Wood Prairie Farm Seed Piece Newsletter
September 2007


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Our Newsletter is back from its summer vacation.
It's that time of year again when the days are noticably shorter and we get fall frosts during the cool nights. The potato fields have turned from lush summer green to brown. Once the potato tops have died back, the tubers stop growing, develop thicker skins and are ready for the annual harvest. As in years past, we will be relying on local kids to help get our crops in. Continuing a tradition that has occurred since the end of World War II they'll be on a three week harvest break from school to provide the extra work pool that the farmers in this area depend on for fall harvest.

The Aroostook County potato harvest is also a time when we work "right out straight" (see Maine Speak at the end of this newsletter for an explanation of 'right out straight' ) working literally from dark to dark. It's a family affair as the boys are old enough to run equipment and load the potatoes into the potato cellar while our younger daughters are out in the field helping to pick the potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onions and beets.

While we are focused on the upcoming harvest season, our garden is still producing a bounty for our family. That includes a pile of zucchini and we've come up with a wonderful recipe for Wood Prairie Farm rolled oats and zucchini muffins. They are quick and tasty, utilizing our own freshly milled grains.

This September issue kicks off with a speech by a remarkable woman who has dedicated her life to retaining the public ownership of all seeds, Dr. Vandana Shiva. Dr. Shiva was a featured speaker at the closing session of Slow Food's Terra Madre gathering in Turin, Italy, last October. Many of you may know of her: physicist, ecologist, activist, editor, and author of many books. This month's 'Conversations With...' section provides portions of her speech. May it inspire you and help you realize the role you play in bio-diversity and sustainable agriculture.

Thanks for all the wonderful notes and letters, photos and stories you've sent in to us over the summer. We're humbled and happy to be a part of the rewarding activities in your family's life. Keep them coming!..."
- Jim and Megan


  September Potato of the Month...REDDALE
Looking out at a field of Reddale potatoes in bloom is something to see with their bright and beautiful dark pink blossoms against a green background. Those blossoms are a taste of the beautiful red potato growing in the soil underneath. Proud member of the family of "moist" potatoes, Reddale is a large red potato with white flesh. Great boiled or in soups as its creamy flesh holds together or refried as colorful homefries.


Q. and A.  Hairy Leaves, Growth Cracks, and Hollow Heart
Q: Hello there...Just wanted to check in with you about the success of our potato crop this year.

We ordered some Redale's and some King Harry's. It has been amazing that we have had absolutely no Colorado Potato Beetles, and I expected that on the King Harry's but apparently the King Harry kept the bugs off the Reddale and some Green Mountains which were planted on either side of them as well. Also I had no Mexican Bean Beetles or cucumber beetles...can that be related to the King Harry's as well? I wondered if the KH's emitted some kind of a deterrent as well as having hairy leaves. Anyway, it's been a pretty amazing year to be practically bugless. (Wish they had affected the darn squash bugs, but we had plenty of them!)

Now about the Reddale's...we have dug only three hills, and it was amazing to find two which will be big enough for my husband and I to share, just huge potaoes! But several others were split and we wondered if that might be because they needed rain or have we waited too long to dig them? We use no fertilizer, just lots of organic material from our herd of Nubian dairy goats. Any thoughts on that? Whatever, we will still be able to eat them but they just don't look pretty.

We will certainly be ordering from you again this next year, but because every year of gardening is a learning expereince, we just wanted to see how you would answer the questions we have about this years' crop.

Thanks for any advice you can give us. Sincerely, M M, North Springfield, VT

A: Hi M: Conventional wisdom would hold that the repellent effect of the hairy leaves of King Harry would be limited to the King Harry itself. However, your experience indicates something else may be at work. Realizing the danger of anthropomorphizing the CPB, maybe they got discouraged enough at trying to feed that they gave up and headed to greener pastures.

The cracks on the Reddale are called growth cracks. While not a disease, growth cracks affect many varieties (and a weakness of Reddale) and is worst in a wet year or when rain follows dryness especially during the end of tuber bulking. They are cosmetic in nature and won't affect keeping qualities.

