Organic News and Commentary
From Maine
           Saturday, August 17th, 2019
              Volume 28 Issue 09


 In This Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:

  Taste of Fall.

     Bumblebees Working Red Clover on Wood Prairie Family Farm. 
 We have a beautiful, lush understory of clover growing in our field of Turkey Red Winter Wheat.The wheat field is full of blossoming Red Clover and Alsike Clover and abuzz with hundreds of both Bumblebees and Honey Bees (since there are no hives kept near us these Honey Bees must be from a swarm in a tree). Last Fall we seeded the Turkey Red right after the potatoes with dug from this field. Soon the wheat will be ready to harvest.

     The last ten days have been quite cool with a lingering taste of Fall. Temperatures have been in the forties and low fifties at night, rising to the 60s or low 70s during the day. Conditions had turned very dry until a week ago when we received a welcome 1.7” of rain in two back-to-back rain events.

     Crops are looking good and are now in the home stretch. We’re getting equipment ready for potato harvest which will begin around the middle of September. In this area, local school kids went back to school this week. This early startup for school is timed to allow for Potato Harvest Break. Aroostook County is one of the last regions in the United States which continues with its tradition of closing down schools every Fall so that students can help local farmers dig their potato crop. This year, the first day of Harvest Break is Friday, September 20, and with a full crew that will be when our harvest will begin in earnest.

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

Beautiful Maine Sky. High marks for low light pollution.
Take a Moment and Enjoy Maine's Brilliant Night Sky.

In a world where all-too-common nighttime light pollution increasingly hides the stars from view, parts of rural Maine are being heralded for the opportunities they provide for phenomenal night sky viewing.

A recent article in the Bangor Daily News offers a dazzling sampling of exceptional photographs of Maine’s lauded night sky. Don’t miss the show!

Two members of the National Park System lead Maine’s night sky parade: Acadia National Park on the coast and inland at the new and remote Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in the North Maine Woods on the way towards Wood Prairie Family Farm.

In fact, next week marks the 3rd Anniversary of the establishment of KWWNM back in August 2016. Bert's Bees founder Roxanne Quimby and her son, visionary Lucas St. Clair generously gifted to the people of the United States 87,563 acres of forestland in the North Maine Woods located just east of Maine’s 200,000-acre wilderness Baxter State Park.The following day, President Obama used that gift to establish KWWNM as one of our nation’s newest members of the National Park System.

KWWNM is open for you to visit. Roxanne and Lucas have wisely established a substantial endowment to fund needed improvements to make this new National Monument more enjoyable and accessible for all of us to visit.

Caleb & Jim

Special Offer: FREE Organic Turkey Red Winter Wheat Seed!

     A century ago millions of acres of Turkey Red Winter Wheat were grown in America. The landrace had been brought from Russia to Kansas in 1874 by Mennonite Colonies. After achieving phenomenal popularity it slid into decline over the decades, being replaced by more modern varieties believed more suitable for input intensive agriculture.

     Around twenty years ago, our friends, organic farmer Bryce Stephens and his daughter Demetria - 5th generation wheat farmers - set out to save Turkey Red from oblivion. With skill and determination they brought back this excellent bread-making Hard Red wheat from the brink and made good organic seed available to growers across the United States.

     Why not have some fun and devote a corner of this Fall’s garden or field to growing a patch of American history? We’re here to help and will send you a FREE 2.5 lbs Sack of Organic Turkey Red Winter Wheat Seed (Value $9.95) when your next Wood Prairie order totals $39 or more. FREE Organic Turkey Red Winter Wheat Seed Offer ends 11:59 PM on Monday, August 19. Please use Promo Code WPFF451. Your order and FREE - must ship no later than October 15, 2019. Offer may not be combined with other offers. Please click TODAY!

Please Click Here for All of Our Wood Prairie Organic Cover Crop Seed


Organic Turkey Red Wheat.
Spectacular for baking, landrace Organic Turkey Red once grew on millions of American acres.
Wood Prairie Family Farm Photos.

Tedding Hay on Wood Prairie Family Farm.     In July we finished haying.  Here Megan #2 is fluffing up heavy clover hay with our seven-foot wide Pequa 710 Hay Ted.  To get leafy clover to dry we ted it every day between mowing and baling.  We head out around 9:30 each morning as soon as the night’s dew has evaporated from the hay and the ground.  The day’s tedding is usually done by dinnertime and the sun shines and breeze blows and dries down the high protein hay.

Caleb Tightening Straps on Load of Hay Headed South.
    Caleb has a used Ford truck (yet another great deal from Craig’s List!) to haul home from Southern Maine.  So, yesterday he loaded 5 tons of hay (257 bales @40#) to deliver to friends down south.  We try to never run empty trucks or trailers (truckers call that “deadheading”).  Note the stacks of wooden pallet boxes in the background.  We’re halfway through the task of cleaning and disinfecting a couple of hundred pallet boxes which will be needed for potato harvest.


