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Friday, March 4th, 2022
Volume 31 Issue 3

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In This Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:

   Winter Waning.

Day of Last Spring Freeze.

Thanks to the Weather Service folks at NOAA for making available this striking and informative Spring Freeze map.  While that last Spring Freeze is quite a ways away from our perch here in Northern Maine, Winter is moving along very quickly now.  In just a matter of a few weeks temperatures have been starting to moderate and more and more of the country is able to work the ground and plant early crops.

We’re beginning to run out of some popular varieties.  But don’t worry!  We still have plenty of seed and you still have plenty of time to place an order and to plant a wonderful and productive garden this year!

We are doing pretty well keeping up with shipping out orders.  With the help of our fantastic crew we are sending out way over a thousand orders every single week.  As far as we know the indespensible Post Office is doing a good job delivering packages.  We keep getting reports that trucking companies are having a hard time finding enough drivers and that is causing backups for everything from full truckloads of Certified Seed Potatoes going to farmers, to sawed lumber trying to get to local Lumber Yards. We heard a story recently that related pre-Covid, it cost $50 to ship in a couch to the USA from the Far East.  Now, that same couch transport costs $500.  All the more reason nowadays to make things our country really needs here in the USA!

And what we really need includes all that good Organic Seed, grown right here on our family farm in the State of Maine.  Thanks for your business!

Stay warm and stay safe!


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



Our Best Selling Products!


Maine Tales: Just A Typical Winter’s Day at Bradstreet Family Farm.  Bridgewater, Maine. Circa 2020.

Jim took this full-color photo (looking southeast) one day almost exactly two years ago, right before the Covid shutdown began. For all its Aroostook-snowy-whites, galvanized grays and somber-colored pickup trucks, the shot might just as well have been taken with a black & white camera. That day was just one typical workday during the busy time of year for shipping out Maine Certified Seed Potatoes. The Bradstreet yard beside the Potato House can be seen full of the pickup trucks belonging to family and crew who are inside packing up truckload after truckload of Certified Seed Potatoes headed for destinations distant and south of our State of Maine.

Located on the north side of Bridgewater village, on the aptly named "Spud Street" (which loops east off of US Rte 1), Dan Bradstreet built the largest portion of this sprawling, cavernous farmer-shared 'Track-side' Potato House in the 1960s. On the far (east) side of the building were the tracks of a B&A (Bangor & Aroostook) railroad siding. Adjacent to where the tracks lay is a still-in-use loading dock which modern-day tractor-trailers back up to every day of the week.  The design is a 'modern, insulated, above-ground, single-level, bin-style' potato house wisely conceived for labor-savings by facilitating movement of potatoes, equipment and forklifts.
It was in the year 1827 that first white settler laid eyes on Bridgewater.  That settler was Nathanial Bradstreet from Palermo, Maine, Dan’s great, great, great grandfather.  Now, Dan’s grandson and our friend, Ryan Bradstreet owns the entire Potato House as part of his family’s ‘Bradstreet Family Farm.’ One winter back in the mid-1970s, Jim worked for Dan helping load potatoes out of this same potato house.  Dan continued to help Ryan grade potatoes until just a few months before he died at age 93 in 2006.

Not much has changed visually over the decades for this landmark Potato House.  Twenty-three years ago, Ryan, helped by his former trucker-turned-carpenter-father-in-law, Bootfooter Wayne DeLong, built-on a substantial addition to the northwest which is barely within view in the left of the photo. Then, ten years ago, another neighboring Bootfoot builder - Roger Penner and his sons - took one Summer to laboriously replace all the Potato House's metal roofing and siding.

As a Maine Certified Seed Potato grower, once a year the entire Potato House - and all its contents including bins, potato handling equipment, bulkhead planks and wooden pallet boxes must be completely cleaned and disinfected. This required BMP (Best Management Practice) is aimed at assuring that Maine continues to produce the nation’s highest quality Certified Seed Potatoes and is aimed at preventing the dread seed-potato-transferred potato calamity known as 'Bacterial Ring Rot.'

For this staggering annual Potato House cleaning campaign, Ryan has for many years had an arrangement with a reliable and hard-working woman here in Town. Deploying a 220-volt Hot-Water-Pressure Washer for cleaning and following up with Quaternary Ammonia for disinfecting, she labors the Summer away. Setting her own days and hours she is paid a lump-sum fee for the squeaky-clean project. Her annual ordeal commences with the end of planting around Memorial Day and concludes before it’s time to harvest seed plots, just after Labor Day.  Then, another potato crop will get hauled in from the Bradstreet fields and the winter-season work cycle will repeat itself yet once again.

