Wood Prairie Farm
 The Seed Piece Newsletter
             Organic News and Commentary
                  Friday December 20, 2013

 In This Issue of The Seed Piece:

    Yes Snow is a Safe Bet.

     Caleb Gerritsen Snow Blowing Out High Tunnel on Wood Prairie Farm. In Maine, this November was shy of snow. However, in the last ten days, December has turned cold and snowy including over a foot which fell last Sunday. Our high tunnel (the new name for what used to be called an unheated poly covered greenhouse), full of raspberries, strawberries and Spring greens, is 20’ x 132’ and oriented north-south.  The windward west side blows clear of snow which means the leeward east side piles up and needs a hand so the high tunnel can shed its winter’s snow load.  Here, in the waning late afternoon earlier this week, with a light breeze and the temperature a few degrees above zero, you see our son, Caleb, carefully backing up the seven-foot snow blower mounted on the back of one of our Oliver 1650 Diesel tractors.  He aims to throw the snow eastward towards our neighbors in Canada.
     Over the past hundred years there have only been a very small handful of ‘brown’ Christmases – meaning no snow on the ground - in Northern Maine.  On the annual December national maps which indicate where a white Christmas is likely, all bragging aside, this is something we are real good at.  If you have a hankering for snow any Christmas, do keep Northern Maine in mind.


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

Click here for the Wood Prairie Farm Home Page.

Steve Marsh. Heroic organic farmer standing up to Monsanto.
World Watches As Australian Organic Farmer Stands Up to Monsanto.
     Steve Marsh is an honest organic farmer in Australia. His farm and crop of organic canola were contaminated by Monsanto’s transgenic (GE) canola. As a result Steve had his farm de-certified because under Australian organic rules transgenic contamination is grounds for de-certification of organic farms. The good folks at Safe Seed Foundation are helping protect Steve and have produced this excellent  MUST WATCH video (6:51) which powerfully tells Steve’s sad story.

     Monsanto requires farmer-customers to sign unconscionable license and use agreements which allow Monsanto to evade culpability and unethically shift legal liability over to Monsanto’s own customers.  In order to save his farm, Monsanto has left Steve no option other than to sue his neighbor for the damages ultimately caused by Monsanto’s faulty invention – GE canola. Monsanto’s invention is faulty because when its GE seed is used according to the manufacturer’s (Monsanto’s) instruction, GE pollen drifts off-site and causes unrecallable destructive damage.  In reality, Steve’s lawsuit has much in common with the OSGATA et al v. Monsanto lawsuit we have been waging in Federal Court for the last three years.

     Steve is an innocent victim of Monsanto's greed.  His fight for justice represents a heroic effort to protect the basic principle of organic farmers’ right-to-farm-organically. Importantly, Steve's landmark case has the strength of Australian Common Law behind it. The verdict will be precedent setting and will affect jurisprudence around the world. Clearly, Steve's heroic actions deserve everyone’s thanks and support, worldwide. Farmers like Steve MUST be secure on their own farms.  The law MUST protect farmers in their right to grow organically. Otherwise, every one of us loses our right of access to good, clean organic food for our families.

    Please join us by helping Steve today.  Please send a donation to this link at Safe Food Foundation which is organizing Steve’s defense (Note: currently, the Australian Dollar and the US Dollar are approximately at par).  Thank you!

Jim & Megan

Click Here For Our Wood Prairie Farm Non-GE Organic Vegetable Seed.

Maine's GMO Label Bill Under Attack.

     Stealth forces opposed to transparency, honesty and GMO food labeling are attempting to pressure Maine Governor Paul LePage to go back on his written promise to sign LD 718, Maine’s historic GMO Labeling law.  Last July, at the end of the legislative session, LD 718 received incredible support from the Maine Legislature, passing 141-4 in the House and 35-0 in the Senate.  Back then, Gov. LePage promised to sign the bill into law but wanted to wait until the legislature reconvenes in January 2014 to do so.

   Primary sponsors Rep. Lance Harvell (R-Farmington) and Sen. Chris Johnson (D-Lincoln) wrote a Bangor Daily News Op Ed defending LD 718.  which appeared this week.  “There have been advances in technology in agriculture. However, the federal government does not test GMOs for safety or otherwise, counting on industry to provide such testing. Monsanto can treat people like lab rats, but we should at least have the right to know that we are living in an experiment. LD 718 does not make a judgment whether GMOs are good or bad, but it does take a strong stand for transparency and consumers’ right to know what is in their food. As we play God with the building blocks of life, it would behoove us to show a little humility.

