Wood Prairie Farm                                                                                   In This Issue of The Seed Piece: 
 Seed Piece Newsletter                                                              Maine Tales: Population Explosion.
Organic News and Commentary
                                                                        Offer: FREE Tool Sharpener.
   Friday November 18, 2011                                                                                  Recipe: Lemon Potatoes.

Wood Prairie Holiday 2011 Catalog. Now in the mail and soon to be in your mailbox.

Maine Tales.            Population Explosion.               Township D, Range 2,  Aroostook Maine.           Circa 2001.

     When news 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.

Organized Towns.
      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.

Unorganized Towns.
      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).  And because 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.

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 splatters.
      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 be us.

      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.

Jim & Megan Gerritsen
Wood Prairie Farm
Bridgewater, Maine
Click here to find our Wood Prairie Farm Homepage.

Birdseye View of TDR2 Looking West.Wood Prairie Farm in the foreground. TDR2 in the background. Number Nine Mountain at upper right horizon.

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Lemon Potatoes

Photo by Angela Wotton

Recipe: Lemon Potatoes

2 pounds small red potatoes, pictured are Rose Gold, scrubbed and halved (quartered if large)

1 1/2 tsp grated zest and 2 T juice from 1 lemon

2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed, plus 2 cloves, minced

1 c chicken broth or water

Sea 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 heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until potatoes are just tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove lid and increase heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until 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 minutes. Off heat, stir in parsely, lemon zest, and minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Source: Cook's Illustrated magazine, "Summer Entertaining 2011"

Click here for Wood Prairie Organic Kitchen Potatoes

Wood Prairie Farm Quick Links

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