Wood Prairie Farm
 The Seed Piece Newsletter
             Organic News and Commentary
                 Friday, November 13th 2015
                         Volume 22 Issue 23

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 In This Issue of The Seed Piece:

    Long Harvest Ends.

     Last Truckload of Wood Prairie Carrots.  It took a week of patience for dry weather, but it was worth the wait for this week’s spectacular sunny and mild Indian Summer to arrive in Maine.  With a couple of sunny and breezy days the ground dried sufficiently to get our Juko harvester back to work.  With Caleb (orange cap) and Megan and crew digging up the last of the harvest – while Jim worked on our new catalog – we finished up with the last of the Bliss Beets a full day before Thursday’s rain.  Immediately after harvest, Caleb switched to picking the last of the rocks from the potato fields and then followed with deep chisel plowing.
     We still have next year’s potato field – now full of a crop of biofumigant rapeseed - yet to plow down.  And our seasoned firewood logs yet to cut and split up. But getting the crops all harvested is that long-awaited milestone every farmer likes to see.

 Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
 Wood Prairie Farm
 Bridgewater, Maine
Click here for the Wood Prairie Farm Home Page.
Farmer Protest in Stowe Highlights NOSB Meeting.

     It has become a troubling and recurring pattern for the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) to disrespect and ignore the Congressionally-mandated citizen stakeholder National Organic Standards Board (NOSB).  The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 created the NOSB with the important role of advising the NOP on matters critical to the operation and success of the organic community.  
     When the NOP willfully ignores guidance from the NOSB trouble is soon to follow.  Back in 2010, the NOSB ruled that hydroponics – crop production without soil – does not conform to the traditional definition of organic farming.  Despite this NOSB position, and shockingly, despite there being no certification standards for hydroponics by which to assess compliance, the NOP - bowing to corporate pressure - has been allowing organic certification of hydroponic operations.

     Two years ago, the Agraian Elders sent a letter NOP Administrator Miles McAvoy (drop down "Organizations" menu) criticizing NOP actions on hydroponics.  The NOP has also ignored our letter.

     In exasperation, a tractorcade protest (scroll to photo of orange tractor) against USDA-NOP’s arrogant behavior was organized by Vermont organic farmers in the resort town of Stowe where the NOSB was holding its Fall Meeting.  Speakers – including Maine’s Agrarian Elder Eliot Coleman – not only spoke against USDA misbehavior, but read specific citations from the USDA’s own groundbreaking Report and Recommendations on Organic Farming which in no uncertain terms described the foundational principle that organic farming must be soil-based. I believe they call that "Checkmate."

     To virtually unanimous support among independent organic stakeholders present in Vermont, many organic family farmers testified before the NOSB protesting the NOP’s allowance of hydroponics and calling for an immediate moratorium on the certifying of hydroponics operations.  Wood Prairie Farm’s Jim Gerritsen read a statement - entered into the public record - issued by the Agrarian Elders.  The statement reiterated the absolute clarity that organic must be soil-based and the illegitimacy of NOP’s actions allowing hydroponics. That statement appears immediately below.


Statement to the NOSB from Agrarian Elders. October 24, 2015

Soil is the Foundation of Organic Agriculture.

     We believe organic crop production must always be soil-based.
     Therefore, crops grown from non-soil-based production systems, such as hydroponics, must never be considered or labeled organic.

Signed by Agrarian Elder:

Michael Ableman, Foxglove Farm, British Columbia

Don Bustos, Santa Cruz Farm, New Mexico

Amigo Bob Cantisano, Heaven & Earth Farm, California

Eliot Coleman, Four Season Farm, Maine

Jean-Paul Courtens, Roxbury Farm, New York

Jim Crawford, New Morning Farm, Pennsylvania

Gloria & Steve Decater, Live Power Farm, California

Jim Gerritsen, Wood Prairie Farm, Maine

Liz & Jake Guest, Killdeer Farm, Vermont

Betsy Hitt, Peregrine Farm, North Carolina

Nash Huber, Nash’s Organic Produce, Washington

Norgert Kungl, Sedwood Green Farm, Nova Scotia

Anne & Jack Lazor, Butterworks Farm, Vermont

Frank Morton, Wild Garden Seed, Oregon

Hiu Newcomb, Potomoc Vegetable Farms, Virginia

Dru Rivers, Full Belly Farm, California

Susan Tyler, Whaelghinbran Farm, New Brunswick

Shirley Ward, Esalen Farm, California

Warren Weber, Star Route Farms, California

Tom Willey, TD Willey Farms, California

Special Offer: FREE Organic Butte Certified Seed Potatoes.