    Harvell and Johnson defended GMO labeling as an important right for all Mainers and attempted to counter a misleading article submitted by Mr. Gordon Colby earlier in the month.  Mr. Colby, a member of the Maine blueberry industry, made numerous inaccurate assertions and displayed hostility towards consumer interests in his article. Mr Colby is an outlier.  The Wild Blueberry Commission opted to remain neutral on LD 718.  Maine State Farm Bureau members voted overwhelmingly to endorse LD 718 at their annual meeting in November.

   A 2011 Bloomberg article, “Koch Brothers Spread Influence Via Blueberry Farmer” stated Mr. Colby was a member of “Americans for Prosperity,” a group funded by the notorious Koch brothers and which lobbies for less government regulation.  “The Koch brothers tied for fifth on Forbes magazine’s ranking of richest Americans last year, with $21.5 billion each in net worth, reflecting their holdings in Koch Industries. The company, founded by their father, Fred C. Koch, is the second- largest closely held U.S. company after Cargill Inc., with estimated annual revenue of $100 billion, according to Forbes. Charles, 75, is chairman and chief executive officer, and David, 71, is an executive vice president.

     The Bloomberg article also quoted Mr. Colby, “‘I’m a farmer and I just want to farm,’ said Colby, who lives in Waldoboro and started a Tea Party group in his area last year. He said government regulations interfere with his farming, without providing specifics.”  The article further stated Mr. Colby “manages 5000 acres of Maine blueberries.”  As would be typical, if half of those 5000 acres produced harvestable blueberries each year, they would generate about $3 million in sales annually.

   Gov. LePage has until January 14, 2014 to make good on his promise to sign LD 718 into law.  It would be helpful at this time for Maine citizens to call Gov LePage’s office and encourage him to keep his promise to the people of Maine and sign LD 718. The phone number to Gov. LePage’s office is 287- 3531.  Be prepared to state what Maine town you are from.  Thanks!


Click Here for Wood Prairie Farm’s Organic Vermont Compost Potting Soil.

Rep. Lance Harvell. Chief sponsor of LD 718, Tea Party Republican, paper mill worker, organic gardener and horse logger.


Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. She sides with the people and family farmers.
 FDA Buckles and Pulls Farm Food Safety Regs Proposal.

     American family farmers and their customers yesterday breathed a sigh of relief and celebrated an important temporary victory in a reversal issued by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  In a surprising move - just weeks after the public comment period ended - the FDA has admitted they have a lot yet to learn about agriculture and have withdrawn their highly criticized overkill proposal to address theoretical food safety concerns on American farms.  Had the FDA proposals been enacted as proposed and without modification, many family farmers would have been forced out of business. A revamped proposal is expected to be released for public comment in Summer 2014.

    Click here to read the public comments submitted last month by Wood Prairie Farm’s Jim Gerritsen to the FDA on their proposal.

    Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) – herself an organic farmer for 40 years - was one of the Congressional leaders most outspoken in her defense of family farmers against the FDA proposal.  "’This is a major victory for farmers in Maine and across the country,’ Pingree said. ‘The one-size-fits-all approach the FDA was pursuing was overkill for thousands of small farmers and would have put many of them out of business. The size of the regulation just didn't match the size of the risk.’”

  For further background on the FDA withdrawal,  read Rep. Pingree’s press release, Federal Regulators Agree to Request From Congresswoman Chellie Pingree to Revise Important Food Safety Rules.


Click Here For Our Wood Prairie Farm Organic Certified Seed Potatoes.

Notable Quotes: Wendell Berry on Why We Don't Give Up.

      "We don't have a right to question whether we're going to succeed or not. The only question we have a right to ask is what's the right thing to do? What does this earth require of us if we want to continue to live on it?"

- Wendell Berry, Kentucky Farmer and Poet
Born 1934


Wendell Berry. He always deserves our rapt attention.

Onion Thyme Jam.
Photo by Angela Wotton.
Recipe: Onion Thyme Jam.

3 T extra-virgin olive oil
6 medium onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 8 cups)
6 medium shallots, thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
1/2 c sugar
2 bay leaves
2/3 c honey
1/2 c brandy
1/3 c white wine vinegar
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper

Heat oil in large skillet over med-high heat. Add onions, shallots, sugar and bay leaves; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, and bring to a simmer; reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is dark golden and syrupy, about 20 minutes. Immediately transfer to jars. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 1 month.


Special Offer: There's Still Time! Discounted Gift Certificate Offers For Christmas.

     There is snow on the ground in Maine and Christmas is just days away…but yes! We can still guarantee your loved one will receive a Wood Prairie Farm Gift Certificate by Christmas. Here’s how!

