Wood Prairie Farm
 The Seed Piece Newsletter
             Organic News and Commentary
                Thursday October 16, 2014

 In This Issue of The Seed Piece:

    Harvest Almost History.

     The Weather Holds and Harvest’s End is Near.  This harvest will go down as among the best in terms of weather for the last fifteen or twenty years.  Conditions were stubbornly dry and a roller coaster of temperatures. We successfully dug a nice crop of organic seed potatoes without suffering any frost damage.
     This week, Aroostook County students headed back to the classroom with the close of the three-week Potato Harvest Break.  We recently came across this article - In Maine, A Time to Reap is Running Out – written some twenty-five years ago.  It offers a nice glimpse into the culture behind our Aroostook County potato harvest.  The piece reminds us that the oft-predicted demise of the Harvest Break has been making the rounds for many decades.  We’re happy the tradition of Potato Harvest Break continues. 
     We’re also among the many up here in Northern Maine who firmly believe that students learn more from their three weeks in a potato field than from any other three weeks of the school year.  These are priceless life lessons which teach the value of hard work, the meaning of a dollar and sticking with a job.  We’re glad Aroostook County’s Potato Harvest Break continues.  We know our kids are the better for it.

 Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
 Wood Prairie Farm
 Bridgewater, Maine

Click here for the Wood Prairie Farm Home Page.

How We Harvest Organic Seed Corn on Wood Prairie Farm.

     Last week - after we were done digging potatoes - we harvested our two varieties of organic seed corn. We made a short You Tube video (0:32) of our son, Caleb, running the corn picker and with a crew harvesting our Organic Dorinny Sweet Corn seed, our popular, outstanding short-season open-pollinated (OP) Canadian variety from the 1920s.

     Caleb is driving one of our 63hp Oliver 1650 Diesel tractors. He is pulling a New Idea 323 one-row corn picker. The machine picks the cob from the stalk and then de-husks that cob on its way to the elevator and down the trailering gravity wagon. The corn cobs - with the kernels still intact - then go inside for further moderate-temperature drying. As you will see, Wood Prairie co-workers follow behind and glean the occasional ear left by the machine. The final step in this seed process is removing ("shelling") the dry corn kernels from the cob.

     This traditional corn cob harvest technique is the best way to grow the highest quality seed. Our isolation - on the edge of Maine's North Woods - allows us to grow bona fide organic seed corn which is free of detectable genetically engineered (GE) seed contamination. This isolation has so far protected us from Monsanto's transgenic (GE) pollution. By its nature, GE corn pollen is mobile and can travel surprising distances via the wind and result in contamination. The nearest plots of commercial GE corn are grown by conventional GE dairy farmers on the Canadian side of the border six-seven miles away from Wood Prairie Farm and to the east.

     As an at-risk crop, and at great expense and from our own pockets, we laboratory test every lot of our organic seed corn. In the many years we have been growing corn for seed - beginning well before Biotech in the mid-1990s invaded rural America and created the ever-present high risk of unwanted GE trespass and seed contamination - we have never once detected GE contamination content in any of our organic seed corn.

     Among Mainers, we are particularly grateful for Maine's expansive and isolating forests.

Jim & Megan

Click Here for Our Wood Prairie Farm Certified Organic Vegetable Seed

Video of Caleb Gerritsen Picking Seed Corn. In the era of GE crop contamination isolation is essential for seed growing.

Eliot Coleman. Surrounded by Wood Prairie Farm co-workers Frank & Mickelle.

Eliot Coleman Knocks Socks Off in Presque Isle.

     There are not many events which will draw us out of the potato field early on a September or October day.  The last such magnetic circumstance to exhibit this power was two years ago with Cecily Pingree’s hosting and premier showing of her award-winning film, about struggling Maine organic dairy farmers, Betting the Farm, at the Braden Theater in Presque Isle.

