Wood Prairie Farm                                                                                                                            In This Issue of The Seed Piece: 
 Seed Piece Newsletter                                                                                             Maine Tales: How We Used to Dig.
Organic News and Commentary
                                                                                          News On Organic Lawsuit Against Monsanto.
   Friday, September 23, 2011                                                                                                                            Recipe: Tender Roasted Beets.                                                                                                                                                                  Special Offer: FREE Organic Kitchen Onions.
                                                                                                                                                                                     Our Mailbox: Not Bad & Not Good.

Following Tradition. 
Twelve-years-olds picking another Aroostook county potato crop on Wood Prairie Farm.

Maine Tales.                                         How We Used to Dig.                                Bridgewater, Maine.  Circa 2007.

     Until we imported a modest family-scale Juko potato harvester from Finland three years ago, the above scene is a pretty good depiction of how we used to dig our potato crop.  The ‘digger’ technology hadn’t changed dramatically in over 100 years.  The mechanical digger (John Deere 30 long bed) dug up the hill composed of dirt, potatoes and rocks and shook the loose dirt through the ‘digger lags’ – a conveyer belt made of hook chain metal rods with designed gaps for the soil to drop through. The potatoes and rocks floated on top of the lags and were deposited gently on the soil’s surface to be then collected up by hand ‘pickers’. Modern diggers are now pulled and powered by tractor.  Prior to tractors, a digger would be pulled by a team of horses. Early digger models were powered by ground drive: the rotating steel digger wheels also turned the lag bed. Later on, mounted gasoline engines were employed to power the lag bed.  This big improvement divorced ground travel speed from lag bed speed – a real boon in wet Falls when a farmer wanted the lag bed to shake vigorously and fast so that the wet dirt would drop down through the lags. 
     Pickers picked into ash baskets (nowadays buckets). In the 1990s we switched over from carting the potatoes out of the field in traditional 11-peck cedar potato barrels (which hold 165 pounds of potatoes) to using four foot by four foot hardwood pallet boxes which hold and store a ton of potatoes. Northern Maine is one of the last areas in the country where schools are still closed for three weeks of Harvest Break. Our pickers were the 12 and 13 year olds who were too young to work on mechanized operations. We were usually their first job outside home. They were paid by the piece, had fun working hard and learned the work ethic for which Aroostook County is legend.
     Now another Fall is upon us. We’re immersed in another potato harvest. Want to learn more about the Potato Culture of Aroostook County?  Click here to read Jim’s presentation  presented in 2006 at the Slow Food Terra Madre conference in Turin, Italy.

Jim & Megan


News On Organic Lawsuit Against Monsanto

      Our lawsuit, known as OSGATA et al vs. Monsanto, in which the organic community is challenging Monsanto’s transgenic (GMO) patents, is awaiting airing of the final arguments on Monsanto’s motion to dismiss.  We have amassed a plaintiff group of 83, comprised of individual family farmers, independent seed companies and agricultural organizations.  The total number of members among the co-plaintiffs within our plaintiff group exceeds 270,000 and that includes several thousand certified organic farmers.
  Our legal team has presented to Federal District Court Judge Buchwald in Manhatten a compelling legal brief explaining why we deserve our day in court and why Monsanto must be made to answer for their misuse of patents. Two lawyers in Texas, representing twelve interested parties, has filed a brilliant amicii brief on our behalf, urging that the case go forward.  Read that update with pertinent links to the briefs here.
  In order to educate the public on our case, we have prepared a concise summary, in layman’s terms, of the legal arguments that we will employ in arguing our case before the court. This summary follows below, as well as does a complete list of our co-plaintiffs in this landmark and unprecedented challenge of Monsanto’s transgenic patents.  For a PDF of two documents, please click here. 
  Please help spread the word.  We are engaging in this fight on your behalf in order to assure that your right to freedom of choice and access to real food not be extinguished. Thanks. Jim



The Lawsuit Challenging Patents on Transgenic Seed



Monsanto’s transgenic seed patents are INVALID

because they fail to fulfill basic requirements needed to obtain a patent.