     We have two timely Wood Prairie Farm Gift Certificate Offers for you:

1.    Order a Gift Certificate by noon on Monday December 23
and we will Ship your Wood Prairie Farm Gift Certificate  and our new catalog via FedEx Overnite Air for FREE to arrive Christmas Eve. (Value $35).  Please use Promo Code WPF1165. Gift Certificates minimum value are $100 per address. Offer Ends 1:30PM Eastern Monday December 23. Please act now!

2.    Order a Gift Certificate by noon on Tuesday December 24
and we will Email your Wood Prairie Farm Gift Certificate to your gift recipient by Christmas Eve and give you a 10% Discount on the Gift Certificate’s cost.  Please use Promo Code WPF1166. Each Gift Certificate minimum: $15. Offer Ends Noon Tuesday December 24. Please call or click today!

Click Here for our Wood Prairie Farm Organic Kitchen Potato Section.

Wood Prairie Farm Gift Certificate. The perfect organic gift.
Our Mailbox: PLH Hate King Harry, Monsanto Consternation, World Rejects GE Crops.

PLH Hate King Harry.

Dear WPF.

     I am curious how the King Harry variety works with leaf hoppers. Does it seem to repel at all? A commercial potato operation started up around here about three years ago and they have at least one 30 acre piece about two mile (as the crow flies) and every time they spray I am swamped with Colorado Potato Beetles...Also I have noticed an almost total absence of honey bees on my eleven apples since he started plowing up fields into potatoes. How are the storage abilities of this variety? Keep up the battle with the transgenic food-like-substance Corporations. We all owe you a deep debt of gratitude. Just hope you do not get visited by Monsanto's Blackwater thugs.


World Wide Web

WPF Replies.

     Thank you. Yes, the conventionally bred potato variety King Harry displays moderate resistance to damage ('Hopper burn') from Potato Leaf Hoppers. Up here in Northern Maine where PLH pressure is normally not high, we see good control. As you go South - and closer to where PLH over winters in the Gulf States and must migrate north from - ability to withstand PLH pressure begins to wane. Note, "resistance" is NOT "immunity" and therefore is a relative value. However, for anyone who has been unable to grow potatoes because of Leaf Hopper pressure, King Harry should absolutely be trialed. King Harry also displays very good resistance to Colorado Potato Beetles and Flea Beetles. It is an important, innovative new variety from Cornell. And yes, King Harry is a good keeping potato.


Monsanto Consternation.

Dear WPF.

     Indeed! UN Report Says Small-Scale Organic Farming Only Way to Feed the World.

Hancock, Maine

WPF Replies.

     Much to Monsanto's consternation, the world's food-insecure population will be helped by application of modern organic farming principles and NOT by Monsanto's patented death-culture seed. These UN studies cited in the article prove the superiority of organic farming and that is good for the people and good for the planet.


World Rejects GE Crops.

Dear WPF.

     Jim, you have a way of succinctly describing the issue making it easy for folks to understand. Personally, I have taken the opportunity to initiate discussions with family, friends and colleagues. I really feel that if all of us take just a few minutes of our time to educate ourselves and then our family, friends and neighbors on the horrors of big Biotech's poisons we can reach a critical mass to stop this run away train on the tracks! Thanks for all the work you've been doing
Manchester, NH

WPF Replies.

     Thanks. This much we know for sure: government and industry are NOT giving us honest information on GE food. This article If the World Outside Hawaii Won't Accept GMOs Why Should We? offers insight. "The American Corn Growers Association representing over 14,000 U.S. corn growers issued more bad news to its members about the impact GMO corn has had on their industry: Japan and South Korea are buying non-GMO corn from Brazil and China instead of buying U.S. corn. The USDA lowered its corn export forecast by another 50 million bushels. American farmers cannot be expected to pick up the tab for a shortsighted U.S. biotech policy that suggests foreign consumers and importers will ultimately be forced to accept GMOs...Hawaii's GMO papaya has taken the same path of falling production and shrinking returns. Papaya sales for 2011 hit a low of $9 million, down from $15 million in 1998, just before the introduction of the GMO papaya." Prior examples include market rejection of the 'Flavr Savr' GE Tomato and Monsanto's 'New Leaf' GE Potato. These examples illustrate why Biotech is so horrified by the prospect of GMO labeling which will provide product transparency to consumers and allow the proper operations of the free market mechanism. Biotech has anxiety - and for good reason - that if given a choice consumers will run-not walk-away from their scandalously poorly tested gene-spliced lab creations. We must do as you advise. We MUST all do our homework and then provide concise cautioning to those we love. This work matters and it is our responsibility. An attitude of complacency is just lethargy combined with buying into Monsanto's propaganda. It must be shaken off. Our children are counting on us to do the right thing and take action.


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