Issue of The Seed Piece:
Maine Tales: Spudmen Invade Bangor
Oral Argument Scheduled in OSGATA v.
Special Offer: Free Organic Potting Soil
Mailbox: Letters From the 99% & Losing
BEAUT-iful. Butte is our favorite russet and one of the best varieties
to grow organically. Bred by Joe Pavek of University of Idaho and
released in 1977, Butte is named after neighboring Butte, Montana. It
is an outstanding late season variety that is high yielding and has
high specific gravity and great taste. Butte is packed with
nutrition and in tests comparing it against standard Russet Burbank
Butte was found to have 58% higher vitamin C and 20% higher
Butte became nearly extinct
overnight after number one french fry buyer McDonald's declared that it
would no longer purchase french fries made from Butte. McDonald's had
concerns that french fries might fry up less than lily white because of
caramelized sugars when fries were made from Buttes that had been in
long term storage. Because of this near death experience Butte has
become a rare variety. For many years our Wood Prairie Farm
organic seed has been virtually the only certified Butte seed grown in
the United States.
Despite rejection by Big Ag, Butte
is an outstanding variety and this year we grew a beautiful full crop
of excellent organic seed Butte to meet everyone's needs this winter.
It was a near record
dry Summer that 1995. Maine soil was
powdery dry – hard now to remember after almost eight or ten wet years
running. We irrigated our organic seed potato crop until we pumped our
irrigation pond dry in early August. The
portion of the crop we irrigated gave us a near normal crop. The portion we didn’t have enough water to
help had yields that were off by 35%.
We were using the bone dry conditions to
advantage by popping out stumps left behind the previous Spring by
loggers who we had hired to cut the trees off an 'overgrown' ten-acre
field which we now call ‘Shaw North #33.’ We were using our 1964 Cat
D-6 bulldozer to pop out the stumps. With
this upcoming job in mind we had got a good buy and bought the dozer
from a French logger up in Fort Kent. Wood prices had been at record
highs that year and with optimism he had bought a newer Cat D-7 for his
woods road building work. Then, as wood prices tend to do, they dropped
mightily, and he had to sell one machine in a hurry.
Despite his newly gained education in which he
learned the surprising fact that our old D-6 had more power than his
new D-7, thinking like a farmer, he decided to sell the older machine,
since as time went by it would be easier to find replacement parts for
a newer machine.
Well, we had never driven a bulldozer
before. Our thinking was that it couldn’t
be that much different from driving a farm tractor and time proved us
right on that one. We also figured a good
way to learn this new skill of maneuvering a 16-ton Cat dozer with an
eleven-foot blade was to plop it down in the center of a ten-acre field
of stumps and go to work. That proved right too. If you have never
driven a bulldozer, let us tell you straight out that this is what them
fellers invented the word ‘fun’ for. That
Summer both of us learned to drive the D-6. Some
years later Peter and Caleb were the next to master it.
And in a few years it will be Sarah and Amy’s
turn and they say they are already looking forward to it.
Machines do break down and right about
the time we pumped our last drop from the pond there was a need to
drive 150 miles south ‘down to Bangor’ to pick up the parts at the Cat
Fortuitously and coincidentally,
the Potato Association of
was having its Summer meeting during breakdown time in,
of all places, Bangor, Maine. One reason is rarely good enough to make
a trip. But now there emerged two good reasons to head down to Bangor.
