Issue of The Seed Piece:
Maine Tales: Population Explosion.
Prairie Holiday 2011 Catalog. Now
in the mail and soon to be in your mailbox.
Township D, Range 2, Aroostook
Maine. Circa 2001.
came out not long ago from the US Census Bureau that our little farming
town of Bridgewater had held its own in the last decade folks were
happy and reassured that we were finally bucking the trend. In
2000, Bridgewater counted 612 residents. The census of 2010 indicated
that with 610 we’ve stabilized at about half of our historical peak of
over 1200 residents many decades ago. Despite a perennially challenged
northern Maine potato and woods based economy - which has had a weak
ability to hold onto young people - things could be a lot worse.
Fact is, that of Maine’s 493 organized towns, Bridgewater citizens
comprise one of the older median age populations in the State of Maine.
And we’re a state touted to now have the oldest population in the
country (welcome and thank you, retirees). And that long term trend
we’re bucking? Most rural areas up and down the Eastern seaboard
have been in a pattern of slowly losing population to the
areas-with-the-jobs since the close of the Civil War. Maine’s very
minor statewide population growth over the past decades has been
credited to the Portland-end of the State – what folks up here consider
‘the other maine’. For generations much of rural western, eastern
and northern Maine has experienced population declines.
Now beyond ‘them
organized’ towns there are hundreds of townships which are so sparsely
or non-populated that they have been lumped together as Maine’s
Unorganized Territory (UT).
our house and farm buildings are in the UT this side of Bridgewater, as
far as the State of Maine is concerned, the members of our family are
not residents of Bridgewater. Instead, we officially reside in the
township known as Township D Range 2, west of Bridgewater’s western
townline boundary, a six mile by six mile township known as Township D,
Range 2 (Click here
for an earlier Maine Tales that sheds a fuller light on our UT).
TDR2 is part of the UT and the massive North Maine woods, which
survives to this day without local organized government.
Red Town. Green Town.
The US Census of 1990
captured the fact that TDR2 then had just four residents: the two of us
and another couple with a cabin (‘camp’) on a woodlot south of us. Population changes which occurred over the
course of those next ten years were released by the Census Bureau in
2001. The state’s largest paper, the Bangor Daily News, made a big
hoopla of this news with a big front page story on Maine population
shifts. Included with this article was a
giant full-page detailed color map of the State of Maine divided into
its many hundreds of townships. Each and every township was
painstakingly color coded to indicate percentage population change over
the previous ten years. There were reds splattered down around Portland
and the mid-coast indicating boom growth, and then moderate and modest
growth reflected in varied pink-shadings of towns surrounding the red
Virtually the entire
map north and east of Augusta was solemnly etched in various shades of
pale to bright greens soberly documenting exodus of slight to avalanche
(mill closings) proportions from our beloved rural Maine. Yet, there
amidst the map’s massive forest of green shades was this single
unmistakable square-sided beacon of bright red, as red as if it had
been a cooked up lobster down in some Portland West End restaurant. It
was a township way up north in Aroostook County, in the second range of
townships westward from Canada. A magnifying glass illuminated the
identity of the township’s four clear characters: TDR2. Yes, that would
Marvel of marvels, amid all the paper shuffling and hubbub down
Washington way, the Census Bureau had got
right in their tally the fact that our Peter, Caleb and Sarah had all
been born in that single decade since the previous census.
Reminiscent of Klondike boom towns, the
population of TDR2 had exploded with a bright red increase of 75% from
four to seven. In this past decade, by virtue of Amy’s birth in 2003,
our township has seen another increase, this time of 14%. Now we’re up
to Population 8 and TDR2 has closed ranks with Bridgewater and those
other Maine towns which are bucking that historical trend. And that is
some good news for a change.
& Megan Gerritsen
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Photo by Angela Wotton
2 pounds small red potatoes,
pictured are Rose
scrubbed and halved (quartered if large)
1 1/2 tsp grated zest and 2 T
juice from 1 lemon
cloves, peeled and smashed, plus 2 cloves, minced
1 c chicken broth or water
salt and pepper
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 T finely chopped fresh parsley
Place potatoes in colander and
rinse under running water,
tossing with hands until water runs clear. Drain potatoes well.
Bring potatoes, lemon juice,
smashed garlic, chicken broth
or water, and 1/2 tsp salt to boil in large nonstick skillet. Reduce
medium-low and cook, covered, until potatoes are just tender, 12 to 15
Remove lid and increase heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally,
liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes.
Discard garlic cloves and add
oil to pan. Turn all potatoes
cut side down and continue to cook until deep golden brown, about 6
Off heat, stir in parsely, lemon zest, and minced garlic. Season with
pepper and serve.
magazine, "Summer Entertaining 2011"
here for Wood Prairie Organic Kitchen Potatoes
Wood Prairie Farm Quick
& Megan Gerritsen
Certified Organic, Direct from the Farm