Prairie Farm Seed Piece Newsletter
ANNUAL AROOSTOOK COUNTY POTATO HARVEST
* * * * *
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
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
- Jim and Megan
CLICK HERE TO GO TO WOOD PRAIRIE FARM'S HOME PAGE
September Potato of the Month...REDDALE
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.
CLICK HERE TO READ INFORMATION ON WOOD PRAIRIE'S OTHER SEED VARIETIES
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
Thanks for any advice you can give us. Sincerely, M M, North
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
FOR MORE SEED RELATED QUESTIONS, CLICK HERE
*ORGANIC GROWS WORLDWIDE
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.
* * * * *
*ORGANIC IN THE USA
North Dakota leads the USA in the production of certified organic
grains with 105,000 acres, followed by California with 86,000 acres of
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)
* * * * *
*GOOD NUTRITION TRADED FOR HIGH YIELDS
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 http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5339
* * * * *
*WOOD PRAIRIE FARM AWARDED GREEN THUMB AWARD FOR KING HARRY
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.
* * * * *
*MAINE BECOMES LAST STATE TO ALLOW PLANTING OF Bt CORN
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. email@example.com.
Source: The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener, Autumn 2007
* * * * *
*ILLEGAL GMO CROPS OUT OF CONTROL IN ROMANIA
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 http://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=46758.
* * * * *
*FALL IN THE COUNTY
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 http://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.
CLICK HERE FOR THE WOOD PRAIRIE FARM WEBSITE
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)
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.
FOR MORE RECIPES, CLICK HERE
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
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
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
WTO itself is dying. It’s in intensive care as we know it.
just said it won’t join. I think this moment of WTO in
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
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
because it is the defense of the local true global alliance.
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
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
‘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
GMO-free zones in agriculture at regional levels, national levels,
earth level. That’s where we need to move. But the most
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.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE NAVDANYA ORGANIZATION, CLICK HERE