty, first-hand experience with the Aroostook potato harvest.   The beneficial work reputation gained from an Aroostook potato harvest is nothing short of legendary in New England.   Historically, any local student wanting a Summer job down on the touristy coast of Maine has only to mention that they have worked the potato harvest in Aroostook County and they will be hired on the spot.

     As you will see in the WABI video, the steady potato work requires fast hands and determination, day after day.  For the last seven years we have been digging our crop with a well-built Juko “Super Midi” potato harvester we imported directly from Finland.

Jim & Megan

Click Here for Our Wood Prairie Farm Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes.

Megan on Juko Harvester. A hot-cold-hot-cold potato harvest so far.

Study: Organic Agriculture is Capable of Curing Climate Chaos. 

     Just one week ago, New York City hosted the historic People’s Climate March which some reports indicated involved 400,000 participants.  Following soon after was the United Nations Climate Summit, also held in NYC.

     In the lead up to these events, Heritage Radio in NYC conducted an interview (5:25) with Jim.  He described how agriculture and food are big players when it comes to the environment and climate change.  Good farming is able to correct the problem of misplaced Carbon in the air.  Removing Carbon from the air and sequestering it in the soil as organic matter has a huge impact, not only on climate but in the enhancement of farms and food. Capturing Carbon and increasing soil organic matter increases soil fertility, tilth, aeration, water holding capacity, Nitrogen fixation and mineral availability.  

     Our friends at Rodale Institute provide excellent background on this Carbon connection in the form of recently published research.  Their study, Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change documents how a shift to organic farming would serve as a central solution to the looming problem of climate chaos.  

     Organic farming is good for the climate, good for the soil and good for people.  Buying organic not only is good for you and your family, but it is also good for our children’s future.

Jim & Megan

Click Here for Our Wood Prairie Farm Organic Cover Crops.

Notable Quotes: John Muir on Connectedness.

Hearty Potato and Corn Soup.
Photo by Angela Wotton
Recipe: Potato and Corn Soup

1 T extra virgin olive oil

1 T butter

1 medium Dutch Yellow Onion

1 clove Red Russian Garlic, diced

2 thyme sprigs

2 Prairie Blush Potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

2 c vegetable or chicken stock

1/2 - 1 c water

2 c fresh or frozen sweet corn

Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan until melted. Add onion, thyme, pinch of salt, and garlic and cook over medium low until onion is soft, about 8 minutes. Add potatoes, stir, and cook for another five minutes. Add stock and water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Add corn just before the potatoes are done. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

Serves 4


Click here for our Wood Prairie Kitchen Potatoes
Special Offer: FREE Sack of Organic Red Russian Garlic.

     A bland world it would surely be if it were not for good garlic.  If you are less than excited by the thought of garlic it may be you have never experienced high quality culinary garlic.  The ho hum garlic found everywhere in the grocery store aisle – much of it now imported from China -  does not do garlic justice.   If you have never tasted it, our excellent Organic Red Russian Garlic will be a real treat and eye-opener for your and your family or as a gift to a friend.

     Now here's your chance to earn yourself a FREE 1 lb. Sack of Organic Red Russian Garlic (Value $19.95) when the amount of goods in your next order totals $75 or more.  FREE 1 lb. Sack of Organic Red Russian Garlic offer ends Midnight Friday, October 3, 2014, so better hurry!

     Please use Promo Code WPF1190. Your order must ship by 11/19/14. This offer may not be combined with other offers.  Please call or click today!
Wood Prairie Farm  (800) 829-9765.

Click Here for Our Wood Prairie Farm Organic Fresh Vegetable Section.

Our Mailbox: Cartons of Carola, Scab on Potatoes? and Illegal GE Wheat.

Cartons of Carola.

Dear WPF.

Will you be selling 50lb cartons of Carola potatoes this year? If so, when do you plan to allow ordering? Thanks.


WPF Replies.

     Yes, we expect to have 50s of Carola and we'll know for sure when we dig them. They are one of the last varieties to be dug. You can go ahead and order Carolas right now.


Scab on Potatoes?

Dear WPF.

     We have some serious scab on our potatoes that we bought from another company. I don't suspect that the scab came with the potatoes.

Sandy OR

WPF Replies.

     One reason we got into raising organic Maine Certified Seed potatoes many years ago is that we could not get from other growers the seed quality we wanted. In terms of potato scab we are convinced - after discussions and experience with different seed lots of the same variety from different farms planted in the same field on the same day - that seed potatoes can carry subclinical levels of scab which will be invisible to the human eye. Then, when conditions are optimal for the development of scab (including dry or alternating dry and moist soil) a crop grown from such seed can produce a scabby and unsalable harvest. We are grateful our farm has never had a problem with scab. If someone has a recurring scab problem here are three conditions for them to avoid.

     1) Shortfall of available Phosphorus.
     2) Shortfall of soil fungi.
     3) Low mycorrhizae.
     We have learned seed varies in quality. Production of true seed is mostly centralized with a relatively small number of farmers growing a given variety of seed. At the other end of the continuum are Certified Seed potatoes where you have a relatively large number of farmers growing the various varieties.
     Bottom line is that a farmer should not buy Certified Seed potatoes as though they were a generic commodity. Once you find a good supplier of seed potatoes (grower identity will be on the government-issued seed tag sewed to the bag of seed) go to great lengths to assure that your seed comes from that specific seed farmer.


Illegal GE Wheat.

Dear WPF.

      Second Discovery of GMO Wheat Reveals 'Failed Policy' That Threatens Farmers: Watchdog. FYI, I remember about seven years ago when the state of North Carolina voted to allow trial plots of GMO rice. I spoke before the legislature and told them I was positive the genes would get out into the rice seed bank plot 15 miles away despite industry promises that they couldn't. Then, a few months later when the genes got out into the seed bank plot, the legislature declared it an "act of God". I wrote them a letter reminding them of my prediction and stating that they should therefore recognize me as a prophet, but I'm not sure if they got the point.


WPF Replies.

     I expect the Legislature's thinking may well have been clouded by benevolent "gifts" from Biotech largesse, specifically designed to massage favorable treatment. I've seen it work that way in Maine. That's Biotech's standard operating procedure. They have little faith in their products and won't leave their fate to independent due process.
     Now USDA's fraudulent concept of harmonious "Coexistence" between polluter GE crops and innocent-victim-non-GE crops, such as organic, should be once and for all acknowledged as the illegitimate fabrication of corporate-government collusion. The long and costly history - paid for by taxpayers and victimized farmers - of fallout from episodic GE contamination, like Liberty Link Corn, GE Rice, GE Alfalfa, GE Soybeans, GE Canola, GE Sugar Beets, GE Papaya, and now TWO GE Wheat discoveries, amply illustrate the reality that Biotech and it's government cheerleaders are completely incapable of responsibility and maintaining segregation of their unwanted transgenes from the world's food supply.


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