Wood Prairie Farm                            In This Issue of The Seed Piece: 
 Seed Piece Newsletter                 Bridgewater Town Meeting.
      Organic News and Commentary
                              Yes We Have Seed Potatoes.
              Friday May 11, 2012                                                Additional NDSU Organic Seed Potato Source Evaluation Research.
                                                                                                            Recipe: Shepherd's Pie.
                                                                                                            Special Offer: FREE Wood Prairie Farm Organic Potato Blossom Festival.
                                                                                                            Mailbox: Trust Potato Coincidence
   Final Goodbye.

    Bridgewater Town Report. Elden Bradbury on Oliver tractor pulling a Thomas Potato Windrower.

Circa 1947. Owl brand belonged to Bradbury Brothers.`
Bridgewater Town Meeting 

     New England towns hold their Town Meetings every March.  And Bridgewater, Maine, Population 610, of course follows suit. The Town Report comes out prior to Town Meeting detailing the state of important Town finances, for budget approval purposes, like the Cemetery Fund (Balance $2780.57), the Library Fund (Balance $3020.00) and the Ball Field Fence Reserve Account (Balance $678). Also included is the Town Clerk's Report documenting 2011 Births (7), Deaths (6) and Marriages (7).
  One of those six Bridgewater deaths in 2011 was that of 93-year-old iconic local potato farmer Elden Bradbury back last Fall during digging.   Well, not only did Elden grace the cover of this year's Town Report, but our Maine Tales story "Remembering Eldon" which we wrote for our October 18 Seed Piece Edition was included in this year's Town Report as a tribute to this leading citizen.  Here's the "Remembering Elden" article in case you missed it. 

Jim & Megan Gerritsen
Wood Prairie Farm
Bridgewater, Maine

Yes We Have Seed Potatoes.

     That is the answer to an often asked question we hear a lot this time of year. All winter long we grade out the crop of organic seed potatoes which we grew here on Wood Prairie Farm last year, harvested last Fall and have kept in our on-farm underground potato storage at a crisp 38ºF through the winter.  We budget out the crop  as best we can so that whenever you order, from September through the Fourth of July, you will have the best chance of getting just the specific variety you are looking for.  This Spring we still have good quantities of most varieties available for your immediate shipping. In stock varieties include: Adirondack Red, All Blue, Butte, Caribe', Carola, Elba, Island Sunshine, King Harry, Rose Gold, Yukon Gold, German Butterball, Rose Finn Apple Fingerling, Swedish Peanut Fingerling.

Click here for our Wood Prairie Organic Seed Potatoes.

Plenty of Seed Potatoes Left. Yukon Gold is one among many varieties of our Wood Prairie organic seed potatoes which we still have in stock in quantities of from one pound to 1000 pounds. Call today!
Additional NDSU Organic Seed Potato
ource Evaluation Research Now Available

     As reported in a recent Seed Piece newsletter, North Dakota State University has been conducting annual Seed Source Evaluation research for several years.  The first published results from 2008 showed that the organic seed potatoes grown by Wood Prairie Farm outperformed those of the competition in all important categories.  
Now, the Seed Source Evaluation results for 2009 and 2010 have been made available by NDSU.

     Results indicate that Wood Prairie organic seed potatoes again came out on top with dramatic superiority demonstrated over the competition in the 2009 trials.

     The results for 2010 are nuanced because of several anomalies that year. Towards season end, the entire potato trial died down prematurely due to brown spot (Alternaria alternata).  Additionally, an early Spring allowed planting 10-14 days earlier than occurred in either 2008 or 2009.  This early planting decision left insufficient time for our typically dormant-by-design Yukon Gold seed to be warmed out of dormancy and become adequately conditioned for growth prior to planting. The result of the slow start/early die back combination was a preponderance of moderately sized tubers which did not receive sufficient time bulk up and graduate from the "B" (undersize) tuber category to that of full-size tubers.
     This excellent on-going NDSU research demonstrates the tremendous value of multi-year trialing which allows the discernment of performance patterns amidst the 'normal' year-to-year growing season variations.

Click Here for Wood Prairie Organic Seed Potatoes.

