Wood Prairie Farm

I miss back when
Chore Time.  Megan milking Elsie the Irish Dexter cow.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wood Prairie Farm Seed Piece Newsletter

This Issue:

Modern Marvels Potato

   Modern Marvels, one of the History Channel's popular documentary programs, will be debuting its Potato special tomorrow, Thursday January 28 at 8pm in all time zones (re-airs at 12 midnight).

   The Modern Marvels format provides a thorough and interesting insider's look at a given subject, in this case Potatoes.  One of the producers has family ties to Maine and the History Channel film crew came to Maine and Wood Prairie Farm not long ago to record footage.

  Modern Marvels Potato promises to be an enjoyable experience for anyone who loves potatoes and wants to learn more about the crop that changed history. See The Potato: How the Humble Spud Rescued the Western World

  Maine Tales. Living a Lie.                                    Township D Range 2 Aroostook  Maine.     Circa 2010

   If you think way back to your days in school, no doubt one of your early History lessons was that of the New England Town system and the local Town government which is part and parcel.  Annual Town Meetings, Board of Selectmen, Dry Towns and Blue Laws (Day of Common Rest.).  The truest form of democracy I recall being taught. 
   You may be relieved to know that those school lessons weren't wasted. The New England Town system is alive and well.  Here in northern Maine most townships were six mile by six mile squares of land, 23,040 acres, sliced out of the woods nearly 200 years ago when Maine was still part of Massachusetts and written down onto some District of Maine surveyor's map.  Of course, this was years before white men would come to northern Maine and conclude “Yes sir, get rid o' them trees and this'll  be a pretty good spot to grow potatoes.”  So back then it was anybody's guess which township would grow people and get a name and which would just continue to grow trees and lay low with an administrative designation.  Bridgewater (Pop. 612) became a potato town and while it has had its ups and downs, as any farm town does,  it is mostly holding course.
  On the other hand, here in the State of Maine we've got a great number of townships that have stubbornly never had enough residents to nudge it to organize into a Town replete with the local Town government control. These uninhabited or poorly inhabited townships are known as the Unorganized Territory and the North Maine Woods is chock full of them. Historically, these townships have been mostly owned by the big paper companies. Taxes are paid directly to Augusta, and rules, mostly few in number, are returned directly from Augusta for that favor.  Though the Unorganized Territory comprises maybe half the land area of Maine, there are just over 5000 residents in all the UT of Maine.
  Our family of six lives in one such Unorganized township on the edge of the Maine Woods.  In fact, our family comprises exactly 75% of the population of this nearly 36 square mile  township (for those not real steady at math that means our township has eight residents).  We are known as Township D Range 2, or officially, TD R2 WELS Aroostook.  You see it's this way, the Ranges are north-south grids of townships.  Hereabouts they run east to west beginning at Maine's eastern border with Canada. So we are D Township in the second Range West of the Eastern Line of the State (WELS) in Aroostook County, Maine. We own and farm both sides of the Townline road, known as Kinney Road, which divides TD R2 from the town of Bridgewater.  Because our home and farm buildings are all in TD R2 the infallible State of Maine has decreed that this is where we reside.
    I don't really know what kind of recklessness makes us say “We're from Bridgewater” when in fact we're merely Bridgewater wannabes, dull folk from that woods township next door.  Drawn like moths to the bright lights of bustling Bridgewater, we're living a lie, hoping no one notices our deceit. Most especially no one from Augusta where our precious unorganized status means steady employment in the bureaucracy for a young rooster with a stiff collar shirt out to change the world and with plenty of time on his hands.

Next Time:  Population Explosion  

Aerial farml
Birdseye View of TDR2. Wood Prairie Farm in the foreground.
 TDR2 in the background.   Number Nine Mtn at upper right horizon.

   Click here for our Wood Prairie Home Page 
Action Alert! URGENT!  Stop GMO Alfalfa today!
   On Dec 14, 2009 the USDA released its draft Environmental Impact Statement on GMO Roundup Ready Alfalfa, grudingly forced by lawsuit and the courts to carry out this legal requirement.  The USDA draft EIS is an outrageous snow job that negates any environmental or economic impact caused by GMO alfalfa.  The draft EIS clearly backs Monsanto and works against the best interests of the public and organic and non-GMO conventional farmers by completely deregulating GMO alfalfa and allowing its unlimited planting nationwide.  Alfalfa is the United States fourth most widely grown farm crop and it is a critical feed for livestock including organic dairy cattle.  Because alfalfa is insect pollinated it will become impossible to prevent alfalfa seed contamination by GMO pollen, thereby resulting within a few years in the GMO contamination of all alfalfa fields, organic or otherwise.  The USDA must be stopped from this GMO-precedent establishing whitewash and we must protect the consumer's right to choose.
  Written comments are urgently needed that counter the USDA draft EIS.  If you write only one letter this year to help protect our planet and children from a Monsanto-GMO future, this is it!  Please do it today! Comment deadline Feb 16, 2010.  Thanks! Jim
Click here to get background on the GMO Alfalfa issue. https://www.non-gmoreport.com/ArchivesTwo/org&nongmo_feb10.pdf
Click here to learn specific talking points and where to address your letter https://www.seedalliance.org/Advocacy/alfalfa-alert/
Recipe. Potato Pizza

