Wood Prairie Farm

 Wood Prairie Farm Seed Piece Newsletter             In This Issue of The Seed Piece:    
   Organic News and Commentary
                           Winter's Grip.
           Friday, February 25, 2011                                         Recipe: Potato and Celery Root Gratin.

Winter's Grip

     A few mornings ago we talked to one of our farmers in northern Georgia who was looking forward to a nice sunny day in the low seventies. Folks have been dry down South.  While this can present problems for starting and growing crops it is a gift for getting tillage and planting done quickly and efficiently A drought any other time of the year in the humid East is a problem for farmers and gardeners. But during planting and harvest, dry weather is always welcome.
     Here in Maine we are still in winter’s grip.  Today we’ll be getting half a foot of snow.  This follows a pretty sunny week with cold morning lows around -10ºF and daytime highs inching up towards +20ºF. After today’s snow we’re forecast to drop down below zero again Saturday night.
     This is nothing out of the ordinary. Beginning in mid-February northern Maine typically takes over from Minnesota and North Dakota as the cold corner of the country. In reality this actually simplifies shipping out our seed potatoes because we know that if it’s warm enough to get them out of Maine they will have a safe journey southward.
     The real cold begins running out of steam by mid-March.  By early April our days of fretting about the cold affecting shipments are fast fading.  And then our life is carefree until Thanksgiving when we begin the winter cold watch once again.

Jim & Megan

Begining to Warm Up. What could possibly go wrong?
Recipe: Potato and Celery Root Gratin.
1 1/4 c heavy cream

1/4 c whole milk

1 small onion, halved

2 large garlic cloves, smashed

Butter, for greasing baking dish and foil

1lb celery root, peeled and halved

1 1/2lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 ounces aged Gouda cheese, grated

Bring the heavy cream, milk, onion halves, and garlic to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat and let steep for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Generously butter an 8-inch square baking dish and one side of the foil. Using a sharp knife or mandoline, thinly slice celery root and potatoes. In prepared dish, arrange a layer of celery root and potatoes. In a prepared dish, arrange a layer of celery root slices followed by a layer of potato slices; season to taste with salt and pepper. Repeat layers two more times.

Remove oinion and garlic from cream mixture and discard. Pour mixture over casserole. Cover pan with prepared foil and transfer to oven. Bake for 40 minutes.

Remove foil and sprinkle top of gratin with the chese. Return to oven and bake until bubbly and golden, about 15 minutes more. Allow to rest 15 minutes before serving.

Source: Country Living magazine, February, 2011.

Click here for Wood Prairie Farm Organic Vegetables

         Potato and Celery Root Gratin.
         Photo by Angela Wotton


Special Offer: FREE Smart bag.

     Container gardening is on the increase! Studies show half of all gardeners grow some of their garden in containers. We have been experimenting with these Smart Bags here on Wood Prairie Farm for several years and now we offer them to you on our website. 

     Here's your chance to earn a FREE Smart Bag. Simply purchase two Smart Bags - your choice of either 15 gallon or 25 gallon - and recieve an additional Smart Bag for FREE ($12.95 or $19.95 value). 

     FREE Smart Bag offer ends Tuesday March 1. Please use Promo Code WPF 1020. FREE Smart Bag offer may not be combined with other offers. Please call or click today! 


Our Mailbox: Success with Potatoes.

Q.     We grew your Yukon Gold potatoes last year for our CSA and farmer's market. While the CSA raved about the flavor, our farmer's market customers provided the real testimonial to the quality of these potatoes. For the entire season we charged $3.00 /lb for Yukon Gold potatoes - and we consistently sold them all! Thank you for being part of our farm's success.

Spring Grove MN

.     Quality sells itself. Jim.

Q.     Hi Gerritsens. Hope you are managing this winter. We are setting records in CT.....I've had enough! I am writing this because a friend of mine at a Whole Foods asked me for some good general info about GMO's. They went online and hear both sides, organic vs. Monsanto, but I really want a good source of general info. I know Jim has been active in this, do you know of a good source for this info?
Ashford CT

A.      You bet. The only way we'll win is if we do our homework and learn the issues. Here are four trusted links for good information on the GMO issue. Jim.

Center for Food Safety. https://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/
Organic Seed Alliance. https://seedalliance.org/
National Oragnic Coalition. https://www.nationalorganiccoalition.org/
Institute for Responsible Technology. https://www.responsibletechnology.org/

Q.     We're in zone 6b, new to growing potatoes and found information about planting them the end of February to planting in late April. If you have any advice or suggestions, we'd appreciate it.

Macungie PA

A.      We can ship your seed potatoes whenever you would like them. For planting potatoes we reccomend letting the soil warm to 50ºF and that should be about early to mid April for you. Upon arrival you can warm the seed to room temperature and that will get them off to a good start. Jim.

Why Monsanto Always Wins.

