Wood Prairie Farm
 The Seed Piece Newsletter
             Organic News and Commentary
                  Tuesday October 28, 2014

 In This Issue of The Seed Piece:

    Working for Organic Integrity.

     Another Good Growing Year Draws to a Close.  The photo above was taken by talented photographer Jim Richardson during our Wood Prairie Farm potato harvest of twenty years ago back in 1994.  That little boy - with the look of determination - is our oldest son, Peter, then four.  The photo reminds us that everyone has a role to play on a family farm.  We have always liked the can-do attitude expressed by that green glove.
    In the last few weeks we’ve experienced about 5” of rain in Northern Maine and the ground is pretty wet.  Before these recent rains the weather was unusually dry - really going all the way back to the first of August.  But we know the pendulum swings. We’re grateful the rains held off as long as they did.

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

Click here for the Wood Prairie Farm Home Page.

Report From Louisville NOSB Meeting.

  Jim is away this week attending the Fall meeting of the National Organic Standards Board being held in Louisville, Kentucky.  He is at the meeting to testify not only as a long-time organic farmer, but also in his role as President of the national farmer-run membership trade organization, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) Cornicopia Institute's policy advisory board.

   There is a growing concern in the organic community over the inappropriate behavior of US Department of Agriculture.  The broad and widely held view is that USDA’s recent unjustified restriction of the NOSB’s Congressionally-mandated independence is placing the USDA partnership with NOSB in jeopardy.  Many organic leaders fear the USDA misbehavior will hurt organic integrity and erode consumer confidence in the Certified Organic label.

    The last NOSB meeting, held in San Antonio in April, saw tensions running high. There were arrests of organic supporters from Organic Consumers Association (OCA) who were protesting USDA actions, believed to be illegal and by appearances an effective tactical takeover of the NOSB by USDA.

     In the next seed piece we will print a transcript of the testimony prepared by Jim for oral presentation in Louisville.

   Earlier this month OSGATA submitted written comments to the NOSB in advance of the Louisville meeting. These comments are printed immediately below and refer to the grave situation confronting the organic community.

Jim & Megan

October 7, 2014

Ms. Michele Arsenault
National Organic Standards Board
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Room 2648-So, Ag Stop 0268
Washington, DC 20250-0268

Docket: AMS-NOP-14-0063

   The certified organic members of Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) thank the NOSB for this opportunity to express our views.  OSGATA is a national farmer-run membership trade organization made up of certified organic farmers, certified organic seed growers, certified organic seed companies, seed breeders and organizations and individuals supportive of organic seed.

    OSGATA  works to develop, protect and promote the organic seed trade and its farmers and to assure that the organic community has access to excellent, high quality organic seed, free of GE contaminants and suited to the diverse needs of local organic agriculture.

   We would like to commend those members of the NOSB who have dedicated themselves to upholding traditional organic values and who selflessly fight for organic integrity and put the interests of organic consumers and organic family farmers first and foremost.  You collectively demonstrate the hopes and expectations of the organic community.  Our willingness in the late 1980s to accept regulation, under the terms of the Organic Foods Production Act, was in exchange for the provision of an independent NOSB which would effectively represent the best interests of the organic community.

  Additionally, we have particular admiration and great respect for the family farmer members of the NOSB, and other individuals, who commit tremendous amounts of time to NOSB activities over their five-year terms, and receive no compensation from employers because of the fact they are self-employed.  Ultimately, their sacrifice is too great and these individuals should receive compensation for their service from USDA.

   However, despite the best efforts of the NOSB, we are very concerned that a troubling pattern has developed.  We are troubled that disappointing behavior on the part of USDA is resulting in a failing private-public partnership.  This failure not only limits the NOSB, but it threatens the very foundation and success of the organic industry.

   As certified organic farmers and certified organic businesses, we are troubled by recent trends lessening the Congressionally-mandated independence of the NOSB. 

   We are troubled by the arbitrary behavior of USDA and the lack of due process which resulted in the reversal of the Sunset Rule and the elimination of the Policy Development Subcommittee.

   We are troubled when the deck is stacked and non-family-farmer-owner-operators are appointed by USDA to the four NOSB farmer positions.  

  We are troubled when representatives of independent organic companies are passed over for appointment to the NOSB in favor of employees of corporations for which organic represents only a small percentage of overall sales.

   We are troubled by the refusal of USDA to enforce the requirements for outdoor access by corporate livestock operations.

   We are troubled by USDA’s long running refusal to act and ban engineered nanotechnologies from organic processing.

   We are troubled when strife and dissension resulting from USDA misbehavior results in waning credibility and growing disrespect for the organic label.  This USDA misbehavior has profound negative ramifications for the organic marketplace and for those of us who make our living growing and selling certified organic crops.  

   The recent sobering Hartman Group study, Organic & Natural 2014(https://hartbeat.hartman-group.com/article/552/As-organic -s-authenticity-halo-fades-consumers-turn-to-local-food) which depicts organic as a fading star, falling behind “local” in the hearts and minds of consumers, should give us all pause.

   Many OSGATA members have been active in the organic community for twenty, thirty, even forty years.  We have in common that we are invested in and fully committed to organic farming.  Our common experience has time and time again proved organic to be the superior production system.  We have been organic for a long time and we are in it for the long haul.

   We do want to help the NOSB correct our collective problems.


Jim Gerritsen
OSGATA Board of Directors
Washington, Maine

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

Goshawk Kite. Violence-Free tool for protecting farm crops.

