Wood Prairie Farm

 Wood Prairie Farm Seed Piece Newsletter              In This Issue of The Seed Piece:    
   Organic News and Commentary
                            Garden View from The Big Easy. 
           Friday, January 28, 2011                                            Recipe: Chocolate Cake with Beets.

Garden View From The Big Easy.

     I got back early this morning at 1:30AM, 94 hours after my annual mid-winter adventure began on Monday morning.  I was in New Orleans attending the Direct Gardening Association (the brand new name for the former Mailorder Gardening Assoc).  The 77-year-old DGA is the world’s largest association of gardening companies that sell direct to consumers. Our Board meeting and the conference itself came off without a hitch.  Travel back to Maine was another story. This week’s latest East coast snowstorm created chaos in northeastern airport hubs. In the end it took an extra day to make it back home.

 Subtropical Bohemia
     Our DGA meeting was held in at the historic Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans’s French Quarter.  If you’ve ever wondered whether all the fuss and hullabaloo associated with New Orleans is warranted, from what I could see, yes I’d say it is completely justified. The Cajun culture (decendents of the Acadian French up our way in northern Maine and the Maritimes) has fiercely resisted the homogenization that the rest of America has endured. For those of us who appreciate authenticity, New Orleans is a subtropical bohemia worth checking out.

Garden Trends. 
     One of the major themes at this DGA convention was Trends in the Garden Industry.   Back once again to present his research was Bruce Butterfield, Research Director of the National Gardening Association in Vermont.  Bruce has been analyzing the garden industry for the NGA for over thirty years.
     Last year three out of four households – about 83 million – participated in do-it-yourself (DIY) garden activities, up two percent from the year prior. The Great Recession, cutting across all sectors of the economy, has taken a hit on overall DIY gardening spending.  Measured dollar-wise spend was down 16% last year from the previous five year average of $35.4 billion.  Separate from DIY gardening, lawn and landscape services have tumbled an incredible 44% in the last three years.

Edible Gardening. 
     But here’s the good news.  The only lawn and garden category with increased sales last year was food gardening - up for a second year in a row, and last year up by 21%. This year 20% of gardeners plan to spend more on food gardening. There is reason to believe that the current food gardening growth is more sustainable and on a firmer footing than in past periods of economic turmoil. Expectations are for 10% food gardening growth this year.

World View
     Bruce also shared the findings of the 2010 Global Garden Report conducted by Kairos Future in Stockholm.  This report identified Ten Top Gardening Trends worldwide.

  1. Kitchen Gardening.
  2. Organic Gardening.
  3. Feel-Good Gardening.
  4. The Designed & Artistic Garden.
  5. Re-Creating Wilderness.
  6. The Social Garden.
  7. Urban Farming.
  8. The Lush Garden.
  9. Container Gardening.
  10. Greenhouse Gardening.
For details click here for your FREE downloadable copy of the 2010 Global Garden Report. 
Big report - high speed internet access is recommended.

Recipe: Chocolate Cake with Beets.

Servings: Makes a 9-inch cake
    * 1 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
    * 1/4 cup vegetable oil
    * 2  large eggs
    * 3 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate , melted and       cooled
    * 1/2 cup beet puree , about 4 medium Red Bliss Beets             (roasted or boiled and pureed in food processor)
    * 1/2 cup buttermilk
    * 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    * 2 cups all-purpose Whole Wheat Flour
    * 1 teaspoon baking soda
    * 1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
Cream Cheese Frosting:
    * 1 package (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese
    * 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
    * 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    * 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 9-inch baking pan.
In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the brown sugar with the oil until creamy. Add the eggs and beat well. Beat in the melted chocolate, beet puree, buttermilk and vanilla.

Add the flour, baking soda and salt, and beat until smooth.
Pour the batter into the pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center, 35 to 40 minutes. Let the cake cool 5 minutes in pan before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. Beat the cream cheese with the confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla until smooth. Slice the cake in half horizontally. Spread the frosting over the top and between layers of the cooled cake.
Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Adapted From the book Deceptively Delicious.