The patents fail to meet the UTILITY REQUIREMENT of the U.S. Patent Act

because transgenic seed is not socially useful.

In addition, Monsanto seeds INCREASE the use of herbicides.

(This is the historical record.)

Monsanto seeds DO NOT INCREASE yield

as a study by the Union of Concerned Scientists has shown.

Monsanto seeds INCREASE costs to farmers

in multiple ways; they are at best only a short-term way to lower costs.

Monsanto seeds have been linked to a variety of human and animal illnesses.

(Studies in several nations have shown this.)


Monsanto’s transgenic seed patents CAN NOT BE INFRINGED by plaintiffs under established court rulings needing to be more widely recognized above the conventionally-utilized “strict liability” standard.

If they were, organic farmers would not be held to have infringed patents on Monsanto’s seeds when their farms become contaminated through no fault of their own.


Monsanto’s transgenic seed patents should be understood to be UNENFORCEABLE under established court doctrine.

Monsanto has MISUSED its patents on transgenic seed to achieve and maintain

anti-competitive and monopoly benefit.

Over 85% of all corn, soybeans, sugar beets, cotton and canola grown in the U.S.A. contain Monsanto-patented genes.

This has diminished consumer choice and slowed innovation.



Any contamination of the plaintiff’s land by Monsanto’s seeds represents a trespass which wrongfully interferes with the plaintiff’s rights to possess, enjoy, and use their property.


Monsanto should NOT BE ENTITLED TO ANY REMEDY against contaminated plaintiffs under the established legal doctrine being asserted.

Monsanto suffers no loss or damages if Monsanto seeds contaminate an organic or other nontransgenic farmer’s property; it is the farmer who is harmed.

Monsanto should have no right to shut down or assume rights to a farm contaminated by its seed, pollen, and genes.


33 Farms and Individual Farmers:

Alba Ranch (Kansas); Wild Plum Farm (Montana); Gratitude Gardens (Washington);

Richard Everett Farm, LLC (Nebraska); Philadelphia Community Farm, Inc (Wisconsin);

Genesis Farm (New Jersey); Chispas Farms LLC (New Mexico);

Kirschenmann Family Farms Inc. (North Dakota); Midheaven Farms (Minnesota);

Koskan Farms (South Dakota); California Cloverleaf Farms (California);

North Outback Farm (North Dakota); Taylor Farms, Inc. (Utah);

Jardin del Alma (New Mexico); Ron Gargasz Organic Farms (Pennsylvania);

Abundant Acres (Missouri); T & D Willey Farms (California); Full Moon Farm, Inc. (Vermont);

Common Good Farm, LLC (Nebraska); American Buffalo Company (Nebraska);

Radiance Dairy (Iowa) ; Quinella Ranch (Saskatchewan); Nature’s Way Farm Ltd. (Alberta);

Levke and Peter Eggers Farm (Alberta); Frey Vineyards, Ltd.(California);

Bryce Stephens (Kansas); Chuck Noble (South Dakota); LaRhea Pepper (Texas);

Paul Romero (New Mexico); Brian Wickert (Wisconsin); Bruce Drinkman (Wisconsin);

Murray Bast (Ontario); and, Donald Wright Patterson, Jr. (Virginia)


14 Seed Businesses and Companies:

FEDCO Seeds Inc. (Maine); Adaptive Seeds, LLC (Oregon); Sow True Seed (North Carolina);

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (Virginia); Mumm's Sprouting Seeds (Saskatchewan);

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co., LLC (Missouri);Comstock, Ferre & Co., LLC (Connecticut);

Seedkeepers, LLC (California); Siskiyou Seeds (Oregon); Countryside Organics (Virginia);

Wild Garden Seed (Oregon); Cuatro Puertas (New Mexico); Seed We Need (Montana);

and, Interlake Forage Seeds Ltd. (Manitoba).