Caleb, Megan & Jim
Wood Prairie Family Farm Photos.

Pushing Back the Banks on Wood Prairie Family Farm. Not only has this Winter been a cold one in Maine, but snowstorms started to arrive in rapid succession beginning the tail end of January with two or more storms landing per week.  Using a 9-Foot ‘Boss’ V-Blade Snow Plow attached to our F250 Diesel ‘Yard Truck,’ Caleb can make short work of plowing.   However, with a lot of ground to plow the snow off, it does take him six hours to plow off a half-foot snowfall and maybe eight hours to plow 10” of snow.  As the Winter progresses the driveway typically gets narrower and narrower with snow building up from plowing.  We used to deploy our Cat D-6 bulldozer to periodically push back our snowbanks.  Now that we have an old-timer, big-beast Michigan Payloader with a 4-Yard Bucket, it pays to fire it up.  If one doesn’t need the amazing traction afforded by clete-tracks, then the nimble rubber-tired Michigan does the job faster, powerfully pushing packed snow as effortlessly as if it were whipped cream.

“Maine – The Way Life Should Be.”   This truthful Maine slogan adorns highway signs along I-95 as a friendly reminder to out-of-state-visitors who might be persuadable that a move up might be their best path to living the good life.  People striving for what’s truly important seems to be taking hold in Maine, now that it has been ranked #7 nationally in percentage population growth during the great Covid migration.   In effervescent commitment to unbounded happiness, here are best friends Australian Shepherd 'Oakley,' and ten-month-old Rottweiler 'Ralphie.'  Enviably free of the world’s cares, the two play tug-of-war with their favorite orange ball after yet another 8" snowfall. Meanwhile after resting up, Caleb’s Ford plowtruck is ready to work and clear snow before the crew arrives for another day of shipping out seed potatoes.

Caleb Loading Pallets of Organic Seed Potatoes Onto Awaiting Tractor-Trailer.   Earlier this week, with Jim manning the battery-powered Yale forklift down in the underground Potato House and feeding him, Caleb is seen taking away the third of three pallets of Certified Seed Potatoes headed south on a chilly and overcast Maine winter’s day.  Caleb’s green forklift is a propane-powered Clark with a tall three-stage mast and handy Bin Rotator.  We first located a hard-to-find bin rotator which would fit the cellar forklift from a used forklift outfit in ‘Ozone Park’ NY.  After a few months use, the first rotator proved so effective and so efficient in cutting back use of labor, we decided we couldn’t live without another rotator on a second forklift up on terra firma.  With the rotator on Caleb’s forklift during planting time we can effortlessly pour greensprouted seed potatoes right into our potato planter.  That rotator advancement speeds up planting and minimizes the hefting work required from the crew.

Organic Marigolds Make the Cut for Beneficial Flower Plantings Inside Wood Prairie 2022 Potato Fields! Last year we had loads of fun conducting a gigantic experiment entailing planting forty different species of Flowers reputed to nurture and attract beneficial insects which then help control troublesome insect pests wanting to make dinner out of our potato plants.  Over 90% of insects in a garden are Beneficials and they help control the bad bugs.  Planting Organic Flowers is easy & beautiful!  We are putting together big plans for more Flower research and aid-to-our-insect-allies this year.  Last Spring, we planted Organic Flowers around the entire perimeter of the field plus we also planted colorful Flower refuges inside our potato field so that our beneficial insect friends would not have to travel more than the recommended 100-150 feet distance from their safe refuge. The fields were absolutely abuzz!  The results were remarkable and Organic Marigolds (pictured here) were one of the experimental stars!  On Page 27 of our new Wood Prairie Catalog we devoted a full page to our most promising – and colorful! – Beneficial Insect Flower successes, including Organic Phacelia, Organic Poppies, Organic Cosmos, Organic Sunflowers and Organic Zinnias.

Caleb & Jim & Megan Gerritsen
Wood Prairie Family Farm
49 Kinney Road
Bridgewater, Maine 04735
(207) 429 - 9765 Certified Organic, From Farm to Mailbox