The Wood Prairie Seed Piece
            Organic News and Commentary
               Friday, December 22nd 2017
                       Volume 25 Issue 19


 In This Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:

  Bringing Nature Indoors.

     Children Hauling Christmas Tree, Monhegan Island, Maine. Circa 1945.  There is snow now blanketing the State of Maine, falling and yet and more is predicted to fall on Christmas Day.   Wherever you live - snow or not - we hope you have the opportunity to take time to spend this holiday season with family and friends.  The shortest day of the year is now behind us, brighter days lie ahead and we all have much to be grateful for.
 Caleb, Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
 Wood Prairie Family Farm
 Bridgewater, Maine

Potato History. We bet you'll learn a thing or two.
So How Did Potatoes Turn From Pariah to Popular?

     By rights, much credit for potatoes meteoric rise on the world scene should go to 18th-century French pharmacist Antoine-Augustin Parmentier.  Surprisingly, it was Mr. Paramentier’s prison experience, courtesy of the Prussians, which convinced him potatoes - as good food - were a cause worth working for.

     This story of potatoes rising from prejudice and morphing into popularity is included in the 2018 Farmers’ Almanac in an interesting potato piece written by Amber Kanuckel.

Parmentier’s prison experience was transformational. He had eaten potatoes and survived — no leprosy or other diseases. When he was released at the end of the war, Parmentier returned to his studies in Paris. By 1772, his mission was to prove to the French that potatoes were delicious and good for you, and in that same year, the French government repealed the potato ban because of Parmentier’s pioneering work. In 1773, he even won an award from the Academy of Besancon for research that proved potatoes were a great source of nutrition for people suffering with dysentery…

With the publicity stunts failing to popularize potatoes, Parmentier tried a new tactic. King Louis XVI granted him a large plot of land at Sablons in 1781. Parmentier turned this land into a potato patch, then hired heavily armed guards to make a great show of guarding the potatoes. His thinking was that people would notice the guards and assume that potatoes must be valuable. Anything so fiercely guarded had to be worth stealing, right? To that end, Parmentier’s guards were given orders to allow thieves to get away with potatoes. If any enterprising potato bandits offered a bribe in exchange for potatoes, the guards were instructed to take the bribe, no matter how large or small.

     Ms. Kanuckel’s article also includes recipes for two delicious namesake potato recipes:  Potage Parmentier and Pommes Parmentier.  I think you will enjoy preparing these traditional potato meals this Holiday season!


Click Here for Our Wood Prairie Organic Potatoes for the Kitchen.
Special Holiday Offer: FREE Award Winning Wood Prairie 'Organic Potato Plant Detective'.

     In the last issue of the Wood Prairie Seed Piece we reported our brand new kit, The Organic Potato Plant Detective had won an industry Green Thumb Award, judged one of the two best edible plant introductions in the United States for 2018.

     Our new GTA winner, The Organic Potato Plant Detective is a special twelve tuber seed potato collection which serves double duty and features two of the best organic Maine Certified Seed potato varieties – Island Sunshine and King Harry.   In addition to growing a bountiful crop of delicious potatoes for eating, the two unique Organic Potato Plant Detective varieties in the kit perform a detective-like bioassay function, helping growers of all sizes diagnose potato growing problems. 

     The Organic Potato Plant Detective is a tool which will help you grow a better crop of potatoes anywhere – just like it does for us here in Maine on Wood Prairie Family Farm

     Now with our Special Holiday Offer, Receive a FREE Organic Potato Plant Detective (Value $19.95) when your next order totals $89 or more.  Offer ends 11:59 PM on Tuesday December 26, 2017, so please act today!  Please use Promo Code WPFF418. Your order and FREE Organic Potato Plant Detective must ship by May 5, 2018. Offer may not be combined with other offers. Please click today!

Click Here for Our Organic Wood Prairie Maine Certified Seed Potatoes.

Wood Prairie Potato Plant Detective. Award winning new product from Wood Prairie Family Farm.
A Treasure Trove of Rural Maine Photos Uncovered After 50 Years.

Kosti Ruohomaa's 1945 photo of his father, headed for the family barn in Rockland, hangs on display at the Maine State Museum in Augusta. A carefully-lighted, nighttime photo of the barn that appeared in Life magazine (above right) was taken in 1949.

     Maine photographer Kosti Ruohomaa's had an uncommon talent for capturing the beauty and unpretentious essence of hard working rural people in his native Maine.