Growth cracks are often accompanied by "Hollow Heart" which is a empty cavity in the tuber's center. Another manifestation of hyper growth under conditions of almost excessive moisture and fertility. Tends to occur on Reddale tubers that are over 3.5" diameter.

Remedy for both growth cracks and hollow heart are the same: keep the spacing down between the plants to slow tuber growth, harvest before they get too large, and make sure Boron and Calcium levels are adequate.
Thanks for writing. - Jim


The Potato Bin
According to IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements)there are 76.6 million acres under cerified organic production worldwide. The world's leader is Argentina with 7.6 million acres, followed by China with 5.2 million acres. The United States at 988,000 acres has one of the highest rates of growth in terms of new organic acres coming into production. Worldwide sales of organic products reached $34.3 billion in 2005 with most of those sales occuring in North America and Europe. Sales for 2006 are yet to be calculated but are expected to reach $40 billion.

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North Dakota leads the USA in the production of certified organic grains with 105,000 acres, followed by California with 86,000 acres of grains.
Meanwhile, US farmers grew a total of 6581 acres of certified organic potatoes in 2005. California led the way with 3451 acres of organic potatoes or 52% of the total US crop. Organic potatoes also represent 8% of California's total potato crop of 42,900 acres. After California, the top states for certified organic potato production were Colorado (953 acres), Washington (673 acres), Oregon (645 acres), North Dakota (190 acres), and Maine (160 acres).
Maine continues to grow and lead the nation with 20% of its dairy farmers producing certified organic milk. Additionally, over 5% of all famers in Maine are now certified organic, and 5% of all farmland in Maine is in certified organic production. (Spudman April 2007, Minot Daily News Sept 11, 2007)

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Compared to 50 years ago, farmers today get three times the yield of grains, fruits, and vegetables. But according to a recent report the tradeoff is that the modern crops are nutritionally inferior. The report explains that conventional farming methods such as close plant spacing and use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides often cause crops to absorb fewer nutrients, have unhealthy root systems and less flavor. On the other hand, organic farming systems which use manure and cover crops (as we do on Wood Prairie Farm)to provide crop nutrition have more balanced mixtures of nutrients. The report concludes that organic food may have as much as 20% higher nutritional content for some minerals, and 30% more antioxidants than conventional food. Find the report on https://www.worldwatch.org/node/5339

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The Mailorder Gardening Association has awarded Wood Prairie Farm a Green Thumb Award for its new introduction "King Harry" organic potatoes. King Harry is an early season round white potato noted for its revolutionary ability to naturally repel insect pests due to its "hairy" leaves. Working with the skilled traditional potato breeders at Cornell University, Wood Prairie Farm trialed King Harry for four years and documented superior results. King Harry displays improved taste, appearance and production qualities.

This year's MGA Green Thumb Award for King Harry marks the third year in a row that Wood Prairie Farm has been awarded a Green Thumb Award, the industry's highest honor from the oldest mailorder gardening assocation in the world.

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The Maine Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) recently ruled in favor of allowing corn that has been genetically engineered to produce the toxin Bacillus thuringiensis, Bt to be grown. Despite an overwhelming public opposition to the allowance of Bt corn, the BPC voted to register seven genetically engineered field corn products from three companies, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Dow AgroSciences and Monsanto. Now public input is helping regulators establish rules governing Bt corn use in Maine. Email me if you'd like to read a copy of my letter to Maine's Bureau of Pest Controls. jim@woodprairie.com.
Source: The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener, Autumn 2007

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For the past three years Greenpeace has investigated the failure of the Romanian goverment to ensure the control and tracability of GMO soybean produced by Monsanto. Romania joined the European Union (EU)on January 1, 2007. All GMO crops are illegal in the EU, with the exception of one recently permitted GMO corn (MON810), although many EU member states also ban MON810. Greenpeace describes a situation of illegal GMO crops out of control in Romania by citing these allegations: cultivation of illegal GMO crops including massive acreages of GMO soybean, and illegal experiments with GMO corn, GMO potatoes, GMO plum trees; a black market of GMO seeds; GMO contamination within processing plants and illegal GMO food products on the market. Greenpeace charcterizes the Romanian government as unmotivated in dealing with the problem and is pressuring the EU to act to correct the situation. For the full story go to https://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=46758.

