Wood Prairie Farm
 The Seed Piece Newsletter
             Organic News and Commentary
                  Friday February 21, 2014

 In This Issue of The Seed Piece:

    Snow Day & Night.

 Maine Tales.      Packing Trail on the Old Bank Farm Road.        Township D, Range 2, Maine           Circa 2014.

     Deep snow and heavy rain can be one destructive combination. The East’s winter build up of snow and cold has extended to Northern Maine and beyond. This week school was closed for ‘Tournament Week,’ a particularly apt local expression for a Maine obsession which signifies Mainers universal fixation on high school basketball.  Maine has always parted ways from the other 49 states’ celebration of long gone Presidents.  Our son, Caleb, in a week reprieve from Diesel-Hydraulic-centric classes at the local community college, was snow shovel crew boss. 

Disrobing Drifted Valleys.

    Caleb drafted sisters Sarah and Amy and his able friend and Wood Prairie all-star co-worker and college chum, Justin, to attack and disrobe the drifted roof valleys.  Every roof had two-to three feet of built up heavy snow.  In places, there were drifts approaching five feet.  The forecast has been calling all week for the possibility of rain today.  Piled snow which soaks up rain like a sponge can increase roof weight to unbearable and catastrophic extremes.

   Our tired crew finished their snow shedding roof work last evening.  Soon after, we learned of a tragic Massachusetts barnful of Jersey cows trapped inside when the snow-laden roof sighed, buckled and collapsed the barn down upon them, killing some and injuring many of the survivors.

Grooming Winter’s Snow.

   Notably, it is the energy and drive of youth which is admirable and seemingly limitless.  One night this week between long days on roof snow removal, Caleb and Justin traded shovels for a real sit down job.  It was their turn to work as volunteers and run the local Mars Hill Snowmobile Club’s snow machine and groom snow sled trails associated with the main trail known as ITS 83.  To avoid snow sled collision and congestion this grooming work is done at night.  This week, Jim started out with Caleb at the Mars Hill shed around 630pm and filmed their grooming procedure.  You will find the result in today’s Snow Grooming You Tube video (2:43).

   Justin, a hardworking young man in his early twenties and a Registered Maine Guide for years, ‘spelled’ Jim and they swapped places at the point where the old railroad bed crosses Bootfoot Road three miles east of Wood Prairie Farm.  When there are no mishaps the boy’s work takes around seven or eight hours.  Traveling around 7 MPH they clock in over 40 miles a night.  This week after grooming they got to bed at 330am.  Four hours later they were up and ready for another day of snow shoveling.

Old Bank Farm Road Detour.

   Due to logging in the immediate area this winter, a four mile stretch of the former rail bed ‘roadway’ is closed to snow sleds and instead reserved for exclusive use by logging trucks. This dilemma has required invention of an imaginative, somewhat crude 17 mile snow sled detour which lies about three miles west of our farm - halfway towards Number Nine Mountain – utilizing logging roads and connecting up the overgrown old Bank Farm Road with the ‘new’ Hannington Road.  Look on Map 59 of your Maine Delorme Atlas and this may begin to make sense.

    The boy’s grooming responsibility extends south from Mars Hill to the north side of the old railroad trestle on the Meduxnekaeg River in Monticello.  Midway at Harvey Siding, they must groom an almost nine mile leg of the detour northwest up the old Bank Farm Road as far as Three Mile Hill.  From there, other snow groomers from further north take over responsibility for trail grooming and on up towards Presque Isle.

A Bump in the Night.

   Now last week, grooming didn’t go quite as smoothly.  It was around midnight and Caleb was taking his turn to drive the snow machine.  Justin was sitting in the padded “Buddy seat” cleverly built into the left side door. Everything was going well as they headed northwest at 6 MPH going deeper into the North Maine woods on the crude Bank Farm Road.

    Then, suddenly, the groomer snagged a hidden and buried stump not far enough off the edge of the trail. Instantly, the groomer stopped.  However, the heavily-gripped tracked snow machine wanted to keep going.  In the few seconds it took Caleb to react and push in the clutch the now chained powerful snow machine bucked up and down like a rodeo bronco. In one of those seconds, Justin was jolted upwards towards near Earth orbit.  Unfortunately, at that same split second, the snow machine was descending under the force of gravity from its most recent lunge upward.  It wasn’t clear exactly what Justin’s wool capped head had hit, but the blood that began flowing down his forehead was a pretty good indication it was something harder than Justin’s head.  Once the boys took a deep breath and regained their bearings, being resourceful Mainers, they went into action.  They got the groomer unstuck from the stump and then set to driving deeper into the woods to a spot where they could turn the huge machine around and head back towards civilization and help.