  This year, it was renowned organic farmer Eliot Coleman who was responsible for our singular interruptive potato harvest event.  Eliot grows organic crops at Four Seasons Farm on the coast of Maine, in the town of Harborside, about three-and-a-half-hours south of Wood Prairie Farm.  As many of you will know, this most famous of organic farmers stands as an original thinker and is the author of numerous iconic hands-on farming books, including the now classic, The New Organic Grower.  In his further role as a visionary, Eliot was the organizer of last winter’s first ever Agrarian Elders Gathering held in Big Sur, California.
   Upon invitation Eliot provided an overflowing Aroostook County crowd of 140 people with a captivating lecture, elaborating upon his theme, Nothing is Impossible.  His presentation was part of the University of Maine Presque Isle’s Distinguished Lecturer series.  Thankfully, Eliot’s lecture (1:19:15) was recorded professionally and it is available free for online viewing at your leisure.

   The expression, MUST WATCH applies aptly to this evening with Eliot Coleman.  We challenge you to watch the first five minutes of Eliot’s talk and then NOT turn off the video.  We don’t believe it can be done.  Prepare yourself for a spell-binding hour.

   To read an excellent, depthful explanation of organic farming, see Eliot’s 2011 article, Organic Agriculture: Deeply Rooted in Science and Ecology.

Jim & Megan

Click here for our Wood Prairie Farm Maine Certified Organic Seed Potatoes.

The Proof is In: Organic Food is Far Far Superior.

     An important new study has proven conclusively that organic food is the far superior choice over conventional chemical food.

    In the largest study ever conducted - a meta-analysis based on data from 343 peer-reviewed research papers - organic food comes out on top by a long shot. What is clear is that the quality of food is a function of how it is produced: nutritionally dense organic food unquestionably excels. "A switch to eating organic fruit, vegetables and cereals (and food made from them) would lead to a 20–40% (and for some compounds up to a 60%) increase in crop-based antioxidant (poly) phenolic consumption without any increase in calories...Conventionally grown fruit had by far the highest frequency of pesticide residues, about seven times higher than in organic fruit. In conventional vegetables and crop-based processed foods the frequency of pesticide residues was three to four times higher than in organic. All organic crop types were found to have similarly low contamination rates."

   Dark corporate forces will not be pleased with this new documentation of scientific clarity.  The organic community should be prepared for ramped up backlash from Industrial Ag which - based on past reactionary behavior - can be expected to crank its propaganda machinery into overdrive by concocting novel ways to impugn the reputation and integrity of organic food.   The recent venomous attack article by former USDA Secretary John Block may well be part of the renewed orchestrated hit job on organic.  Mr Block’s embarrassing and irrational diatribe was properly handled by a swift response from the Organic Trade Association.  Is it any wonder the organic community has a deep-seated skepticism of receiving fair treatment from USDA?

  The simple fact remains: organic farming is good for the people and good for the planet.  Castigating organic farming and defying the growing body of scientific evidence of organic’s superiority will prove to be an embittering experience for the industrial elites with their insatiable predilection for selfishness, greed and power. 

   Importantly, we can and must daily exercise the power of our wallets with the careful spending of our food dollars.


Click Here for Our Certified Organic Specialty Potatoes for Your Kitchen.

Organic Food Best. Organic is good for the land and good for the people.
Notable Quotes: Ed Koch on Political Reality.

Maple-Apple Upside Down Cake.
Photo by Angela Wotton
Recipe: Maple-Apple Upside Down Cake

1 c maple syrup
3 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into eighths
2 c whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 large eggs
3/4 c buttermilk
1 T pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 c sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 10-inch round cake pan. In a large saucepan, bring the maple syrup to a boil over high heat, then simmer over low heat until very thick and reduced to 3/4 cup, about 20 minutes. Pour the thickened syrup into the cake pan. Arrange the apples in the pan in 2 concentric circles, overlapping them slightly.

In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a glass measuring cup, whisk the eggs with the buttermilk and vanilla. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the dry and wet ingredients in 3 alternating batches until the batter is smooth; scrape down the side of the bowl.
Scrape the batter over the apples and spread it in an even layer. Bake the cake for 1 to 1 1/2 hrs, until golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool on a rack for 45 minutes.

