Wood Prairie Farm

Mike Michaud and Jim touring Wood Prairie Farm
Michaud Supports Farmers.  Our friend  Congressman Mike Michaud (D - Maine 2nd District) and Jim at Wood Prairie Farm last week discussing farming in Maine.  Mike is a former paper mill worker from the northern Maine town of Millinocket at the foot of Katahdin.  He ably represents the northern three-quarters of Maine - the largest Congressional  district east of the Mississippi.
   Jim thanked Mike for joining 55 other members of Congress in signing onto Senator Leahy's and Rep. DeFazio's letter to USDA Secretary Vilsack urging USDA to retain regulated status on GMO Roundup Ready Alfalfa.  Click here to read that letter and see who else signed on.  

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wood Prairie Farm Seed Piece Newsletter
    This Issue:

Potato Harvest Break
   Our kids woke up excited and early this morning and for good reason.  With today's half-school-day Potato Harvest Break begins and our own Wood Prairie potato harvest begins in earnest.  Northern Maine is one of the last areas in the country which still closes its schools every Fall, allowing school kids the opportunity to help local farmers get their potato crop in.  This tradition dates back to the second World War.  Because of their work experience, for many decades Aroostook County kids have earned and enjoyed an unparalleled reputation as hard workers.  We've always believed that our kids learn more from their three weeks in the potato fields than time spent inside the classroom walls.  Working together builds family and community and those are life long lessons.    Jim & Megan
To read Jim's essay "The Potato Culture of Aroostook County Maine USA" please click here.  

Maine Tales:  Fantasy Equivalence.                    Presque Isle,   Maine.   Circa 2000
    Amid the GMO (genetically modified organisms or gene-spliced food) kafuffle one of the strategic propositions advanced by gene-splice proponents is the bald claim that GMO  crops are "substantially equivalent" to their non-GMO counterparts. 
Back in the Reagan 80s, through razzmatazz,  revolving-door-federal-regulators were sufficiently dazzled by confident biotech cheerleaders to set the bar pretty low.
   Now here in Maine, back about ten years ago we had a well attended debate on GMOs at our local college. One debater, a
distinguished visiting  Professor and opponent of  GMOs offered a memorable explanation of the fallacy of Substantial Equivalence.   Back then, you will remember, it was the Pre - 9/11 Era.  Bill Clinton was President, and Billy Graham was on the evangelical trail.  To illustrate this shakey concept, the Professor took to comparing these two men:  
  • Analyzing Bill & Bill.
    • Both have the name of Bill,
    • both are Americans, 
    • both are public figures, 
    • both are tall,
    • both are married, 
    • both are skilled public speakers, 
    • both travel extensively, 
    • both are influential on public policy,
    • both comb their hair back over their head,
    • both are very affable fellows.
    pink flamingos
    Substantially Equivalent Flamingos.

   The Professor continued: "Now under the principle of Substantial Equivalence we can see great commonality between these two men.  In fact after careful analysis it is clear that, yes, they are substantially equivalent.   Thus we can confidently proclaim that our research demonstrates with clarity that Bill Clinton and Billy Graham are one and the same: there is no difference."  And the laughter followed.
   Apply superficial  criteria - achieve superficial deductions.    The Professor's  illustration goes a long way towards explaining how our regulators, weak kneed when it comes to the aggressive tactics of the likes of Monsanto, have been bamboozled and cowed by the biotech industry.  If a GMO strawberry, with gene-spliced genetic material from a frost resistant flounder is "just like" a regular strawberry, the flawed logic goes, then there's no need to require labeling.  Avoidance of labeling has been biotech's crowning achievement.  They know that mandatory labeling would be biotech's kiss of death.
   Well, hereabouts in a democracy, information and transparency are sacred tools that folks can't live without.  Every day we vote with our wallets,  we spend money where it will support our values and our community.  We don't take kindly to paternalism that muddles and short circuits this responsibility whether that paternalism be governmental or industrial, or in this case a cockeyed cross of the two.   Jim
Common Ground Fair Common Ground Country Fair
  Don't miss the fun!  Mark your  calendars now and plan to attend the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Assn. 34th Annual Common Ground Country Fair in Unity Maine on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, September 24-26, 2010.  Each year over 50,000 fair goers attend this event, which with extensive agricultural exhibits celebrates rural life.  CGCF is recognized as the largest organic gathering in North America.  If you have never been, you owe it to your family to make plans to do so either now or in the near future.   The Wood Prairie crew will be getting that Sunday off, rain or shine.  Jim will be giving the CGCF keynote speech on Sunday morning at 11 am.  His talk is entitled "Observations from Thirty-five Years of Watching the Maine Organic Community Grow."  Click here for details on the Common Ground Fair.  
Red Russian Garlic
FREE Red Russian Garlic
This is a banner year for our Red Russian Garlic and you can earn yourself a FREE bag of this delicious treat with our Special Offer.  Simply purchase a 5 Month Potato Sampler of the Month Club membership for your family or as a Gift to a friend or loved one and receive a FREE 1 lb. bag of Red Russian Garlic ($18.95 value).  Better yet, stock up and earn two 1 lb bags of Red Russian Garlic when you order an 8 Month Potato Sampler Club.  Club membership can begin whenever you desire so this offer is  especially ideal for gift giving.  
Please use Promo Code WPF XXXXX.  Offer expires Friday 9/24/10.  FREE Garlic Offer cannot be combined with any other offers.
Recipe: Potato Buttermilk Rolls
These call for buttermilk but since I can't find any without additives I substituted 1/2 milk and 1/2 yogurt. They turned out great!  Megan