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Fall is a beautiful time to visit Aroostook County. Fall foliage will be at its peak this month. Wood Prairie Farm and the other potato and brocolli farms will be in full Harvest mode. School lets out September 21 and the dust will be flying for 3 weeks.

Looking for a place to stay? Here are some good leads.
Blaine Country Cabins https://www.blainecountrycabins.com 207-429-8017.
Magic Pond is run by Linda Griffith. She has a number of guest suites and can be reached on her cell phone (215)287-4174.


Recipe:  Zucchini Oatmeal Muffins
Make these with Wood Prairie Farm certified organic rolled oats and wheat flour for nutritious, fresh muffins. Megan

1 1/2 c all- purpose flour
1 c Wood Prairie Farm whole wheat flour
1/2 c Wood Prairie Farm rolled oats
1 1/2 c sugar
1 T baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 c walnuts (optional)
4 eggs
1 medium zucchini, grated
3/4 c vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin tin.

In large bowl, mix first 7 ingredients. In medium bowl, beat eggs slightly; stir in zucchini and oil. Stir egg mixture into flour just until flour is moistened.

Spoon batter into muffin pan.Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden and toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.


  Conversations With...Vandana Shiva Speaking at Terra Madre
Dr. Vandana Shiva is a world-renowned scientist and environmentalist. She is the author of several books and the founder of Navdanya in India, an organization that protects biodiversity, defends farmers' rights and promotes organic farming. Navdanya means the nine crops that represent India's collective source of food security.

The following is Dr. Shiva's speech at Terra Madre's closing plenary session. Vandana is a very moving speaker and if you've never had the chance to hear her it is worth the effort listen to her speech on your computer on the Slow Food - Terra Madre website at https://multimedia.slowfood.it/index.php?pag=2&method=section&id=2117.

Fellow earth citizens, children of Terra Madre, my loving greetings. And to the city of Turin, its Mayor, the region of Piedmonte, its president, the Italian public, its leaders, thank you for hosting citizens of the earth republic. I am sure all of you feel like I do - that we are creating another world. A world beyond the Washington consensus or should we call it the Washington fiction? The fiction that imagines that three trillion dollars of fictitious money moving around the world is the real wealth. The fiction that assumes that creating war undemocratically is democracy. In India we deeply believe that this amazing universe and this amazing planet and this amazing earth is connected through the web of food, the web of life. Food. Everything is food and everything is someone else’s food. That’s what connects us. We are food, we eat food, we are made of food and our first identity, our first health, our first wealth comes from the making, creating, giving of good food. In fact, we have a saying that if you give bad food you sin. The highest karma is the producing of food in abundance and the giving of good food in generosity.

I also believe Terra Madre is the birth of a new freedom movement on a universal scale. Where, as we were just told, nothing should be more than human life. The reason we are creating food freedom is because we are being pushed into and in many places living in, a food fascism. Food has become the place for fascism to act. From the seed, where seed is being patented and being turned into the monopoly property of a handful of corporations. 95% of genetically modified seeds are controlled by one corporation, Monsanto, which then uses the fictitious democracy that created a World Trade Organization, the financial conditionalities of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to force us to give up our seed freedoms, to give up our bio-diversity, the richness of our resources and to reduce us to bio-diversity serfs. In India, as the new genetically modified seeds have been sold and moved in the areas where the corporations have started to control the seed supply, hundreds of thousands of farmers have become indebted and ended their lives with suicide; 140,000 was our last count. The profits of Monsanto are becoming a value higher than human life and we have to change that.

But it is not just in the seed, it is in the methods of production where there is fascism. You cannot NOT use genetically modified seeds. Europe made the choice to be GMO free and the World Trade Organization was used to tell Europe, “You will have to grow and eat this rot.” But WTO itself is dying. It’s in intensive care as we know it. Russia has just said it won’t join. I think this moment of WTO in intensive care needs to be used by us. To tell that fictitious world capital: Your immoral rule is over. And whether it is farmers being prevented from growing their seed, distributing their seed – you know I was told by a farmer from Germany that a potato seed called Linda is being banned, just because companies can’t make profits out of it anymore. Instruments of seed registration, licensing, seed replacement, patenting - all kinds of new rules of fascism.