Place a plate on top of the cake and invert the cake onto the plate; tap lightly to release the cake. Remove the pan. Let the cake cool slightly, then cut into wedges and serve alone or with creme fraiche.

Special Offer: FREE Sack of Organic French Chantenay Carrots.

     We've been carefully awaiting the cold nights of Fall. The reason is that freezing temperatures cause both our Organic Frost Sweet Parsnips and Organic French Chantenay Carrots to "sugar up" - increasing their sweetness and creating that unbelievably great taste. Now that we're getting brisk cold nights here in Northern Maine, the time is right and we're commencing to dig these last two crops left to harvest on Wood Prairie Farm.
     In celebration of our carrot harvest we have a Special Offer allowing you to earn yourself a FREE 2 lb. Sack of Organic French Chantenay Carrots (Value $11.95) when the amount of goods in your next order totals $45 or more. FREE 2 lb. Sack of Organic French Chantenay Carrots offer ends Midnight Monday, October 20, 2014.

     Please use Promo Code WPF1195. Your order and the FREE 2 lb. Sack of Organic French Chantenay Carrots must ship by 4/3/15. This offer may not be combined with other offers. Please call or click today!

Questions? Call Wood Prairie Farm (800) 829-9765.

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

Our Mailbox: Sourcing Potato Diggers, No GE Potatoes, Hold Onto Your Donut.

Sourcing Potato Diggers.

Dear WPF.

Where can I find a potato digger for harvesting potatoes?

Unity ME

WPF Replies.

     Here are two ideas for potato diggers:

1. New Potato Diggers.

2. Used Potato Diggers.
I recommend John Deere #30 Two-Row Diggers. Horse power requirements are about 30 horsepower (hp). Try Swap & Sell publications in historical potato country or try www.tractorhouse.com.

Good luck.


No GE Potatoes.

Dear WPF.

     Thought you should know before problems they arise.

In North America, the most common blue potato is a genetically-altered vegetable called "Adirondack Blue" which was developed by Cornell University in 2003. The potato is large and oblong with deep purple flesh and skin.

Read more: https://www.ehow.com/info_8642685_blue-potatoes.html



WPF Replies.

     This information is NOT correct. Adirondack Blue is absolutely NOT genetically engineered. Without exception no potato variety ever developed by Cornell University is GE.
     I believe this confusion is the child of sloppy contrived definitions. This is yet another example of the designed obfuscation brought upon the public by the Biotech industry. Biotech likes to refer to their transgenic inventions as "genetically modified" as though it were a natural part of a long and happy agricultural tradition which goes back hundreds - if not thousands - of years. FALSE!
     As my friend has put it, if you put a strawberry and a flounder in the same room for 10,000 years it will not "genetically modify" without a gene gun that "modifies" a genome. The Biotech usage is disingenuine and dishonest. Yes, traditional breeding and selection obviously do have the effect of "modifying" genes. However, breeders never applied the term "genetic modification" prior to their work. The concocted usage of the phrase "genetically modified" has been a crass concoction of Biotech with the express purpose of increasing confusion among the public.

Hold Onto Your Donut.

Dear WPF.

      Kiss Your Grass-Fed Beef Goodbye! GMO Grass About to Be Approved.
So will they be labeling GMO Grass Fed then?

Stetson ME

WPF Replies.

     You can bet your last donut they won't be bragging up GE grass. Let this example serve as another lesson why when spending our food dollars we must do our homework and get beyond superficial marketing terms.
     In our family, we have four criteria we apply to food purchases: Certified Organic, Family Scale, Local and Transparent. Reviewing a potential food purchase against these four principles will protect your family from the fakers.
     Should farmers adopt this risky GE Grass technology it would illustrate yet again they are not thinking very far forward. Farmers have already served as enablers in their participation in the transfer of public seed ownership over to aggressive corporate bullies who display unbridled greed and have a penchant for unconscionably aggressive behavior and jacking up seed prices to now-captive farmers either through abusive patent control and/or radical unfair contract law.
     Remember, GE Crops are ALL about ownership and monopoly control.


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