Wood Prairie Farm Seed Piece Newsletter
January 2006

 THREE FOR FREE and a New Year
- Three FREE packets of Wood Prairie Farm Organic Garden Seed ($9 value) - your choice of varieties - when you place an order of $35 or more by Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2006. Choose from among Flashy Trout Back Lettuce, Latah Tomato, Delicata Zeppelin Squash and much more. Please refer to Code XXXXX.

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In northern Maine, January is a month to begin a seasonal hibernation, getting outside to do chores before the darkness of mid-afternoon, get caught up reading the many catalogs piled up, perusing seed magazines and baking and cooking those winter dishes that satisfy and warm. We've included a potato recipe this month to fill those requirements in our 'Megan's Kitchen' section. We hope you'll include this newsletter in your catch-up reading as we have a wonderful interview with Melissa Nelson, Executive Director of The Cultural Conservancy, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and revitalization of indigenous cultures and their ancestral lands and, as always, eclectic agricultural news from near and far in the 'Potato Bin' section.

The photo to the right is Sarah and Amy's way of "winter camping". Stay warm and eat lots of taters. - Jim and Megan


  A Rose Finn Apple A Day...
Rose Finn Apple is an heirloom European fingerling thought to be over 100 years old. It is also known as Rosy Fir. It's somewhat moist, yellow flesh and outstanding flavor make it perfect roasted alone or with other root vegetables. This rare and extraordinary variety is included in January's Potato Sampler of the Month.

        Rose Finn Apple

  Q&A - Potato Growing in Hot Weather
Q: Can you recommend a good potato variety that likes hot weather? - CV, Rancho Mirage, CA

A: Potatoes are a cool season crop that don't do well with steady temperatures above 90-95 degrees F. Northern states like Maine have no problem growing potatoes right through the summer. But in your hot climate potatoes need to be grown in the cooler off-season.

To play it safe I'd select varieties from our list of short and mid-season varieties and plant early (February) so that the potatoes complete their growth cycle by the on-set of hot weather. Among the varieties I'd recommend are Caribe, Reddale and Onaway, early, high yielding and great as new potatoes. - Jim


  Conversations With...
Melissa K. Nelson, Ph.D. (Turtle Mountain Chippewa) is a writer, educator, researcher, and indigenous rights activist. For the past twelve years she has served as the executive director of The Cultural Conservancy (TCC), a twenty-year old native non-profit organization based in San Francisco (www.nativeland.org). Since 2002, Melissa has been an assistant professor of American Indian Studies at San Francisco State University in San Francisco, California (www.sfsu.edu/~ais). Melissa received her Ph.D. in cultural ecology with a designated emphasis in Native American Studies from the University of California, Davis.

Wood Prairie Farm: How did the Storyscape Project begin?

Melissa Neslon: Through our effort to help protect Ward Valley, a sacred area to the Colorado River Indian Tribes of Southern California. In the process of supporting this coalition of tribes and environmentalists, we supported the recovery of the Mojave Creation Songs which sing about Ward Valley. Through the restoration of 30-year old audio recordings of the Mojave Creation Songs, we started the Storyscape Project in 1998.

WPF: How many different languages and tribes’ oral histories have been documented through The Cultural Conservancy?

MN: Through our original audio recordings we have worked with and protected the languages and songs of the Mojave, Southern Paiute, Dakota, and Western Shoshone nations. Through our Indigenous Languages Restoration and Repatriation Project we have restored and repatriated over 500 historic audio recordings to over 35 tribes speaking fifteen distinct indigenous languages.

WPF: Define ethnoecology. How does this term tie in with programs at the Conservancy?

MN: Ethnoecology is the study of the natural world through specific cultural lenses. It represents distinct ethnic worldviews that define how humans relate to and interact with the native ecology of specific places. Put another way, ethnoecology works to protect and restore both biological diversity and cultural diversity and understands that these two efforts are intimately related. The Cultural Conservancy's mission and guiding principles specifically state the importance of indigenous place-based cultural and ecological knowledge and understands that ethnoecology is important and necessary for protecting the world's bio-cultural diversity. The Cultural Conservancy also acknowledges that this effort must be done at the invitation and direction of indigenous communities themselves and that the protection of biocultural diversity is integrated with efforts to protect native land rights and intellectual and cultural property rights.