1 large dry textured potato (I used Elba), about 1/2 pound, peeled and cubed
1 1/2 c water
1 1/2 c buttermilk or 3/4 c milk with 3/4 c yogurt
2 packages active dry yeast
6 c all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
2 T sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 c unsalted butter, at room temperature

In a small saucepan, combine the potato and water and bring to a boil. Cook until potato is soft - about 10 minutes.
Pour the cooked potato cubes and water into a large bowl and mash the potato cubes with a fork. Stir in the buttermilk and let cool to warm (110 degrees F). Dissolve the yeast in the potato mixture and let stand 5 minutes. Add the flour, sugar, salt and butter and stir with a wooden spoon until a shaggy mass forms. Scrape the dough out onto a floured work surface. Invert the bowl over the dough and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. Uncover the dough and knead until it is smooth and elastic, dusting the work surface with flour to keep the dough from sticking, about 5 minutes.

Form the dough into a ball, transfer it to a lightly buttered bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk, about 1 hour.

Potato Buttermilk Rolls
Potato Buttermilk Rolls.  Photo by Angie Wotton

Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a clean work surface. Cut it in half with a sharp knife. Cut each half into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough against the work surface into a ball. Place the balls on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Cover the rolls with a kitchen towel and let them rise in a warm, draft-free spot for 15-20 minutes.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 375 F. Lightly dust the tops of the rolls with a little flour. Bake until they are puffed and lightly browned, 20-25 minutes.

Makes about 16 rolls.
"Essentials of Baking"
Click here for the Wood Prairie Grains Page
New England Farmers Union
Join New England Farmers Union -
Get FREE Seed Potatoes

   New England Farmers Union will have a booth at this year's MOFGA Common Ground Country Fair.  If you sign up to become an NEFU member during the Fair you'll receive a FREE gift of a bag of Wood Prairie Farm Organic Seed Potatoes.
   NEFU is the grass roots organization with membership - driven policy that works to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life of family farmers,   fishermen, foresters and consumers throughout New England.  Founded in 2006,  NEFU is the youngest charter member of the NFU (National Farmers Union), the 108- year-old advocacy organization
based in Washington, D.C..  All family farmers, gardeners and consumers are urged to join NEFU.  
   Jim serves on the NEFU Board of Advisors and believes that the progressive policies of NEFU / NFU can help bring about change desperately needed in American agriculture to keep family farmers on the land.  Jim will help staff the NEFU booth at CGCF on Sunday Sept. 26.  Please stop by, join up and say "Hi".  
   Click here to learn more about  NEFU.
Farmers File Another Lawsuit to Stop USDA & Monsanto's Roundup Ready Sugar Beets
Last week Organic Seed Alliance, Center for Food Safety, and Earth Justice filed another suit in Federal District Court challenging USDA APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) in their brazen attempt to issue permits allowing the immediate planting of a GMO sugar beet seed crop.  The APHIS move outrageously ignores a court decision less than one month old that made GMO sugar beet planting illegal.  Earth Justice attourney Paul Achitoff commented "APHIS's issueance of these permits blatantly violates well established law and flouts the Court's recent rulings.  It has become Monsanto's puppet."      Click here to read the story on the CFS website.
  Click here for a good background article from the Atlantic.
Question and Answer : Feeling Taters
Quick questions:  We planted mid-June, should I be able to feel something in the ground now? And if so, how deep?  And should I soak the beds before feeling around?  The vines look good, they got a little burnt after attempting foliar feeding but are on the rebound with newer greener growth.
Surf City NJ

Yes by now you should be able to just gently dig into the hill 3-5 inches down and feel around for the developing tubers.  If you are careful and re-cover up the hill, the tubers will not get separated from the stolons and will keep growing and will keep sizing up.  In fact this tuber peeking is also a practical way for enjoying new potatoes. Rather than dig up the whole hill, carefully dig into the hill and harvest the tubers large enough for your need and let the smaller ones continue to grow.  For this extra effort you'll get a bigger yield.  Jim

Click here for the Wood Prairie Home Page
Action Alert - Senate Food Safety Vote Imminent - Call Senators Today!
 The Senate may vote as early as today on monumental Food Safety legislation.  Support is needed for several amendments that will mitigate serious harm to family farmers.  Call your Senators today!
  Click here for details from OFRF.

It's easy to call 

Go to Congress.org and type in your zip code.  Click on your Senator's name, and then on the contact tab for their phone number. You can also call the Capitol Switchboard and ask to be directly connected to your Senator's office: 202-224-3121.  Once connected ask to speak to the legislative staff person responsible for agriculture.  If they are unavailable leave a voice mail message.  Be sure to include your name and phone number. 

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