     For almost his entire career Kosti worked for Black Star photo agency in New York City.  For fifty years Black Star kept its collection of Kosti’s photo under wraps.  Now, as reported in this  recent article in the Bangor Daily News, many, many hundreds of never before seen photos of Maine rural life will soon be catalogued and become available for public viewing.

Kosti Ruohomaa was a photojournalist during the golden age of picture magazines in the 1940s and ’50s. Shying away from pretty postcard images, Ruohomaa documented the true face of rural Maine and showed it to the rest of the world. He worked for the famed Black Star photo agency in New York City for almost his whole career.

Since his death in 1961 at the age of 47, Black Star has kept a tight grip on Ruohomaa’s entire archive of prints and negatives. Most of his work has never been published or seen by anyone outside the Black Star office.

But that’s about to change. Last month, Ruohomaa’s work came home home to Maine.

     The BDN article includes a sampling of the wonderful photographs in the collection we’ll soon be able to see.   Don’t miss them!

Caleb & Jim

Click hree for Our Wood Prairie Organic Vegetable Seed.

Twinkies Are Good for Corporate Profits. Carrrots are good for people and children.
Confronting the Twinkie-Carrot Conundrum.

     A really good teacher is as welcome as they are rare.  We’re fortunate our friend Dr. John Ikerd has the keen ability to deconstruct heady food and farm policy and – miraculously! – make it interesting, understandable and memorable. 

      I serve with Dr. Ikerd, a well-respected visionary and now retired Ag Economist from University of Missouri, on the Cornucopia Institute's Board of Advisors. We first met him maybe 12 years ago when we were among the roomful of organic farmers he addressed at MOFGA's Farmer-to-Farmer conference in Bar Harbor.

      In this excellent MUST READ essay in Civil Eats, Dr Ikerd, in his characteristically clear and patient manner, uses Twinkies and Carrots to illustrate food system dysfunction.  He goes onto explain to us why multinational food corporations fight so hard to keep corn and soybean subsidies in place.

"Prior to the 1970s, federal farm programs existed as a way to keep enough family farmers on the land to provide food security for the nation. The basic strategy was to stabilize farm incomes at levels that would keep farming profitable and food prices affordable. The 1970s brought a dramatic shift, as agricultural efficiency became the goal. The model of choice for accomplishing this new policy objective was industrialization: specialization, standardization, and consolidation of control. Farm programs shifted from stabilizing the farm-food economy to subsidizing the agri-food industry. And the farm bill shifted from supporting food production and distribution to food manufacturing and marketing.
"The primary advantage for row crops like corn and soy over fruits and vegetables is that field crops were easier to industrialize and it was easier to develop farm policies to mitigate the risks inherent in their industrialization...

"Perhaps more important for food manufacturers, government farm programs ensure a stable, as well as abundant, supply of raw materials. Farmers can focus on maximum production with taxpayers absorbing most of the risks of overproduction. This allows food manufacturers to finance continuing expansion without the risk of scarcity or high cost of raw materials.

"By focusing on food items that can minimize the cost of raw material relative to retail value—like Twinkies—the corporation can grow faster than actual food is consumed. It has been easier to add value to cheap corn and soy by making Twinkies than to add value to carrots..."

Jim & Megan

Click Here for Our Organic Farm & Cover Crop Seed.
Notable Quotes: The Dalai Lama on Peace.

Recipe: Winter Salad with Spiced Maple Vinaigrette.

3 T pure maple syrup
1/2 cinnamon stick
2 whole allspice berries
1 small whole clove
1 whole star anise
1/2 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
2 T apple-cider vinegar
1/3 c neutral oil, such as grapeseed or vegetable
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

5 oz mesclun salad mix
5 oz head frisee, trimmed and torn into bite-size pieces
1 small carrot
1 small parsnip
1 small turnip
1/4 c shelled sunflower seeds, toasted
4 oz aged sharp Cheddar, crumbled

To make the vinaigrette, combine the maple syrup, cinnamon, allspice, clove, star anise, ginger, and 1 T water in a 1-quart saucepan. Simmer on medium-low heat to infuse the flavors and thicken slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, and strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl. Whisk in the oil in a slow stream and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.

Assemble the salad by combining the mesclun and frisee in a large bowl. Peel the carrot, parsnip, and turnip. Using the peeler, shave each into thin ribbons into the bowl. Add the sunflower seeds and half the cheese. Whisk the vinaigrette to recombine, then toss the salad with enough to coat. Serve sprinkled with the remaining cheese.


Winter Salad with Spiced Maple Vinaigrette.
Photo by Angela Wotton.

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