Click here for our Organic Grains Section

     Valentine's Day Coming. Chocolate Cake with Beets
     Photo by Angela Wotton


Special Offer: FREE Organic Sweet                              Red Bliss Beets

     Beets are an appreciated element of our winter’s diet.  They are adaptable and can be prepared in many ways.  Chocolate Cake With Beets featured in this Seed Piece’s Recipe section demonstrates the beet versatility.    
     Here’s your chance to earn a FREE 2 lbs bag of organic Sweet Red Bliss Beets ($11.95 value) with your next purchase of $45 or more.  Offer ends Monday January 31.
     Please use Promo code WPF 1018.  Order and FREE Beets must ship by 2/9/11.  Offer may not be combined with other offers. Please call or click today!

Our Mailbox: Clarity and NFU Policy on RR Alfalfa.

Dear Roger,

     Thank you for taking the time to address my concerns. I greatly appreciated your reference to policy in your letter.
     I respect the NFU Policy (J.11.g) which supports the prohibition of GMOs in organic.  GMOs are an excluded method from USDA NOP regulations. And excluded means excluded.  We must honor expectations of organic customers and farmers when it comes to reasonably assuming that organic products are entirely GMO-free. 
     NFU Policy J.11.h articulates how we achieve this GMO exclusion from organic and boldly supports the requirement that organic farmers should be protected from genetic pollution. The NFU Policy is sound.  The NFU Policy respects hundreds of years worth of Common Law: the polluter's genetic pollution must be fenced in and must not contaminate and violate neighbors. Neighbors' right to freedom from injury and invasion is encapsulated in the expression "A man's home is his castle."  Again, hundreds of years of Common Law give us the right to be secure in our "castle", our homes, our farms. I'm grateful and I have been proud that NFU Policy acknowledges and supports this sacred right.
     NFU Policy J.12.a calls for a moratorium on the patenting and licensing of GMO animals and plants until "broader legal, ethical and economic questions are resolved."  It is clear these questions are anything but resolved.  This same NFU Policy continues in stating that the GMO moratorium is required "until issues of cross-pollination, liability, commodity and seed stock segregation and market acceptance are adequately addressed."  It is clear these issues have barely been touched upon and most certainly not been adequately addressed.
     NFU Policy J.12.g requires that "New products involving GMOs be certified as safe by the FDA in testing done independantly of the patent holder." It is clear that independent testing of RR alfalfa has not been performed.  
     The USDA APHIS analysis of RR alfalfa's environmental and economic impact has been shoddy and preordained.
     I believe that the spirit and the letter of NFU Policy makes it absolutely clear that NFU should oppose deregulation of RR alfalfa and should support an immediate moratorium on GMOs.
     The collective NFU Policies represent our convictions.  If we are courageous, live up to our convictions, act faithfully, and are proactive in defending farmers facing oppression and marginalization, we will deserve and earn the respect of our NFU member community and of the broader agricultural community. NFU will stand for principle and rightness and we will deserve to prosper and grow.
Jim Gerritsen, Member
Board of Advisors
New England Farmers Union

[The above letter was part of an exchange sent to Roger Johnson, President of the 107-year-old National Farmers Union. In his reply, Roger stated that NFU is opposed to Roundup Ready (GMO) alfalfa. American agriculture needs a progressive voice on the national scene and NFU needs your backing. Whether you are a farmer or a supporter of farmers, please consider joining NFU https://nfu.org/. If you reside in New England, please join NEFU https://www.newenglandfarmersunion.org/, the New England chapter of NFU today! Thanks. Jim.]

USDA Moves to De-Regulate GMO Alfalfa.

     Buckling to pressure from the biotech industry, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack yesterday ignored the pleas of the organic community and moved to de-regulate Monsanto's Roundup Ready alfalfa and allow it to be planted this Spring. Vilsack failed to address objections that such an action will lead to the contamination of organic crops. NEFU (New England Farmers Union) is urging citizens to call the White House (202.456.1111) and urge President Obama to overrule his Secretary. Meanwhile, our friends at Center for Food Safety vowed that they would challenge Vilsack's move in court.

Click here for the full story from CFS.

DOJ Reverses Policy on Patenting Human Genes.

In a landmark decision last Fall, the Department of Justice reversed decades of longstanding policy and decared that human and other genes should not be eligible for patents because they are a part of nature. The DOJ reversal supported the March ruling of US District Court Judge Robert Sweet in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation. Mere isolation of a gene, the court said, was not grounds for a patent.

Click here for the New York Times article.

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