Good Seed. Nature's best value.
Recipe: Shepherds Pie

14 T butter
2 lbs lamb shoulder (or beef), trimmed and cut into 1/2" cubes
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 T flour
1 1/2 c beef stock or water
1 T worcestershire sauce
1 T finely chopped rosemary leaves
1 T finely chopped thyme leaves
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 c frozen peas, thawed
3 large Butte potatoes (about 2 lbs), peeled and quartered
1/2 c half-and-half

Melt 2 T of the butter in a large pot over high heat. Add one-third of the lamb or beef and brown on all sides, 4-5 minutes. Transfer lamb to a plate and repeat the process two more times, using 2 T of the butter each batch. Add onion and carrots to pot, reduce heat to medium, and cook until softened, scraping up any browned bits, 3-4 minutes. Return lamb or beef and its juices to pot along with flour and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Stir in stock or water, worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until meat is tender, about 40 minutes. Uncover pot and simmer, stirring often, until thickened, about 35 minutes more. Remove from heat, stir in peas and set aside.

Meanwhile, put potatoes into a large pot and cover with salted water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until tender, 20-25 minutes. Drain and add 6 T of butter, half-and-half, salt and pepper to taste. Mash smooth with a potato masher.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Transfer meat and vegetable mixture to a 2-quart casserole dish. Top evenly with mashed potatoes. Cut remaining 2 T butter into small cubes; scatter over potatoes. Bake until golden brown and bubbling, about 30 minutes.

Serves 6
One of our family's favorites. Megan.

Source: Saveur.com

Shepherd's Pie
Photo by Angela Wotton

Special Offer: FREE  Wood Prairie Farm
                    Organic Potato Blossom Festival

     What could be better than a patch of vibrant potato plants with a beautiful rainbow of colored potato blossoms to enjoy during the summer followed by a delicious harvest of colorful spuds for the dinner table? Our Potato Blossom Festival delivers all that and more.

     Here's your chance to earn a FREE Wood Prairie Farm Organic Potato Blossom Festival Collection ($19.95 value) with your next purchase of $55 or more. FREE Organic Potato Blossom Festival offer ends Tuesday, May 15.

     Please use Promo Code WPF 1120.  Your order and FREE Organic Potato Blossom Festival must ship by 5/22/12.  Offer may not be combined with other offers.  Please call or click today!

Click here for Wood Prairie Farm Organic Vegetable Seed



Our Mailbox: Trust Potato Coincidence Cost Ear to Ground.

Trust Organic Family Farmers.

Dear WPF.
     Know your farmers, know your food. I would trust my small local farmers whose farms I have visited above some huge corporate "farm" thousands of miles away.

World Wide Web

WPF Replies.

     Most folks are not able to visit a farm. And some that do don't have enough background to know which pertinent questions to ask of the farmer. Our farm has been certified organic for 30 years, long before 2002 when Congress had USDA establish the National Organic Program. I call organic 'transparent' because the same legal regulations and standards which all certified organic farmers adhere to, is there for all eaters and the entire world to see. I have served as a volunteer on our local organic MOFGA Certification Committee for over 20 years. My experience there taught me that the assurance to consumers which organic certification provides is both valuable and necessary. The words 'natural' and 'local' have no legal nor agreed upon definition. Therefore, one can find instances where the terms are misused. Despite what biotech would have us believe GMO products are not 'natural'. In grocery stores here in northern Maine, I have seen marked as 'local': sweet corn, squash and apples ground in southern New England and beyond.
     Years ago the organic community invented the organic certification system to protect its eaters from fraud and to protect its honest farmers from unfair competition due to an unlevel playing field. I believe the same need still exists today. To me there are three important criteria: Organic, family-scale and local. I can cite examples of local food I would not want to feed my family. And we do want our food dollars going to other family organic farms, not a Big Ag corporation who has bought themselves a seat a the organic table. 'Know your farmer' is a good concept but not always feasible, for example, when one is traveling or when one is new to the good food world and unequipped to differentiate the nuances. For us organic certification is part of our commitment to making organic a permanent fixture in the food landscape for all time and everyone.

Potatoes & Moisture.

Dear WPF.
     I'm so used to trying to keep all water away from my stored potatoes, I have developed a superstition that I should not plant potatoes in the rain. What's your opinion on that one? I'm greatful for any advice you may have.

I hope your season is happy and drier than last year! All my best for your family and farm.

Cape Elizabeth ME

WPF Replies.