Cell Phone Rendezvous.

   In the meantime, their cell phone allowed them to wake up Justin’s girlfriend, Chelsea, another longtime Wood Prairie co-worker.  Chelsea woke up her sister Michelle, yet another Wood Prairie lifer, and following instruction, on that cold winter’s night they drove across town from their home by the Canadian border to the appointed meet where the Bank Farm Road takes off north from the snow-plowed logging road near Harvey Siding.

   It wasn’t long before Justin was patched up with five staples and a shaved head at the Houlton Hospital emergency room. In the meantime, Caleb made his way smartly and solo back to the shed in Mars Hill by ‘panning’ shallow and packing the trail.  Both Justin and Caleb’s nights had ended around 230am.  When this week’s grooming slot rolled around, there was no question from any quarter as to where those two boys would be.

 Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
 Wood Prairie Farm
 Bridgewater, Maine

Click here for the Wood Prairie Farm Home Page.

Organic Farmer Don Bustos. From New Mexico.
(Photo Credit: Washington Post)

Pioneer Organic Farmers.
     Maine writer and family farmer Barbara Damrosch delivers her excellent report in the Washington Post  which describes January’s ‘Agrarian Elders Gathering’ in Big Sur, California.  Many of the farmers who attended the first-time event are highlighted and there are accompanying web links to their farms.

     “It was an organic summit of ‘agrarian elders’ convened by farmers Michael Abelman and Eliot Coleman, the latter of whom is my husband. And I got to be a fly on the wall.”


Don't Miss the New "Organic Matters" Film.

    This beautiful and inspiring new short film (9:45) set in picturesque hilly Vermont explains why certified organic food should be everyone’s first choice.  We think you will want to pour a cup of tea and then sit back and enjoy “Organic Matters” unveiled at the recent NOFA Vermont Winter Conference.

     The film explains what motivates certified organic farmers to grow the very best food and how certified organic is your family's best assurance of authentic healthy food – that which exhibits real value.  After watching the film your family may also want to move to Vermont.

Jim & Megan

Click Here for our Certified Organic Wood Prairie Farm Organic Kitchen Potatoes.

VT Senator Dave Zuckerman (Right) in Film. Organic Farmer and Plaintiff in OSGATA et al v. Monsanto lawsuit.
Notable Quotes: Mark Twain on Lies.

Potato and Celery Root Gratin.
Photo by Angela Wotton
Recipe: Potato and Celery Root Gratin

1 1/4 c heavy cream

1/4 c whole milk

1 small onion, halved

2 large garlic cloves, smashed

Butter, for greasing baking dish and foil

1lb celery root, peeled and halved

1 1/2lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 ounces aged Gouda cheese, grated

Bring the heavy cream, milk, onion halves, and garlic to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat and let steep for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Generously butter an 8-inch square baking dish and one side of the foil. Using a sharp knife or mandoline, thinly slice celery root and potatoes. In prepared dish, arrange a layer of celery root and potatoes. In a prepared dish, arrange a layer of celery root slices followed by a layer of potato slices; season to taste with salt and pepper. Repeat layers two more times.

Remove oinion and garlic from cream mixture and discard. Pour mixture over casserole. Cover pan with prepared foil and transfer to oven. Bake for 40 minutes.

Remove foil and sprinkle top of gratin with the cheese. Return to oven and bake until bubbly and golden, about 15 minutes more. Allow to rest 15 minutes before serving.

- Megan

Click here for Wood Prairie Farm Fresh Organic Vegetables
Special Offer: FREE Organic Certified Carola Seed Potatoes

     For two decades, our customers have told us that our golden-fleshed Organic Carola Potatoes - which originated in Germany - are among the best-tasting potatoes they have ever eaten.  We certainly agree.  Carolas have a delicious flavor and will add a remarkably smooth texture to a Potato Leek soup.  In the garden they are a reliable, high yielding potato.

    Here's your chance to earn a FREE 2 lbs Sack of our Organic Carola Maine Certified Seed Potatoes (Value $12.95) when the amount of goods in your next order is $45 or more.  FREE 2 lbs Sack of Organic Carola Maine Certified Seed Potatoes offer ends Midnight Monday, February 24, 2014, so better hurry!