One recipe for your favorite pizza dough (such as Wood Prairie Farm Organic Pizza Dough Mix)
2 T extra-virgin olive oil

2 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 medium, waxy potatoes (such as Caribe), cooked and thinly sliced into rounds
1/2 c heavy cream
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

1. Make the dough and let it rise for one hour or as per your directions.
2. Dust a baking sheet with semolina flour or cornmeal. Roll out the dough to 18X20 inch rectangle and fit on baking sheet.
3. Brush the dough with 1 T of the olive oil, then sprinkle it with the garlic slices. Cover it with the potato slices, then drizzle those with the remaining olive oil and the cream. Sprinkle with the fresh thyme leaves, crushing them as you sprinkle. Season liberally with pepper and lightly with salt. 
4. Bake until the dough is golden at the edges and the cream is bubbling gently, about 35 minutes.

Recipe from from Epicurious.com
More recipes on Wood Prairie's Facebook, including Roasted Parsnips
Prairie Blush Panfried potatoes
Potato Pizza .  Photo by Angie Wotton Hines
FREE Organic Feritilizer!

Food for Friends by Barbara Kafka
FREE Fertilizer.  
New OMRI Listed Poultry Fertilizer yours FREE.  

Receive a FREE 3 lbs bag of our NEW! Wood Prairie Farm Organic Nutra-wave Poultry Fertilizer ($9.95 value) when you purchase $40 or more of our Organic Seed Potatoes or Organic Vegetable Seed
   Please use Promo Code XXXXX.  Order must ship by 5/7/10. Offer expires Groundhogs Day, Tuesday 2/2/10.  Fertilizer Offer cannot be combined with other offers.  

Question and Answer. Small Scale Local Grain Growing

Q. Greetings from New Mexico!!! I congratulate you for the excellence of your work... if you were closer I would stop in for coffee.  
   I am interested in some of the grains you have listed in your catalog and would like some more information.  Because we intend to save seed we want non-gmo, non-hybrid, open-pollinated grains.  I am interested in your hard red spring wheat, your oats (are the hull-less the same as the other oats?), the winter rye and the spelt.  Do these grains meet our needs?  
    Our farmland is irrigated from the Rio Grande through the ancient system of acequias (ditches) and we are allowed up to 3.2 acre/feet per growing season so moisture is not a problem.  Our irrigation season lasts from April 1 to Oct. 31.  
   We try to obtain contracts from end-product users to ensure profitability. As an example a local pasta maker has offered to contract with us for growing durum wheat.  
    I would appreciate any information you can provide for me.  

Albuquerque NM

We know something about raising organic grain in the north and your conditions approach the other end of the spectrum so I'm sure you'll take that into account.  And I expect you have researched historical grain production in your area and talked to locals - I find that those are two valuable sources.  That said here is what I can tell you.
 Roblin is a hard red spring bread wheat, the earliest that we are aware of.  It was bred in the upper plains and we originally got seed from Saskatchewan.  It does well here (which is not the same as perfect but this is the wet East) and makes good bread wheat in our conditions giving us about 13% protein. It is beardless.
 Our hull-less oats are "common" (untyped) and about 98% free of hulls which allows us to clean and simply roll them for rolled oats.  Conventional oats have a hull around them and folks normally use a (expensive) scalper to seperate the grain from the hull.  For our scale we prefer the hull-less type oat.
 Our winter rye is also common and makes a good rye flour for our bread mixes.  The biggest demand for rye is as a winter cover crop and for that purpose it is excellent.  Rye like its relative wheat is "hull-less" by nature and can be milled after cleaning.
    We used to grow spelt (planted in late summer for harvest the following July) but after three years of beginner's luck we had repeated winterkill and gave up.  We now buy organic spelt from farmer friends where the winters are more mild.  The hulls adhere tight to the grain and are voluminous (from 100 lbs of harvested spelt figure 65 lbs grain and 35 lbs hulls).  The grain is excellent however, and worth the effort.  One farmer modified an old Allis Chalmers grain combine and converted it into a homemade spelt de-hulling machine, just to throw out one idea.
  Wheat was successfully grown here 100 years ago but production largely shifted west until some of us started experimenting with it in the last 15-20 years.  As my friend wheat breeder Steve Jones says:  planting and growing wheat is simple, harvest and handling is not.  I think this is true of the other grains as well.  A good market that values local production will go a long ways towards competing against the large scale industrial grain system that ag has developed. Gook luck.

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