Over the years we had dealt with several
American and Canadian potato breeders over the phone and here lay a
rare chance to meet them in person. Among them, Hielke de Jong
(Canadian breeder of Caribe’
Chuck Brown (USDA-ARS rescuer of Rose
) and Joe Pavek (University of Idaho breeder of Butte
A long day started at daylight with the drive
south. First secured were the parts to
make the Cat dozer whole again and the parts were loaded onto the
pickup. Next the conference site was scouted out where the PAA meeting
was being held. The PAA includes potato researchers from all corners of
the North American potato world and beyond. The PAA conferences by
witness and reputation are most akin to family reunions where potatoes
are the never tiresome main guest. The day was spent meeting one after
the other dedicated scientists who had committed their careers to
developing the potato, hearing their stand up potato presentations, and
then hearing their sit down potato stories and camaraderie at meal
time. A more genuine, devoted, caring and welcoming crowd one would be
hard pressed to find. The drive home that evening went fast and
thoughts were full of appreciation that the PAA demonstrated with
clarity that science together as community beats scientific endeavor in
Click here for
the Wood Prairie Farm Home Page
& Megan Gerritsen
Oral Argument Scheduled in OSGATA v. Monsanto
NEW YORK – December
29, 2011 –In a
development heralded by the organic plaintiffs, Judge Naomi Buchwald
announced yesterday that oral argument on Monsanto’s motion to
dismiss in OSTATA et al v. Monsanto will be heard Tuesday January 31,
2012 at 10am in federal district court in Manhattan.
small and family owned seed businesses, and agricultural
organizations which comprise the organic plaintiff group represent
over 300,000 individuals. The landmark organic community lawsuit,
filed in March 2011, challenges the validity of Monsanto’s
transgenic/GMO patents and seeks court protection for innocent family
farmers who may become contaminated by Monsanto seed.
“We are grateful that
Buchwald has agreed to our request to hear oral argument on the
motion,” said Jim Gerritsen, President of lead plaintiff Organic
Seed Growers and Trade Association based in Montrose, Colorado. “Last
August we submitted our written rebuttal and it made clear that
Monsanto’s motion was without merit. Our legal team, from the
Public Patent Foundation, is looking forward to orally presenting our
position. The family farmers deserve their day in court. We are
anxious that this case go to trial as soon as possible so that our
innocent farmers may receive Court protection.”
Organic Seed Growers
Association is the organic seed industry membership trade
organization established to develop and protect the organic seed
industry and its mission to provide excellent organic seed for the
needs of local organic agriculture. Paypal donations to OSGATA’s
“Farmer Travel Fund” (www.osgata.org)
are encouraged in an effort to raise funds to enable family farmers
in the plaintiff group to attend the court proceedings and related
information on the OSGATA
v. Monsanto lawsuit may be found at www.osgata.org
Butternut Squash and Carmelized Onion Galette
Photo by Angela Wotton
Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion
For the filling:
1 small butternut squash, about 1 lb, peeled and
cut into 1/2" cubes
1 medium Carola
or similar , peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
2 T olive oil
1 to 2 T butter
1 large onion
halved and thinly sliced in half-moons
1 tsp salt
Pinch of sugar
1/4 tsp cayenne, or to taste
3/4 c fontina cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces), grated or cut into small bits
1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh sage
Prepare squash and potatoes: Preheat oven to 375
degrees F. Toss pieces with olive oil and a half-teaspoon of the
salt and roast on baking sheet for 30 minutes or until pieces are
tender. Set aside to cool slightly.
Caramelize onions: While squash is roasting,
melt butter in a heavy skillet and cook onion over low heat with the
remaining half-teaspoon of salt and pinch of sugar, stirring
occasionally, until soft and lightly golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Stir in cayenne.
Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Mix
squash, caramelized onions, cheese and herbs together in a bowl.
Assemble galette: On a floured work
surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Transfer to an
ungreased baking sheet. Spread squash, onions, cheese and herb mixture
over the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Fold the border over the
squash, onion and cheese mixture, pleating the edge to make it fit. The
center will be open.
Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven, let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette
onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room
temperature. Serves 6.
For the pastry:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup ice water
here for our Wood Prairie Kitchen Potatoes
Make pastry: In a bowl,
combine the flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour. Add
the butter to the well and, using a pastry blender, cut it in until the
mixture resembles coarse meal. Make another well in the center. In a
small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and
add half of this mixture to the well. With your fingertips, mix in the
liquid until large lumps form. Remove the large lumps and repeat with
the remaining liquid and flour-butter mixture. Pat the lumps into a
ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and
refrigerate for 1 hour.
