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In This Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:

This edition of the Seed Piece may be found in our Wood Prairie Seed Piece Archives.

 Fast Thaw!

Maine Log Drive. Circa 1943.

     The snow has been melting fast and rivers are running high in Northern Maine.  While the last river Log Drive in Maine was in 1976, these high water conditions are what the log drivers would wait for.  The caption to this Library of Congress photo reads: “Woodsmen appreciate the quality and quantity of the four meals the cooks prepare for them every day during the drive season.  Spring pulpwood drive on the Brown Company timber holdings in Maine in 1943.”  Note the visible log-grabbing “spikes” on the boot of the man in the middle!

     This issue of the Wood Prairie Seed Piece features a new Maine Tales entitled “The Pace of Progress” about how far we’ve come.  Also, find a limited-time Super SALE on Organic Maine Certified Elba Seed Potatoes.  Plus Megan has a Recipe for Baked Parsnip Chips and Henry David Thoreau enlightens us about what true living is all about in a Notable Quote!

     Remember, Wood Prairie Family Farm is 100% Organic and we always have been for going on 50 years. Please rely on us for ALL your Organic needs, including Organic Seed Potatoes, Organic Sweet Potato Slips, Organic Vegetable Seed, Organic Herb Seed, Organic Flower Seed, Organic Cover Crop Seed, Organic Fertilizer, and Tools and Supplies.

     Thanks and enjoy this wonderful Spring!


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



Special Offer! SALE On Organic Certified Elba Seed Potatoes!

Place a New Order and Receive Sales Prices on Organic Maine Certified Elba Seed Potatoes with a Minimum $65 Order.
Elba must ship with order and no later than 5/15/23.

Please use Coupon Code WPFF248.


Maine Tales. The Pace of Progress.
        Bridgewater, Maine. Circa 1827.

Aroostook County Soil Survey. Circa 1917.  The above displayed portion of the Soil Survey depicts the greater part of the Township of Bridgewater in the WW I era. The blank space to the East (right) is Canada.  The blank space to the West (left) is the unsurveyed wildlands in the Unorganized Territory.  The main road heading north-south through Bridgewater Center is today known as US Route 1.  The arrow-straight-road headed west from Bridgewater Center is Bootfoot Road (aka West Road).  The dashed lined line running north-south at the end of Bootfoot is the Town line between Bridgewater and TD R2.  The westernmost building on Bootfoot Road is Bootfoot School, up the hill from some low ground west of North Branch.   Our long gone neighbor Earl McKinnon lived and farmed this side of the North Branch crossing.  Earl related that in 1912, at age eight, he attended Bootfoot School in the Winter and in the Summer rode on the back of draft horses – holding the reins – as they tugged our tree stumps on land we now farm.  The red ‘X’ marks our Wood Prairie Family Farm.

     Who would have guessed it would take a hundred years for progress to travel six miles?

Boundless Extremes

           Cut from a different cloth, among the USA, the State of Maine has been aptly credited with a slower pace of life.  Like so many matters in the Big Sky country that is Aroostook County, Maine, what is lacking in terms of human population, has been made up for made with boundless extremes.  The amount of sheer effort required to convert the primeval forest into hundreds of thousands of acres of Potato farmland has been staggering.

      The first European-American settlers to what was to become the Potato farming town of Bridgewater came over from Canada, making their way up the St. John River, then up the ‘Presque Isle of the St. John’ (now called the “Prestile Stream”) until they reached disputed American soil at the northeast corner of what the maps called Bridgewater Township.

Yankee Practicality

           This township was created on a paper map in 1803 when the District of Maine was still part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  The southern half of the township – 3 miles north-south by 6 miles east-west - was designated as an Academy Grant by Commonwealth authorities in order to raise funds for the Portland Academy.  Sales of land from the northern half of the township – also 3 miles north-south by six miles east-west - was an Academy Grant, similarly dedicated to supporting the Academy in Bridgewater, Massachusetts.