36 Agricultural Organizations:

(with hundreds of thousands of total members)

Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA);

Organic Crop Improvement Association International, Inc. (OCIA);

OCIA Research and Education Inc.;

The Cornucopia Institute;

Demeter Association, Inc.;

Center for Food Safety;

Beyond Pesticides;

Navdanya International;

Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association;

Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York;

Northeast Organic Farming Association/Massachusetts Chapter;

Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Hampshire;

Northeast Organic Farming Association of Rhode Island;

Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut;

Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont;

Rural Vermont;

Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association;

Florida Certified Organic Growers and Consumers Inc.;

Southeast Iowa Organic Association;

Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society;

Mendocino Organic Network (California);

Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance;

Midwest Organic Dairy Producers Alliance;

Western Organic Dairy Producers Alliance;

Canadian Organic Growers;

Manitoba Organic Alliance;

Peace River Organic Producers Association (Alberta and British Columbia);

Union Paysanne (Quebec);

Family Farmer Seed Cooperative;

Sustainable Living Systems (Montana);

Global Organic Alliance;

Food Democracy Now!;

Family Farm Defenders Inc.;

Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund;

Weston A. Price Foundation;

The Michael Fields Agricultural Institute

Simple Roasted Beets
Photo by Megan Gerritsen

Recipe: Tender Roasted Beets

     Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut beets into wedges if large, or in half or quarters if small. Arrange in an ovenproof casserole dish. Dot the beets with 1 to 2 Tablespoons butter or drizzle with 1 to 2 Tablespoons olive oil. Cover the ovenproof dish with a cover or with foil if you don't have a cover. Bake at 400 for 50 to 60 minutes until tender. I like to put my baking potatoes in the oven at the same time, as they cook at the same temperature and take the same amount of time.

Serve with salt and apple cider vinegar, or I like it with Ranch Salad Dressing as a dip.


Click here for our Wood Prairie Organic Vegetables

Special Offer. FREE Organic Kitchen Onions

     One recent afternoon we finished digging potatoes in the back Seed field out beyond the brook. So next we turned our attention to harvesting our beautiful onion crop. This summer we did our best job ever keeping the weeds at bay.  That in combination with the steady rains we received all summer long made for our prettiest and biggest onion crop ever.
     Now we’d like to share our organic onion abundance with you.  Earn a FREE 2 pound bag of fresh Wood Prairie Organic Onions ($11.95 value) for your kitchen – your choice of red Rossa di Milano or delicious Dutch Yellow – with your next purchase of $35 or more.
     Please use Promo Code WPF1104. FREE Wood Prairie Onions must ship with your order and order must ship by 12/7/11. Offer may not be combined with other specials. Offer ends Wedneday September 28, 2011.
     So hurry. Please call or click today!

Click here for our Wood prairie Farm Fresh Organic Vegetables section.

Dutch Yellow Onion.

Our Mailbox: Not Bad & Not Good.

Dear WPF.

I wrote you last year about a mold or fungus problem I had with my potatoes and your suspicion that the soil was a bit too wet was spot on. I moved the plants to the other side of this garden plot, higher in elevation by about 12 inches, and kept layering in compost giving the plants about 16-20" of depth for root systems. From 4 x 1 lb seed potato varieties, I harvested (yesterday) 118 lbs of potatoes.

Red Cloud: 42
Prairie Blush: 24
Cranberry Red: 32
Caribe: 20

Two potatoes fell victim to a raccoon (fixed him by harvesting the next day - hope he's hungry) and three Red Clouds had a rot from the root end, that's all. Additionally, only 2 eyes didn't take.

Not bad?

Union Pier, MI

WPF Replies.

No, not bad at all. That's almost a 30x increase. That's a lot of food to feed your family from a small amount of land and small amount of investment. Good job! Jim.

Dear WPF.     

I am looking for 25 lbs of organic Canola Seed. Do you have any idea as to where I might find this almost extinct product?

Sandy Hook, CT

WPF Replies.     

     The farmers that I know who used to grow organic Canola in the USA and Canada have given up because of tremendous contamination pressure from transgenic/GMO Canola. The pollen from Canola is extremely mobile and travels long distances. Their ability to produce bonafide organic Canola free of transgenic content has been severely compromised and these farmers are fearful of being sued by Monsanto for patent infringement claims. Some of them are co-plaintiffs in our lawsuit against Monsanto.
     I think you better look to Europe for authentic organic canola seed. Good luck.

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