Wood Prairie Crew Roguing Potatoes in July.
     We finished up our job of weekly rougeing of potatoes this week.  In this photo taken by Caleb’s sister, Amy,  the variety All-Blue is to the right and Yukon Gem to the left. “Rogueing” is the process of walking through the field and removing “rogues” or off-type potato plants that have picked up potato virus.  Seed loaded with virus will slow a plant down and hurt yields. Potato virus is mostly transmitted by aphid vectors.  Aphids can get blown into Maine from the South.  They may land in here after already having picked up potato virus somewhere along their journey.   So when aphids insert their probe into a plant to feed they are capable of instantly transmitting virus in their saliva.  State inspectors regularly check all the fields entered for Seed Certification to verify the seed potatoes are healthy.

Wood Prairie Field of Turkey Red Winter Wheat.     We sowed the seed in this field last Fall right after potato harvest.  The lush understory growth of soil-building Red Clover and Alsike Clover is very much appreciated by the large population of Bumblebees and Honey Bees who are working the blossoms everyday.  Bees working blossoms on every organic farm are not endangered by Neonicotinoids or other persistent synthetic insecticides used extensively in conventional agriculture.

Closeup of Turkey Red Wheat and Clovers.
Some modern wheats are “awn-less” but heirloom landrace Turkey Red Hard Winter Wheat sport delicate and beautiful awns on the heads.  This year the clover growth has been so rank that it will offer a tad bit of a challenge when we go to run the combine through the field to harvest the wheat.

Drilled Rows of Buckwheat Cover Crop.
    Next year’s Seed Potato crop will be grown in this field which we sowed to a cover crop of Buckwheat.   Last month we took a cutting of Organic Timothy Grass hay.   After haying, we spread 80 tons of barnyard manure and then shallowly plowed the sod and manure under.  This Buckwheat cover crop was planted 14 days ago, but just laid there for six days waiting for rain.  During the first four weeks of a Buckwheat plant the growth comes slow and steady.  However, the second and final four weeks of growth is rocket-like as the plants grow fast and tall.  Overall, Buckwheat is a tremendous and fast-growing soil-building cover crop.

Closeup of Organic Buckwheat Cover Crop Plants.
    This is a closeup of the same two-week-old Buckwheat as in the photo above.   At this stage - and until the Buckwheat is several inches high - it may be picked and eaten as a tasty Spinach substitute.  Despite its name, Buckwheat is not a true grain.  It is actually closely related to Wild Rhubarb. The name ‘Buckwheat’ comes from a Dutch word which means ‘Beech Wheat.’  Buckwheat seed is pyramid-shaped just like the small Beech nuts produced by Beech trees found in Maine’s hardwood forests.

Winston Churchill on Resistance.

Recipe: Zucchini-Oatmeal Muffins.

1 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 T baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 c chopped pecans
4 eggs
1 medium zucchini, grated
3/4 c salad oil

Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease (12) 3" x 1 1/2" muffin pan cups.

In large bowl, mix together first 7 ingredients. In a separate bowl, beat eggs slightly; stir in grated zucchini and salad oil. Stir egg mixture into flour just until flour is moistened.

Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake 25 minutes or until golden and toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.


Zucchini-Oatmeal Muffins. Moist and Delicious.
Photo by Angela Wotton.
Mailbox: Norland vs. Elba and Fall Potato Planting.

Norland Vs. Elba

     Hello Jim,
     Another season in the books for us on this garden-still getting green beans, lettuce, tomatoes and waiting on the cushaws to mature in the other garden. I was very pelased with the Dark Red Norlands (first time growing them). We have been eating some late summer as they would come to the surface. Very good in casseroles, thin sliced and fried etc. For comparison, same four one hundred foot rows enriched with the same organic from the same cows of two years ago. This year, ten bushels, two years ago, 8 bushels of Elbas. Thank you for providing a GMO free excellent seed potato.



     That's a nice harvest! Your obvious attention to detail tells us you know garden success very well.


Fall Potato Planting.

     Hello, I am looking for starter potatoes but cannot seem to find any in stock. Would you happen to have any available for shipping now?

Deland, FL

     America's Certified Seed Potato producers are located in northern tier states like we are in Maine. So our seed potatoes are still out in the field growing. We will begin harvesting our Maine Certified Seed Potato crop beginning in mid-September. Once a variety is dug up, we will begin shipping it. We will continue shipping seed potatoes from our on-farm undergorund storage throughout Fall, Winter and Spring. We ship until we sell out on the Fourth-of-July.



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