WPF: Have you seen a resurgence among youth of indigenous cultures in preserving their oral literatures, songs and languages? How do you view the effect of these oral traditions within the tribal community?

MN: Yes, Indigenous youth in the US, around the Americas, the Pacific, and the world are increasingly interested in their cultural traditions. The use of modern technology, particularly audio and video recording, has ignited a new resurgence and interest by youth in recording the rich oral literatures, languages, stories, and songs of indigenous cultures. Youth are creating radio programs, magazines, web sites, CDs, DVDs, and other modern media projects that preserve the oral traditions of their native communities. Living native languages and oral traditions are directly related to cultural identity, health, and community well-being. Revitalizing oral traditions has a positive and lasting impact on the overall health and cultural wellness of indigenous communities.

WPF: The Cultural Conservancy not only records and archives tribal history but goes a step further in repatriating the recordings back to the tribes of which they are a part. What are some ways the elders have used these recordings to their advantage and what steps are in place to have the recordings continue?

MN: Elders, language teachers, tribal leaders, and other cultural bearers are using our repatriated audio recordings for teaching youth language, song, stories, ceremonies, and environmental knowledge and practices. The audio recordings contain a wide range of information, from word lists and grammar lessons, to oral histories and environmental knowledge, to issues of governance and religious practices. Different communities are using the recordings in different ways and every one of them states that they are invaluable resources for their tribe's cultural continuance and strength.

WPF: How do the oral histories tie in with sustainable land management of tribal lands?

MN: Contained within native oral histories are stories and lessons of how to manage the land. Living elders who share oral histories are often sharing what many today call Traditional Environmental Knowledge. Within their histories are place-based stories and descriptions of management practices; from how to harvest and process acorns, hunt deer, net salmon, to the best season for collecting clay for pottery or ceremony and how to harvest a tree for a canoe or sacred object. Integrated into these stories of land management are environmental ethics and values for how to conserve and sustain the resource over time so that future generations will continue to celebrate their intimate relationship to place.

        Conversations With...

  Recipe: Chicken Thighs Roasted with Rosemary, Red Onions & Fingerling Potatoes
Great roasted chicken and potatoes should be beautifully browned and crisp outside yet moist and tender inside.

2 navel oranges
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt, plus more as needed
1/2 tsp dried chile flakes
8-10 Rose Finn Apple Fingerlings
2 medium yellow onions, sliced into 1/2 inch thick circles
2 5 inch sprigs fresh rosemary, plus 3/4 tsp minced
8 chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat and skin

Heat oven to 425 F. Finely grate 1 tsp orange zest. Stir together the zest, oil, 1 tsp salt and the chile flakes in a small bowl. On one end of a rimmed baking sheet, toss 1 T of the oil mixture with the potatoes, onions and 1 sprig rosemary; separate the onions into rings and spread the onions and potatoes into a single layer as much as possible. At other end of baking sheet, arrange the chicken skin side up and brush the tops of the chicken thighs with the remaining oil mixture. Tuck the remaining rosemary sprig between a couple of thighs and sprinkle thighs and vegetables lightly with salt.
Roast for 20 minutes. Baste the chicken and stir the potatoes and onions. Continue to roast, basting and stirring every 10 minutes, until the chicken skin looks crisp and golden and the potatoes are lightly browned in spots, about 30 minutes more.
Peel the oranges with a sharp knife, making sure you've removed the pith and membrane. Slice crosswise into roughly 1/2 inch circles and then chop into roughly 1/2 inch pieces, discarding any thick center membranes. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in 1/4 tsp of the minced rosemary.
When the chicken is done, remove the rosemary sprigs from the pan and discard. Stir the potatoes and onions, transfer with a slotted spoon to a serving bowl, and stir in the remaining 1/2 tsp minced rosemary. Baste the chicken and transfer to a serving platter, top with the orange mixture and serve hot.
Source: Fine Cooking, March 2006


