The Wood Prairie Seed Piece
            Organic News and Commentary
               Friday, October 6th 2017
                     Volume 25 Issue 15


 In This Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:


     Maine Tales.                   Thursday's Job.           Turner Center, Maine Circa 1960.

     Maine has always been a good place to live.  So it shouldn't be hard to understand that Maine is where a Mainer wants to be when that life is coming to an end.

      Megan's great grandfather was a hard-working Maine farmer by the name of Arthur Libby, born in 1872.  “Grandpa Libby” bought his family's farm in the western Maine town of Turner in 1902.  At the close of WWI, he sold that farm and bought another smaller farm in Turner Center where for decades he kept cattle and pigs, and grew apples and blueberries.    Like most any Maine farm, the family's hard work brought about a decent living, though of course no one ever approached getting rich.

      Grandpa Libby was active in his community, serving in the Grange, the local church (it was a Universalist Church) and town government. Interestingly, Julia, Arthur's wife was fourteen years Arthur's senior.  In fact, as a young woman Julia had taught Arthur in a Turner schoolhouse. 

      The Libbys were married for many years, and then Julia passed in 1944.  Shortly after the end of WWII, Grandpa Libby resettled down to Florida with his daughter, Hilda.

      The years went by in Florida.  When Grandpa Libby realized his time was coming near, he surveyed the options in front of him.  He came to the conclusion that he, by gory, was not about to die anywhere but in his great State of Maine.   So during the winter of 1959-1960, with help, he made his way back north to the farm he still owned in Turner Center and was taken care of by his other daughter, Doris's, family.

       Grandpa Libby, by nature, was resolute and a Mainer of few words.  Common to Mainers, particularly of his generation, Mr. Libby had effortlessly long, long ago mastered the art of frugality. Frugality itself was not an insubstantial reason behind Grandpa Libby's farming success, and behind the success of most every Maine farmer.

       One morning, after having gotten settled back into Maine for a week or two, Mr. Libby decided it was about time to lay things out.  With his priorities straight, at breakfast one morning, to dispel any misconceptions,  he curtly explained, "I change my teabag on Thursdays."

      It was late that winter that Grandpa Libby, at the age of 84,  died in his own bed, in his own house, in the great State of Maine.

 Caleb, Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
 Wood Prairie Family Farm
 Bridgewater, Maine
Special Offer: FREE Organic Winter Rye Cover Crop Seed.

     Incredibly winter-hardy Organic Winter Rye Seed is a wonderful winter-time cover crop.  Even here in the north it will start growing in the cool soil of Fall after potato harvest and remain green and alive all winter under snow cover.  Then in the Spring, it will start growing lush and fast when everything else is still asleep from Winter.
     Here's your chance to earn some FREE Organic Winter Rye Cover Crop Seed for your garden.  Receive a FREE 2.5 Lbs. Sack of Our Organic Winter Rye Cover Crop Seed (Value $9.95) when your next order totals $49 or more. FREE Organic Winter Rye Cover Crop Seed Offer ends 11:59 PM on Monday, October 9, 2017, so please don't delay!

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Winter Rye. The perfect Winter cover crop.

The Fight to Keep-the-Soil-in-Organic.


By Eliot Coleman

The indisputable raw material of the organic farm is a biologically active fertile soil. Soil fertility does not require purchased inputs. It is endlessly renewable with compost, crop rotation, green manures, grazing livestock and other time-honored practices that nurture the boundless energy of the earth. Truly fertile soil produces food of the highest nutritional quality. Pest-free plants and animals with active immune systems are a direct result of a biologically active fertile soil that induces pest resistance in the crops. Research into the miraculous soil micro-biome is opening new vistas for understanding the parameters of a wholly “biological” agriculture. What organic farmers have accomplished to date is just the beginning of the transformation of our human relationship with the planet. We need to protect the hundred-year-old meaning of the word “organic” so its future potential is not compromised by association with mercenary industrial production systems that bear no relation to the environmental promise the word has always represented.

     In my role as president of Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association I have attended the last six expert citizen advisory National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meetings and I will also be at the late October NOSB meeting in Jacksonville.  These meetings are real eye-openers and one gets a front row seat to the increasing corporate-takeover of organic.

   Why has the Organic Trade Association (OTA) sold out, led the loss of organic integrity, partnered with Monsanto, worked to pre-empt Maine and Vermont's GMO Labeling Law and generally worked to facilitate the agenda of GMA (Grocery Manufacturers Assn) corporations?  Because these same GMA corporations have bought their way into organic and now run the OTA.  We are facing a dire and untenable situation.   
      What is developing is a perfect-storm-threat to authentic organic family farmers and therefore, to virtually everyone in the real organic community.

Consider our perspective from Maine:

*Honest organic grain farmers are facing ruin from lost markets and depressed prices due to fraudulent "organic" grain being imported from Turkey and Ukraine. 

    *Honest organic dairy farmers who play by the rules are facing lowered prices and reduced quota due to a milk glut created by illegal CAFOs out West which do not meet the required pasture access rule. One single bogus "Certified Organic" 10,000 cow dairy operation in the West produces more milk that all of Maine's organic dairy farmers combined.  