A New Technique for Preventing Bird Damage on Valuable Farm Crops.

     Like many farmers, we have had our share of problems with birds causing damage to our crops here in Maine. We have had Blackbirds in the Spring uproot and kill small young corn plants to get at the seed kernel the corng rows from. Come Fall, Blue Jays - and sometimes Blackbirds - eat the kernals off our Organic Dorinny and Organic Dakota Ivory Seed Corn as it dries down. Once bird scouts locate something delectable - like a ripening organic corn field - and report back to flock leaders, the numbers of troublesome hungry birds flocking to a field can balloon at a jaw-dropping rate into the hundreds or thousands in just a matter of days. 

    This year we imported from England two well-made and carefully constructed nylon "kites" designed to look like predator Goshawks. These Goshawk Kites perfored well and kept the birds at bay. In winds as little as 5mph the Goshawk Kites will go airborne and swoop and dive in a very realistic manner. The Goshawk Kites come with a telescoping carbon-fiber pole which has been engineered very well to bend and buffer the effects of the wind. We rigged our kites so they would suspend from a height of 38'. Going to this height was worth the effort because there is a lot more wind up at 38' than 18'. A listless Goshawk kite is insufficient to fool a bird brain. The Goshawk design is ideal because real Goshawks will kill birds both on the ground and in flight. Somehow the brids grasp this versatile predatory ability and - being fooled by the Goshawk Kites - they kept their distance. We made a You Tube video of our Goshawk Kite (1:15) in one of our Wood Prairie Farm corn fields. You can view for yourself just how realistic these effective and nonviolent Goshawk Kites are at performing their job of keeping pesky birds away. 

Jim & Megan

Click Here for Our Organic Wood Prairie Farm Cover Crop Seed.

Notable Quotes: Rachel Carson on Intimacy.

Banana Carrot Cake.
Photo by Angela Wotton
Recipe: Banana Carrot Cake

2 c whole wheat flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
3/4 c finely chopped walnuts
4 oz unsalted butter
1/2 c dried dates, seeded and finely chopped
3 ripe bananas, mashed well
1 1/2 c grated carrots (about 3 medium)
handful of raisins
handful of coconut flakes
1/2 c plain yogurt
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x5x3 or 8x8 cake pan with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the walnuts and set aside.  In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Stir the dates into the melted butter, breaking up the dates a bit. In a separate bowl combine the bananas and carrots. Stir in the date-butter mixture, breaking up any date clumps as you go. Whisk in the yogurt and eggs. Add the flour mixture, raisins and coconut flakes and stir until everything just comes together. Spoon into the prepared pan. Bake for 40 - 60 minutes (depending on pan used) or until a toothpick tests clean in the center of the cake. Remove from oven and let cool. Frost with your favorite icing if desired.

Special Offer: FREE Packet of Organic Fall/Winter Salad Mix Seed.

        Even if you were to only have a single window in your home, you do have the ability to enjoy gardening and grow some of your own fresh salad greens this Winter!  Here’s how.  Find a window box for yourself at least 4” deep. Even a half-gallon milk carton laid on its side can do the trick.

   Fill the window box with our Organic Fort Vee Potting Soil  - or secure some good local organic soil. Moisten your soil and carefully lay seed on top.  Then cover the seed with a thin layer of saved dry soil. Next, moisten the soil you have laid on top. Cover the window box with plastic wrap and place in a warm, high spot such as atop the refrigerator.  As soon as you see the seeds sprout, remove the plastic and set the window box in its window location. Be sure to water adequately – but not too much!

    Our Organic Fall/Winter Salad Mix Seed contains a mix of delicious salad seeds of varieties well-suited to the low-light and lower-temperature conditions found in Fall and Winter.

    We will help you get your Winter gardening project off to a good start.  Get a FREE Packet of Organic Fall/Winter Salad Mix (Value $3.50) when the amount of goods in your next order totals $25 or more. FREE Packet of Organic Fall/Winter Salad offer ends 5pm Eastern / 2pm Pacific Halloween, Friday, October 31, 2014, so please hurry.

     Please use Promo Code WPF1199. Your order and the FREE Packet of Organic Fall/Winter Salad must ship by 5/6/15. Please call or click today!

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

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

Window Box Farming. One window and a windowbox allows you to grown greens anywhere.
Our Mailbox: Wildly Unregulated SynBio.

Wildly Unregulated SynBio.

Dear WPF.

Regulate Synthetic Biology Now: 194 Countries. Many of the extracts that scientists are developing are genetically engineered versions of natural extracts traditionally produced from plants cultivated in developing nations such as vanilla, saffron, vetiver, coconut, and wormwood.
     Currently there exists almost no regulation for synbio products. Recently a group of 116 consumer, food safety, environmental, sustainable agriculture, parent, public health, and faith based organizations signed a document called "Principles for the Oversight of Synthetic Biology".
SynBio - The Scariest GMOs You've Never Heard Of.

Exeter NH

WPF Replies.

     SynBio - an extreme form of genetic engineering - has up to this point received very little oversight. The highly credible 'ETC Group' describes historic progress made after a hard fought battle at the UN's Convention on Biological Diversity in Korea. "'Synthetic Biology has been like the wild west: a risky technology frontier with little oversight or regulation.'"
     Not content with mere unethical profits from Bio-Piracy, multinational corporations now eye unlabeled and fraudulent substitution via SynBio of basic traditional food ingredients produced by family farmers in developing countries. The new malevolent corporate highway to greed throws the world's peasent farmers get thrown under the bus.


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