     We have grown Butte Russets for many, many years and are extremely devoted to this variety.  Jim remembers meeting Dr. Joe Pavek - Butte’s breeder from the University of Idaho - at a memorable Potato Association of America (PAA) meeting in Bangor, Maine in 1995.  He gushed like a school girl with praise for this remarkable variety.  Butte is a reliable, high yielding, workhorse potato.  When compared to its chief rival, Russet Burbank, Butte leaves Burbanks in the dust with better taste,  a 20% higher protein content and a whopping 56% greater amount of Vitamin C.  This year we had near perfect growing conditions and raised the prettiest crop of Butte we’ve ever grown.

      We’d like to share some Butte with you so you can try it out in next year’s garden.  Receive a FREE 2 ½ lbs Sack of Wood Prairie Farm Organic Certified Butte Seed Potatoes (Value $16.95) on your next order where the goods total $45 or more.  Please use Promo Code WPF475.  Your order and FREE 2 1/2 lbs Sack of Wood Prairie Farm Organic Certified Butte Seed Potatoes must ship by 4/30/16. Offer Expires 11:59p.m., Monday, November 16, so please hurry!

Click Here for Our Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes.

Listen to Steve Druker's Keynote Speech at MOFGA's Common Ground Country Fair last September.
Recipe: Rosemary Garlic Fries.

1 large Butte potato, roughly peeled and cut evenly into strips
2 T olive oil
1-2 cloves fresh Garlic, minced
1 T fresh rosemary, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 475ºF. Soak cut potatoes in a large bowl of hot water for 15 minutes, then drain and dry thoroughly on a towel. Dry the bowl they were soaking in and return potatoes to the bowl. Drizzle potatoes with 1T oil and sprinkle with the garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper. Toss to evenly coat.

Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of oil onto a baking sheet and spread to coat evenly. Arrange the potatoes on the baking sheet in a single layer. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 5 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until fries are golden and crispy.


A Healthy and Tasty Side Dish.
Photo by Angela Wotton.

Our Mailbox: Crops to Courtroom.

Dear WPF. 

     Thank you for this post, Crops to Courtroom: Chemical Drift and Lawsuit Potential.  This is a topic that we're especially interested in because of the location of our homestead with farm fields to the west of us. We've talked to the landowner and the farmer who farms the land, and our property is mapped and listed on Driftwatch. But the owner claims that the chemicals don't hurt her grass (she lives adjacent to these fields, as well) and so she can't understand that there's any danger. It's a case of don't know / don't want to know / don't care. We've made it clear that chemicals will harm our organic gardens and our livestock, but that has been mostly ignored. We told her about my horse that nearly died years ago (in another location) because of chemical drift when someone sprayed for weeds on their property. That, too, fell on deaf ears. We've been checking into chemical trespass laws here in our state, and your post gives me helpful information as we continue to research this topic.


WPF Replies.

     Here is the post our Facebook friend was referring to.  Find the followup Facebook discussion here.  Jim

DO ORGANIC FARMERS HAVE A RIGHT TO FREEDOM FROM UNWANTED CONTAMINATION ON THEIR OWN FARMS? Why the lack of clarity in American agriculture? Why the supposed confusion that every citizen's foundational right to security and integrity on their own property - as clearly established for many hundreds of years under English Common Law going back to the Magna Carta - somehow may not extend to farmers on their farms? This point of law is AT LEAST AS CRITICAL for citizens who don't farm because if a farmer is not guaranteed the right to security and freedom from harmful unwanted trespass then ALL citizens have lost forever their right of access to clean, pure food.

We are extremely sensitive to this loathesome chemical/transgenic trespass issue because in 1979 our isolated Wood Prairie Farm was 'accidentally' sprayed with "Sevin" (carbaryl) by the State of Maine's then annual massive 3 million-acre "Spruce Budworm Suppression Project." According to established procedure, we had provided notice to the State that our farm was a "high sensitivity parcel with residence" and officially filed for an exemption which was accepted and mapped. However, despite taking these precautions we were 'accidentally' sprayed and as a result disqualified for the pending organic certification of our crops. We made our point by suing the state. Acknowledging their culpability the State settled out-of-court.

Unfortunately, the farmers' legal limbo continues to this day. Here's one hopeful development: This court action was from 2010. We need more rulings like this one to extend the precedent of farmers having the right to be secure on their own farm. https://www.mercurynews.com/ci_16923749

This recent article from Texas touches on various aspects of unwanted chemical contamination. Jim & Megan

"'Trespass is really interesting because when you think about trespassing, you think about somebody walking onto your property or throwing something you can see onto your property,' she said.

"But the definition, she continued, also includes particulate matter, or drops of substances such as dust or smoke the naked eye cannot observe. An example is Borland v. Sanders Lead Co., a 1979 Alabama case in which the court ruled in favor of a farmer whose crops and livestock were sickened by a neighboring smeltering operation."

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