     Moderation is best of course. Storage potatoes need sufficiently cool and moist air (38-40ºF and 90% humidity) so that moisture is not pulled out of the tubers and physiological aging is minimized. Planted seed potatoes obviously contain moisture in the seed piece but we've seen rare, extremely dry Springs (1995 comes to mind) where the dry soil sucks moisture out of the seed pieces and causes shriveling and that hurts growth.
     On the other hand too much water - saturated Spring soils like Maine has been getting of late - can actually suffocate potatoes and cause the seed to rot. Since wound healing does not occur at temperatures below 45ºF - important for callousing over the cut seed surface - we like to play it safe and let the soil temperature (taken at 4" soil depth at 7AM) rise to 50ºF before we plant. Extended cold and wet soil create conditions that can allow colonization by pathogenic fungi resulting in seed rot.
     Greensprouting our seed potatoes also helps us in this process of protecting our crop. We work for and like fast sprout emergence because as soon as the potato plants pop up through the soil surface they benefit form the sun's ray and develop a markedly improved defense against external parasitic forces out to colonize.


Odd Coincidence.

Dear WPF.
     There's an article for "Organic Week" in the Scientific American about feeding the world. Their premise is that Organics can't feed us and supply the goods we need for the future. I disagree. I think that you would be the perfect person to give comments on it!

World Wide Web

WPF Replies.

     I've heard about the Scientific American piece, but in the midst of planting, have not read it. Oddly, a similarly themed piece recently appeared in Nature. Some thoughts.

1.) An article in Harpers ('Let Them Eat Cash' June 2009) asserts that with current food production capability the world could feed a population twice what we currently have.

2.) Our 'modern' farm production and food system is energy intensive and unsustainable and will destabilize as energy prices rise.

3.) As an organic farmer our goal is to produce, with the least environmental impact, the highest quality food and seed for our family and our customers. researches at University of Maine and USDA Ag Research Service have documented that our Wood Prairie Farm yields are at least as high as those found in conventional production. To our mind, more significant than simplistic measurement of yield, however, is the high level of nutrient density found in well-grown organic food. When we're discussing feeding the world's people over the long term we should use sophisticated measurements which matter such as nutrition per acre and environmental impact vs. crude tonnage with environmental impacts externalized.

4.) If we truly hold foremost the welfare of the world's bottom 25% poorest and least food secure citizens, then ahead of the corporate North's expensive proprietary seed and technology, lies the reality that the organic farming's best management practices taught and adopted will do far more to empower those folks to end hunger and gain food sovereignty than all the unaffordable inputs from the corporate culture of death.

5.) Organic can feed the world. Britain's Soil Association conducted an exhaustive review of all published research that makes claims about the global productive capacity of organic agriculture. "Available data on yields suggests that organic farming does have the potential to produce enough food to feed the world." Read more below.



Cost of Contamination.

Dear WPF.


     I am a student and a supporter of organic farming. I am researching the regulation of Organic farms and their crops concerning GMO seeds and their contamination. And I have a few questions for you.

What is the estimated cost, to your knowledge, of the damage of contamination of organic farms?

How much will organic farms have to pay to replenish their crops from contaminates and pulling their contaminated food from the market?

Also what do you think are the steps that have to be taken to stop this cross contamination of pure seeds and GMO?

World Wide Web

WPF Replies.

 I doubt anyone knows the answers to the first two questions you ask.

1. Contaminated organic farmers are reluctant to admit contamination because they fear being pursued for patent infringement by the holder of the transgenic technology causing the invisible pollution.

2. Transgenic contamination is of an unrecallable nature. Contamination of organic seed extinguishes its value as organic seed for the organic marketplace. The contaminated loss of organic seed is permanent and beyond financial measure because it represents the loss of irreplaceable unique locally adapted genetic material.

3. We must win our OSGATA et al v. Monsanto lawsuit so that family farmers will not be liable for patent infringement should they become contaminated by Monsanto seed. Once this protection is in place farmers suffering economic loss due to contamination may use the courts to try and recover for damages. The situation at present allows the transgenic companies to pollute with impunity and the organic community bears the burden.

It's not fair and we are prepared to fight.



Ear to Ground.

Dear WPF.

     Jim Gerritsen shares the coolest food safety stuff, especially on the subject of Monsanto. He is an an organic seed grower in northern Maine and part of the lawsuit OSGATA vs. Monsanto. Most things I post that are Monsanto oriented come from Jim. If you want an ear to the ground on this important subject, Jim is the guy to listen to. Thanks, Jim, for all you do.

World Wide Web

WPF Replies.

     Thanks for your support.


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