     Please use Promo Code WPF1171. Your order must ship with FREE 2 lbs Sack of  Organic Carola Maine Certified Seed Potatoes and entire order must ship by 5/8/14. This Offer may not be combined with other offers.  Please call or click today!  

Click Here for Our Organic Wood Prairie Farm Maine Certified Seed Potatoes

Carola. One of the best.
Our Mailbox: Outfoxing Beavers, Spending Dollars Wisely, 'No Detect' A Firm Footing.

Outfoxing Beavers.

Dear WPF.

     Thanks for a great issue!

Two years ago, I got tired of fighting the underground critters (you ain't seen nothin' til you've tried sharing with a mountain beaver!) -- they seem to be especially fond of your Rose Finn Apple fingerlings, as am I -- and tried my hand at container growing. Easy peazy! I used a good rich organic potting soil, and found I had no need of fertilizer. I think potato plants are quite beautiful anyway, and they made an especially pretty sight cascading out of their pots like massive, tender shrubs.

Last year, it dawned on me that dry soil might be exactly the right medium for storing spuds, so I just dragged the plants in their containers into my unheated, partially earth-bermed garage, which is as close as I get to a root cellar, and let them dry out, untouched. The spuds held perfectly for a good ten weeks -- but I'd recommend hauling them out of the pots at that point.

My experiment also taught me the incredible vigor of your spuds. The tinies and hiders that had gotten overlooked sprouted on their own in the pots, and continued to grow despite a total absence of water and sunlight. I finally took pity on them and hauled the pots outside again, and had another full crop with zero effort at all.

Thanks again!

Port Angeles, WA

WPF Replies.

     I love your potato story!! Thank you for sharing it with us. Tough and determined, aren't they!


Spending Dollars Wisely.

Dear WPF.

     STUDY IN SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN: METHYL BROMIDE RESULTS IN BABIES' LOWER BIRTH WEIGHT It's really terrible that chemical companies are selling this methyl bromide for agriculture.

Vina del mar, Chile

WPF Replies.

     Every dollar spent for food grown with chemicals registers as market demand for that food and those chemicals. Spending dollars wisely on organic food benefits the community and babies and the environment - a lesson we can learn from this study. Increased market demand for organic food means we create new opportunities for young people wanting to become organic farmers. Spending our dollars on organic food and seed is win-win and is a way to cast our vote daily for a better world.


'No Detect' A Firm Footing.

Dear WPF.

     I am confused....... Have the labs developed new testing standards? In my last round of testing with Genetic ID non detectable did not mean 0% content but rather they could not 0% accuracy/precision.



WPF Replies.

     We believe our OSGATA policy is on a firm footing. The truism is if you start out with organic seed contaminated with GE content, then the food crop harvested will have GE content. Our ethical 'No Detect' position is that seed identified as containing GE contamination does not qualify as organic seed. Not yet deployed is the 'polluter pays' principle. Biotech is the cause of GE pollution and Biotech MUST be required to pay for the huge costs of crop damage and expensive GE testing. To date innocent organic farmers and organic companies have shouldered the entire cost of Biotech pollution themselves and that is not fair.

     By 'No Detect,' OSGATA's policy means that no seed should be called organic if any GE content whatsoever is detected in the test sample. The current state-of-the-art procedure is a 10,000 kernel PCR test which is capable of detecting s single kernel which has GE content (0.01%). If GE content is detected, our OSGATA members feel it should NOT be sold as organic seed. Testing for GE is destructive in nature in that the 10,000 kernels are destroyed by the test procedure. So the only way one could determine with 100% certainty that a 10,000 bushel grain bin had absolutely zero percent GE content would be to test (and destroy) each and every kernel in that bin via many many thousands of expensive ($200) PCR tests. Obviously, that would be anything but practical. So, instead we employ the best representative sampling techniques which meet the requirements of sound statistical analysis. This is ethical, scientifically justifiable and is what we mean when we refer to a 'No Detect' standard.

These GE testing procedures are complicated and do require elaboration. Our new OSGATA book, 'Protecting Organic Seed Integrity,' devotes quite a few pages to explaining in layman's terms everything one needs to know about testing. My comments above are just a thumbnail. Electronic copies of our book may be downloaded for FREE by going to this link. https://www.osgata.org/organic-seed-integrity/


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