     *How can an authentic Maine Certified Organic pasture-raised layer or broiler farm compete with illegal "Certified Organic" CAFOs containing 200,000 to 1,000,000 birds which provide no outdoor access as required by the Federal Rule?   They can't win when the deck has been stacked against them. Who do you think is buying and feeding out all that fraudulent East European "organic" grain?
     *And now we have an invasion by mega mega scale Corporate Hydroponics (crops grown without soil in water and fed by soluble nutrients) who are mounting a sophisticated campaign with the backing of  major Wall Street money.  In collusion with USDA, Big Hydro is out to con the organic industry into accepting that genuine organic farming is possible without soil.  Soil is in fact the absolute foundation of the revolutionary definition of organic farming going back 100 years.  Soil is what makes organic work, what makes the taste and nutrition of our food superior, and through carbon sequestration what contributes materially to combating climate chaos.

     *Greenhouse tomatoes grown in Holland, if marketed domestically would be prohibited from being called "organic."  However, export them to the USA and USDA allows these same tomatoes to be labeled “Certified Organic."  Even well-intentioned produce managers don't know the undifferentiated "organic" tomatoes they are selling came from fake Corporate Hydro "organic" operations.

     *Corporate Hydro fake "organic" doesn't stop at tomatoes.  It also includes greens, peppers, cukes, blueberries and more.  Those crops represent a huge portion of honest organic vegetable farmers gross income.  Backyard Farms, a Maine Hydro operation was recently bought out by a Corporate "organic" Hydro operation in the Midwest.  How long will it be before Backyard Farms gets a sell-out certifier to certify their tomato production as "organic?"  What percentage of authentic Maine organic vegetable farm sales do tomatoes account for?  What will the future hold for authentic vegetable farmers who try to compete against corporate Hydro tomatoes marketed as Maine, Local and “Organic?”  Will Backyard Farms' future production stop at "organic tomatoes?"

     A decisive 2010 vote by the NOSB - 12 to 1 - determined hydroponics is not an acceptable organic production practice.  However, hostile and renegade USDA ignored that clear NOSB consensus.  The cat is out of the bag and we now know USDA has been allowing financially-conflicted certifiers to invent their own ‘rules' and certify mega corporate operations like Driscolls and Wholesum Harvest.

     We are in a grueling fight for the soul and survival of organic as we have built it over many decades.

     Should corporate/governmental collusion prevail and organic production be severed from the soil, many of us believe there will be an accelerated loss of organic integrity. How much more degradation of organic integrity must occur before we entirely lose the confidence of organic consumers? The robustness of organic integrity impacts all of us regardless of what crops a farmer may grow or a consumer may eat. 

    The chief battleground now is Hydroponics because that is the issue on the front burner and now facing a vote at the Jacksonville NOSB meeting.  A lot of hard work has gone into keeping-the-soil-in-organic and fighting the corporate takeover of organic.  But we need help.  Our series of Rallies across the country are being held now and leading up to the late October NOSB meeting.  The Rallies are an effort to channel farmer and consumer resistance against further degradation of organic integrity, authentic organic farming, and the demise of organic family farmers.
     Please, go our alliance website, Keep-the-Soil-in-Organic to see how you can help.

Click Here for Our Wood Prairie Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes.
Notable Quotes: John Carroll on Free Societies.

Recipe: Potato Doughnuts.

3 T shortening or lard
3/4 c sugar
3 egg yolks
1 egg white
1 c cooked, mashed potatoes
1/2 c milk
1 c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp mace
1/2 tsp nutmeg
shortening or cooking oil for deep frying

Combine shortening or lard and sugar. Beat with an electric mixer until creamy. Add egg yolks and egg white and beat until thick, about 1 minute. Add mashed potato and mix to combine. Sift together the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, salt, baking powder, mace and nutmeg. Alternately add flour mixture and milk to batter, beating after each addition until combined.

Cover dough and chill for 2 hours.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough until 1/2 inch thick. Cut dough with a floured 2 1/2-inch doughnut cutter. Reroll as necessary.

Fry doughnuts, 2 or 3 at a time, in deep, hot fat, (365 F), about 1 minute on each side or until golden, turning once with a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining doughnut and doughnut holes.

Good with milk or tea.

Traditional Potato Doughnuts.
Photo by Angela Wotton.

Mailbox: Big Elba Crop.

     Just wanted to give you an update on our potatoes. The Elbas yielded two bushels per 100 foot row. This compares to a little over a bushel for our Kennebecs in years past. Same organic material, from same cows and a much better growing season this year (better rainfall and less bugs). We probably left close to a half bushel of potatoes per row due to bites and holes. We got them out yesterday with the upcoming rainfall from Irma scheduled to give us 2-4 inches here in Western North Carolina starting tomorrow evening and into Tuesday. Hope you and family are well and having a good Fall. The second pic is of them spread out to dry in the garage before we put them in the root cellar.

North Carolina

Great photos and a great looking crop of Elbas!


 Caleb & Jim & Megan Gerritsen
 Wood Prairie Family Farm
 49 Kinney Road
 Bridgewater, Maine 04735
 (207) 429 - 9765 Certified Organic, From Farm to Mailbox