And on food safety, avian flu is identified with wild birds and free-range birds when that is not where it started. They were the victims of a disease that started from factory farms. And yet, around the world we have these people in these moon suits going out in women’s backyards and grabbing chickens to kill them. That is another element of food fascism. Where there is a fear of the small, decentralized, the local, the free. In fact I would say that fascism is about fear of freedom and we are about love for freedom – passionate, deep, uncompromising love for freedom. The self-organized freedom that Carlo was talking about.

Today Brazil has become the biggest producer of genetically engineered soyabean and I think one thing we need to tell President Lula is: stop the destruction of the Amazon and stop converting your country into the cutting edge of food patenting.

What we have been building in Terra Madre is unique. It’s unique because it is the defense of the local true global alliance. It’s the defense of diversity through a coming together. I think one of the self-organized contributions that has propelled some of this process has come from the International Commission on the Future of Food and I want to thank my co-president Claudio Martini, the president of the region of Tuscany, which took the initiative to launch this commission 4 years ago. It was through the discussions of the Commission, of which Carlo is a member, that we realized that if the next step of food freedom has to be built then eaters of food and producers of food, ecological movements and movements of gastronomy have to come together and that is how the idea of Terra Madre as a sister event of the Salone del Gusto came to be. Terra Madre is the way we empower ourselves, go back with new ideas, and the Commission’s new report, New Manifesto on the Future of Seeds, is, I believe, the Manifesto of Terra Madre. I want to share with you its principles. I hope you will all join this movement for seed freedom and food freedom and make this your own.

The co-principles of the earth are the fact that Terra Madre does not discriminate between a desert and a wetland, a mountain and river valleys. Every place is a hospitable place. Every plant is a useful plant. Every producer is a creative producer. And it is that diversity we celebrate in the Manifesto and the future of food. The diversity of seed, of agricultural systems, and of producer / consumer relationships so we all aren’t driven into one Wal Mart model of shopping in ‘prisons’ as we grow food in ‘prisons’. Diversity of our cultures, diversity of innovation of knowledge.

Terra Madre is also the source of freedom and I think that is what is so beautiful about Terra Madre as an event because instead of laws being written behind closed doors by three corporations sitting with three governments and telling the world that from now onward seeds will be the intellectual property of Monsanto, trade related intellectual property rights agreements will govern the world. Here, in openness and dialogue we create another law of the seed based on freedom. Freedom of the seed, freedom of the farmers to save seed, freedom of farmers to breed new varieties, freedom from privatization, patenting, and bio-piracy. Freedom of farmers to exchange and trade seeds because seed is common, because seed is meant to be exchanged, meant to be shared, freedom of access to open-source seed. Seed that can be reproduced and regenerated. Freedom from genetic contamination and GMO’s which means GMO-free zones in agriculture at regional levels, national levels, earth level. That’s where we need to move. But the most important freedom of seed is to reproduce. That is what seed means. Seed means the embodiment of the future, the unfolding of life. The potential to keep reproducing. And yet there are new technologies, like the Terminator technology, like hybrid seeds, designed to prevent the seed from giving rights to seed. So the freedom of seed to reproduce means we will not accept Terminator seeds and sterile seeds which cannot grow out. The seeds of slavery have been bred for responding to chemicals. They have been bred for dealing with giant machines needing huge amounts of oil. They have been bred for corporate profits. The future breeding of seeds by the food communities gathered here and the scientists gathered here and those in places where we will work with them, that breeding will be done through participation, through women because women are the bearers of the alternative and the keepers of seed. That breeding will be done to elimate toxic inputs, to eliminate dependence on fossil fuels and production of greenhouse gases. It will be breeding, not for uniformity and monocultures but breeding for diversity and most importantly, it is breeding for freedom because that is what we are sowing, the seeds of freedom.

I hope all of you will join this manifesto. Will you? This is not the end of this Terra Madre, it is the beginning of the new freedom revolution. Thank you.