Offer: FREE Organic Potting Soil
We received four seed catalogs in
today's mail so if there was any doubt anywhere, it should now clear to
all that with the long nights we are in the thick of seed catalog
season. Before long it will be time to start early starter crops like
onions and tomatoes and peppers. So now is a good time to stock up on
good organic potting soils. We make that job easy for you by
living soil mixes commercially made
by our friends, the experts
at Vermont Compost Company. We carry three excellent organic potting
mixes which we have been using on Wood Prairie Farm for years.
Please use Promo Code WPF 1109. FREE Soil Mix must ship with order
and entire order must ship by May 15, 2012. Offer may not be
combined with other specials. Offer ends Tuesday 1/3/12.
That's right after the Holiday so better call or click today!
Vermont Compost Company Potting Soil Mix.
Mailbox: Letters From the 99% & Losing Altitude
I saw the
video of the Occupy Wall Street Farmers March in NYC
and your call for justice to farmers and everyone who benefits from
what they produce-all of us. I respect and applaud the work you are
doing. As a person who has deep roots in Maine and a photographer, I
believe Maine to be one of the most beautiful states in our country.
I'm deeply affected not only by it's vast coastal beauty but by the
land itself which yields a rich and varied country, and also by the
work of farmers like yourself, and fishermen, that enable this to be.
I'm attaching a link to an issue of the
journal "The Right of Aesthetic Realism to be Known", titled "A Truly American Economy & Occupy Wall
I feel it will encourage you. It explains what people need to know now
in order for America to have a healthy economy and for people to get
what they deserve.
We are grateful for your expression of support. The messages we've
recieved from folks like you have been virtually unanimous in their
support of our work speaking out on behalf of the people and family
farmers. We are all part of the 99% and we are united with all those
who want our democracy to work on behalf of the many over the narrow
interests of the few.
We found the piece that you linked to be very
interesting as well as very uplifting. Articles and institutions which
promote positive dialogue and citizen involvement are valuable tools
for fixing our broken system. Thanks for writing.
Jim & Megan
I know there is a lot of misinformation out there and I believe it is
being manufactured to undermine the interests of the 99%. I do believe
we have a broken system due to corporate-government collusion. I do
believe that our current dysfunctional system of corporate dominated
'capitalism' and monopoly runs counter to our American ideal of free
enterprise - that's the system that we want for our country and I'll
bet you do too. What I witnessed in NYC - being immersed among the
Occupy folks - are that they are authentic and sincere citizens. They
demonstrate remarkable seriousness, caring and inclusiveness. They see
our country headed in the wrong direction, and under the guidence of
the Constitution they are addressing their government with legitimate
grievances. I believe they are asking the right questions and beginning
the discussions that are healthy for a true and active democracy.
Occupy supports the interests of the people - the 99% - small business,
family farmers and inclusive political dialogue. That's why we support
them. Thanks for taking the time to write. Jim.
The concept of the '1%' more than anything represents a selfish debased
attitude. Sounds like you fail to qualify for the 1% crowd and you're
stuck with us 99%ers. I think you have a very interesting and admirable
perspective and we salute you for it. Thanks so much. Jim.
Appreciate your support and thanks for sharing your friend's story.
We're thinking the link below to an article by
Kathryn Olmstead in the Bangor Daily News is the one that you were
after. It does a good job explaining our OSGATA v. Monsanto lawsuit.
Jim & Megan
Thank you. You are kind. Jim & Megan
Estes Park CO
You will be moving to a potato paradise. No longer will you be limited
to short season varieites. Your long growing season will allow you to
grow mid- and late- season varieties. The moist maritime climate may
present new challenges in the form of fungal diseases. If I were you I
would try Island Sunshine which while late has very strong horizontal
resistance to stresses that you may encounter in your new home.
Make sure your plants have adequate water.
Ironically, I understand there are spots with odd microclimates nearby
on the Olympic peninsula which do not get enough moisture for optimal
growth during parts of the growing season. Good luck!
Wood Prairie Farm Quick
& Megan Gerritsen
Certified Organic, Direct from the Farm