       Seventeen years later in 1820, under the “Missouri Compromise,” the State of Maine gained Statehood, and independence from Massachusetts and the merchant class in Boston.  Since the new State of Maine already had one town they called ‘Portland,’ exercising Yankee practicality, it was decided the new thirty-six square-mile township would become “Bridgewater.”

       Since melt of the last Ice Age, thanks to extreme Winters and a healthy resident Summer population of Black Flies, Northern Maine existed as largely uninhabited primeval deep woods, devoid of open fields.  It should come as no surprise then, that the first Euro-newcomers tried their hand at logging and saw milling.

Hardworking Settlers

          The very first in these parts, in 1827, was Nathaniel Bradstreet from the town of Palermo, Maine.  He struck out and arrived in the northeastern corner of Bridgewater, along with his sons Joseph and John.  They built their water-powered up-and-down sawmill at the “Boundary,” near the confluence of the Prestile and what was later to be named the ‘Whitney Stream.’  Before long a log cabin was built and Nathanial brought the rest of his family up to the northcountry. 

      The Bradstreets cut more trees, sawed more lumber and cleared more fields and began to farm.  Farming, and in time Potato farming, became a long, enduring habit of the Bradstreet clan.  To this day some of the best Maine Certified Seed Potatoes grown in the the Town of Bridgewater are those raised by our friend Ryan Bradstreet and his son, Ethan.

       The new settlement at the ‘Boundary Line’ near Nathaniel’s mill grew at a slow but steady rate.  Using axe and oxen, it would take one man four-hundred-hours to clear just one acre of land.   The hunger for farmland spilled and sprawled westward and southward from its Canadian-lifeline origins.  By the US Census of 1850, the Town of Bridgewater had lured and birthed 143 residents.  By the Census of 1900, boasting a new railroad which would for the first time efficiently deliver Aroostook Potatoes to Eastern markets, farm town Bridgewater passed the thousand-residents-mark with a bustling population of 1179 hardworking souls.

The Wildlands

      The “wildlands” in the western part of Bridgewater Township took many, many more decades to be cleared and settled.  Our Wood Prairie Family Farm lies in the Unorganized Territory, Township D, Range 2 WELS (West of Eastern Line of State), directly adjacent to Bridgewater.  We are two miles west of where the North Branch of Whitney Brook crosses Bootfoot Road.  Bootfoot divides the Bridgewater Academy Grant to the north from the Portland Academy Grant to the south.

     The forestland in our farm’s vicinity would not be cleared and settled until the immediate pre-World War I years, nearly one hundred years after the first settlers dug in at the Bridgewater ‘Boundary Line.’

     Of the 56 acres we farm, we have reclaimed over 35 acres of fields which had once been cleared and later were abandoned by farmers and allowed to grow back into trees.  We have enjoyed the major advantage of chainsaw and bulldozer.  But our fossil-fuel-powered effort has only increased our awe at the mighty work performed with axes by many thousands of Nathaniel Bradstreets and their transformation of the wild wooded frontier into Maine’s Potato Empire.

Caleb, Jim, Megan

Megan's Kitchen Recipes:
Baked Parsnip Chips.

2 large Frost Sweet Parsnips.

Preheat oven to 400ºF.  Slice Parsnips a little over 1/8” thick.  Drizzle with 2 Tablespoons oil or butter and spread out on a cookie sheet.

Season with sea salt or garlic salt and freshly ground black pepper or your favorite seasonings.  Bake until golden brown on the edges, a little crispy.  Serve as an appetizer with dip or as a side dish.



Notable Quotes: Thoreau on Living.


Quick Links to Popular Products.

Caleb & Jim & Megan Gerritsen
Wood Prairie Family Farm
49 Kinney Road
Bridgewater, Maine 04735
(207) 429 - 9765 / 207 (429) - 9682
Certified Organic From Farm to Mailbox