     In the past thirty days, responding to good old boy relationships and to agribusiness pressure while ignoring serious environmental and economic risks, USDA has in quick succession announced decisions to de-regulate Roundup Ready alfalfa, Roundup Ready sugar beets and Roundup Ready ethanol corn. For years Monsanto has been the beneficiary of kid glove treatment by USDA when it comes to their GMO (genetically modified organisms) applications.

     Now, the depth of illegitimate and dishonest dysfunction in USDA’s regulatory role is shockingly portrayed in an excellent Truthout Report by Mike Ludwig. You won’t want to miss this riveting and readable expose’ which documents such egregious behavior as USDA requesting electronic text for the purpose of extracting “cut and paste” information directly out of Monsanto’s submitted petitions and inserting same into USDA’s  Environmental Assessments.

Click here to read the article.

Explosive Assertions in Huber Letter to Vilsack.

The Precautionary Principle. Something USDA needs to study.

     On January 17, USDA Secretary Vilsack received an urgent letter from a senior soil scientist experienced in protecting against biological warfare.  The letter soberly warned of a newly discovered pathogen apparently associated with overuse of Roundup and GMO crops.  The organism may have the potential to cause infertility and spontaneous abortions in livestock and potentially, humans. The letter urged resources be committed to a high level investigation for further assessment and urged an immediate moratorium on the approval of Roundup Ready GMO crops.
     The letter was hand delivered a full ten days prior to the USDA announcement of the de-regulation of Roundup Ready alfalfa.
     The letter was written by Dr Don M. Huber, Emeritus Professor, Purdue University and coordinator the American Plant Society’s Emergent Diseases and Pathogens Committee, part of the USDA Plant Disease Recovery System.  Dr Huber’s letter began “A team of senior plant and animal scientists have recently brought to my attention the discovery of an electron microscopic pathogen that appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals and probably human beings. Based on a review of the data, it is widespread, very serious and is in much higher concentrations in Roundup Ready (RR) soybeans and corn - suggesting a link with the RR gene or more likely the presence of Roundup.”
     Huber wrote “For the past 40 years, I have been a scientist in the professional and military agencies that evaluate and prepare for natural and manmade biological threats, including germ warfare and disease outbreaks.  Based on this experience, I believe the threat we are facing from this pathogen is unique and of high risk status.  In layman’s terms it should be treated as an emergency.”
     Dr Huber’s letter concludes “We are now seeing an unprecedented trend of increasing plant and animal diseases and disorders.  This pathogen may be instrumental to understanding and solving this problem.  It deserves immediate attention with significant resources to avoid a general collapse of our critical agricultural infrastructure.”

Click here to read the full text of Dr. Huber’s letter on our Wood Prairie blog.

     Can we attest to the veracity of Dr. Huber’s assertions?  Of course not.  At this point nobody can.  That is precisely why an investigation must be conducted.  When one of the nation’s top experts calls the situation an “emergency” the correct action is to heed the advice and get to the bottom of it.
     Can we trust the USDA?  Given the USDA track record of being a rogue agency and a puppet of biotech the clear answer is ‘no’.
     What evidence is there to conclude that USDA is taking this matter seriously?  Not much.  To the contrary, ten days after receiving this letter Secretary Vilsack ignored the warning against deregulating RR alfalfa.  He approved it.  In short order he then also approved  RR sugar beets and RR ethanol corn. Mr. Vilsack’s public GMO approvals indicate that he is ignoring the expert private advice of delaying GMO approval until the facts are in.  Is he also ignoring the expert advice to investigate the pathogen?  This is too important a question to be left unanswered.
     Has USDA never heard of the Precautionary Principle?  Summed up: when in doubt, don’t.  The burden of proof is upon the action occasioned by the greatest risk of harm. Delay of GMO approval represented the correct choice and least risk.  Secretary Vilsack made the opposite choice.  In light of Dr. Huber’s letter, Mr. Vilsack owes the American public an explanation.
     What can be done?  Evidently the executive branch is unable to see clearly and act in the public interest. We need Congressional intervention.  The US Senate Agriculture Committee should immediately hold hearings to insure that an honest investigation of Dr. Huber’s assertions will be made.  They must assure the people that this potential threat to our national security by Roundup and GMOs is very much the concern of our elected leaders and that they will represent the people’s interests over the financial interests of Monsanto.  Jim

Seven Steps to Fair Farming

     Our friends at National Organic Coalition have created a seven point plan that addresses the need to transparently and fairly protect the organic community from unwanted contamination by GMO crops. This concise one page document is destined to become the foundation in the fight to preserve our right to clean organic food and seed. Click here, read the piece and circulate copies to your friends and neighbors. Jim.

Downloadable Companion Cover Crop Manual.

     In the last issue of the Seed Piece we offered a link for a FREE download of an excellent color Cover Crops manual. 

     Now here's a companion manual "Managing Cover Crops Profitably" that you'll want to add to your farm library. Great content and readability on an important and interesting topic. Click here for your FREE download. Jim.

Click here for the Wood Prairie Organic Cover Crop seed offerings.


Wood Prairie Farm Quick Links

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