The Potato Bin
The Organic Seed Alliance's 4th Biennial Organic Seed Growers Conference was held earlier this month at the McMenamins in Troutsdale, Oregon. The site was the former Edgefield County Poor Farm which has been remarkably retrofitted and refurbished into a unique and artful conference center and microbrewery 15 minutes from Portland. Ballooning attendance of more than 170 participants - double the number at the last Conference held two years ago in Corvallis, challenged the capacity of the facilities. Organic seed companies from the US, Canada, and Europe mingled with organic seed growers, seed breeders and research personnel for 2 days of symposiums, roundtables, and seed equipment demonstrations. The Conference was preceded by a one day Seed Biology course taught by Dr. Hiro Nonogaki of Oregon State University and Joel Reiten of Holland's Bejo Seeds. To learn more about the Organic Seed Alliance go to www.seedalliance.org.

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Once again we ask, "Who doesn't want to come to snowy Bangor, Maine in February?" You will if you are interested in attending this year's Soil Quality Conference Feb. 22 & 23. Featured speakers will be Tim Livingstone, a certified Soil Foodweb Advisor and Mark Fulford, well-respected organic farmer and independent soil consultant for farms in New England and the Maritimes. For registration information, email Heart of Maine Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) at info@heartofmainercd.org or phone at 207-368-4433.

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The Slow Food's metaphorical Ark of Taste has recently "boarded" several foods from one of our country's greatest culinary capitals, New Orleans. These "Emergency Boardings" on New Orleans French bread, Louisiana oyster, Wild Caught Gulf Coast shrimp and the recently boarded Louisiana Satsuma are available on the Ark of Taste and are just a few of the New Orleans foods in severe danger of becoming extinct because of Hurricane Katrina and Rita's devastating effects. For more information on these special Lousiana foods and to find out how to order, visit the Slow Food USA homepage at https://slowfoodusa.org.

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The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture has approved at least 124 air field tests for Genetically Engineered (GE) trees. Partnerships between biotechnology companies and the forest industry are being formed that indicate a determination to increase the scale of transgenic tree use. As with other GE crops, trees are being engineered to tolerate Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, for fast, uniform growth and for growth in unfavorable soils. The effect on forest ecosystems is unclear but worries include cross pollination with native trees, creation of super-pests, and GE seed scattering, among others. There are many groups working against the threat of GE trees and include the Stop GE Trees Campaign, the Sierra Club, Rainforest Action Network, the Global Justice Ecology Project and GE Free Maine. Interestingly, the national photocopy chain, Kinkos, has also pledged not to do business with suppliers who use GE trees. Source - The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener Dec. '05 - Feb. '06

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Corporate entry into the organic industry is occurring at a rapid pace. The "Aurora Organic Dairy", located in Colorado, has a herd of nearly 6,000 cows. The dairy packages milk under large chains' private labels. Questions have been raised whether Aurora is providing sufficient access to pasture as required by National Organic Program (NOP) standards. Also, criticism is being levied that replacement "organic" heifers are being secured from non-inspected, non-credentialed operations. To read more information on this go to https://cornucopia.org/

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A recent survey by the US Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program has found that nearly 65% of Americans have tried organic foods and beverages, up from 54% in both 2003 and 2004.

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Here are reasons most cited by Americans as to why they buy organic food:
*Avoidance of pesticides (70.3%)
*Freshness (68.3%)
*Health and Nutrition (67.1%)
*Avoid genetically modified (GMO) food (55%)
*Better for my health (52.8%)
*Better for the environment (52.4%)
Source: Whole Foods Market Organic Trend Tracker

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Our 'Maine Speak' section is to help unlock the quirks of the Maine vernacular to those from away.

This month's phrase: "meet myself comin' back"
Definition: To act slow on a decision or plan

Howard: "If I don't get going to town now I'll meet myself comin' back!"

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(c) Jim and Megan Gerritsen, Wood Prairie Farm, 49 Kinney Road, Bridgewater, Maine 04735

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